Moon Zero Two : Film Review Photo Feature
Moon Zero Two Copyright Hammer Film Productions & Warner Bros-Seven Arts - (MZ2 review Version 5 - June 2020)..

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As a long time fan of this film I have collected more than a few photographs over the years; so I present them here with a general overview of the film for those of you who haven't seen it before - or wish to be reminded of this great classic.
Most of the pictures are old publicity photographs, but also included are film frame enlargements from what appears to be an advert for the film and several unused SFX shots apparently rescued from the studio floor. I also received a collection of Black & White behind-the-scenes photographs taken by Neil Swan, who worked for many years with Les Bowie. These have generously been donated for use on this site by his brother James. Many thanks to him and the following people who have now contributed to this article.
Thanks to - Martin Gainsford - Phil Rae - Mark Harris - Simon Greetham - Barry Hinchliffe
Martin Davison - Dennis Lowe - Neil Swan & James Swan
(Nationalities - Born on Earth!)
CHORUS: Moon Zero Two................. Moon Zero Twoooo......
After the opening cartoon credit sequence we find ourselves floating in space above the Moon where we find Bill Kemp (James Olson) and Dmitri Karminski (Ori Levy), two down-on-their-luck astronauts, trying to raise some money by salvaging a broken communications satellite in their private moon ferry known as 'Moon Zero Two'.
Below Left: UNUSED SFX shot of the MZ2 featuring the hatchway open with miniature figure of astronaut Kemp. By now you notice that there are no stars visible in the SFX shots and in fact there aren't any in the entire movie. This was actually stated clearly in the shooting script (but it could have also been adopted due to technical/budget restrictions) and makes the film seem more real, because you don't often see stars in real NASA space footage, due to the extreme brightness of the sun. Sound effects were also not used.
SOLO: Go find the world you're seeking, Where star's are new in the making,
Its time to fly, Deep space is calling you........

This vessel features the dirty/used spacecraft look, popularised years later by 'Star Wars'. Above Right: James Olson examines the damaged satellite. Note blacked-out support rig at his waist that allows the prop to rotate in his hands. The views of him moving in space appear to be done by moving the camera while he stands still in a blacked-out stage, as opposed to the wire-work done later by stunt doubles. Hanging the 'Star' on wires was probably considered too risky.

To say the Moon Zero 2 was heavily influenced by the real life Lunar landing vehicle would be a major understatement. At first glance (and second) the MZ2 model does look just like the real life Lunar Module; with differences being the addition of a midsection and the surface panels corrugated and orange paint detail finish. There are however a lot of dimensional differences in these look-a-like sections; which means you would be hard pushed to turn a model kit of the Lunar Module into a good Moon Zero 2 replica.

The space shots were photographed using the same type of technique that was later used to greater effect in Space: 1999. The model was attached to a support pipe protruding through a black velvet background and then all the movement was created by moving the camera backwards and forwards, not the model. (It's easier to keep the heavy camera stable)

Below Right; Jack Wallis at work with the hero model.

SOLO: Go far, go wild, go lonely, New worlds are there for the taking,
I'm set to go, Lets travel just we two.....

Having safely collected the damaged satellite our astronauts return to Moon City. Here we see our first view of the Moons surface and we can see the landing site in the distance with the Hydroponics domes. Then we pan right to see a small model of the MZ2 approaching with the Moon Arrival Centre in the foreground. Much of the city, including hotel and bar, is built into a rock face.

* Recent widescreen presentations of the film result in the spacecraft being cropped off the top of the screen - which rather ruins the whole point of the shot.

Above left: The miniature apparently being broken up after filming, note the plastic kit parts (possible the launch pad from the kit 'Everything is Go').
Above right:
the Moon Hilton hotel with an illuminated purple sign on the top, which I've never noticed before!
Above left; Kit West setting up a camera shot. Above; miniature of the hydroponics plant.
Below; Len and Mike Collins work on the Hotel and Moonscape model. Below Right; Nick Allder sets up a camera position.
CHORUS: This day will be our day, Way out in the Starway,
I know we'll see our way, To-Be....Where-We....Can-Be....Free-At Last

Above: With the main engine firing Moon Zero Two touches down on it's landing pad. Nick Allder checks the Hero model.
It is rather strange that a film company would make a fictional spaceship look so much like the real thing, its almost as if they modified a display model of an early Lunar Module design instead of building a prop from scratch. This very close design resemblance might explain why we hardly ever see the front of the vehicle clearly during the film or in publicity photographs.

But then again this film has a spaceship that you didn't see at all!
The Moon Express
.As Kemp flies his spaceship into land he is warned to keep out of the way of the Moon Express, a top-of-the-line passenger ship operated by 'Pan Am' - except in the script it was supposed to be the 'United Nations Airways' and that was how it was filmed.

Above: in this rare UNUSED SFX shot we can see the Moon Express docked at the landing site with a small scale MZ2 model in the foreground. Here the Express model is outfitted with 'United Nations' markings. Above Right: the more basic smaller model of MZ2 hanging on support wires.

*The spaceship docking a couple of hundred feet above the lunar surface is, in my opinion, a little bit silly!

The Special Effects team spent a great deal of time on this sequence, but then the script changed and suddenly it was the 'Pan Am Moon Express'. This was probably just an attempt to raise money for the films production, by inserting a bit of advertising. As a result a re-shoot was then in order, pictures below are from this model shoot, with Neil Swan centre. There is only one docking tower, the '2' marks the second of three ports in the top section.

Unfortunately after all this work every shot of the Moon Express was then cut from the final movie - although the spacecraft can still be seen in one scene (in the righthand corner of the frame) when MZ2 first blasts off to visit the asteroid. *The design appears to be based on the inflatable Rogallo wing concept that was originally intended for the Gemini capsule, so that it would have controlled descent into land. (info Barry Hinchliffe)
CHORUS: Moon Zero Two ......... Soon take the sky.......... Moon Zero Two....... Moon we can fly
.SOLO: You can take me soon ................ I'm goner be riding ........... Riding to the Moon

Kemp and his co-pilot, Karminski, enter the Moonport with the salvaged satellite and try to get it passed an over-zealous customs official (Leo Britt). Enter the rich and powerful Mr J.J. (100%) Hubbard (Warren Mitchell) and friends (Amber Dean Smith & Simone Silvera) with the bodyguard Harry (Bernard Bresslaw). Hubbard's entourage passes through the Arrival Centre bumping into Kemps old Space Captain friend (Neil McCallum) who wants Bill to rejoin the Corporation as a passenger pilot. Bill is not interested by this proposal as he wants to go off exploring the solar system, but there seems to be no hope of this ever happening in his lifetime due to the high cost.

* The suitcase's on display in the reception area appear to be product placement for Panther Luggage, they are also mentioned in the publicity documents.
* The customs declaration is apparently just a standard 1969 United Kingdom document with 'Lunar Customs & Excise' printed on the top.

Also arriving on the scene is Miss Clementine Taplin (a pre-Space 1999 Catherina Von Schell) looking for her brother Wally. She wants to meet Bill to know if he's seen her brother who is a miner on the farside of the Moon. But the big news is that another space pilot, Otto von Bech, had just died in a spacewreck.

Everyone gets on board the Monorail, for the trip across the lunar surface to Mooncity.

The monorail moonscape was approximately 30 feet long, built on tables from carved polystyrene blocks covered in cement dust.
Picture right; the scale of the model interior can be worked out by the Revill Lunar Lander model kit parts on either side of the lower frame.

This is an effective little sequence with model landscapes rear-projected into the live-action set windows, which together with the reflection of the actors is again very realistic - as Olson ponders if man should have ever come to the Moon.
'We're all foreigners here.
We always will be.........perhaps we should never have come'

Bill isn't too interested in Clem, or her problem, he explains that her brothers mine is on the far side of the Moon (which takes about 6 days by moon-bug convoy, or twenty minutes in his ship) and then he dumps her at a boutique, where the assistant (Chrissie Shrimpton) offers to sell her a Jupiter-Jump-Suit. He then quickly walks off because he has a rendezvous with his girlfriend Liz Murphy (Adrienne Corri)- who also happens to be an agent for the United Nations Bureau of Investigation. Unfortunately she has very bad news for his future employment prospects - as following Otto's crash he has only a matter of days to fully service or replace his rust-bucket space ferry, or she will have to ground him for safety reason's..

SOLO: Take a track from here to nowhere, Every place looks 'bout the same,
Dry as dust and cold as breaking up, I'm as hard as stone again....
Upset by this bad turn of events Bill heads to the bar, at the Moon Hotel, where he finds a semi-drunk Dmitri drinking a toast to his old dead comrade Captain Otto. He tries to order his favourite 'Double Moonflower' but is informed by the barman that this week's theme is Latin America, so he will have to make do with an old-fashioned Pampas Punch and relax by watching the dancing girls.
The barman, Len, is played by Sam Kydd who a few years later would actually wear a Moon Zero Two spacesuit during his appearance in an episode of the 'Here Come The Double Deckers' television series (See Spacesuits section). A slight blooper occurs as Olson almost knocks over his chair whilst sitting down and the supposedly very drunk Levey instantly grabs it.

Surviving original prop's
Below Left; The bar room dancers are first seen wearing white leotards and these black & white helmets. They are constructed on a wire head frame and then covered with a black vinyl material, sewn on in sections. The appendages sprouting from the helmets are simply coat-hanger wire, that are then wrapped in black cotton and again the end sections are simply clear sections of both thin plastic and vinyl. The helmet is decorated with black plastic discs which are sewn onto the helmet and is lined with a simple black material. The helmets were made by Berman & Nathans.
Picture & info courtesy of Simon Greetham
Modelled by Jill.

Surviving original prop's
Above right; the flight suit worn by James Olson for most of the film came up for sale in 1996 at Christies film memorabilia auction, together with a couple of the Gojo girl dancers helmets and several other ladies costumes. It is made of a heavy cotton mixture material, on the chest only the left breast pocket is functional and has a working pocket, the wrist and ankle zips are also functional.
Picture & info courtesy of Simon Greetham

Trying to enjoy his terrible drink, which tastes like distilled rocket fuel, Kemp is interrupted by a rather large hard-man called Harry (Bernard Bresslaw), who wants him to visit Mr Hubbard. Not really thrilled by the idea he turns it down, but when a gun is produced he decides to play along.
*B&W picture above; Harry's massive frame towers over Bill in the first shot, but in this next set up Olson's chair is perched on a wooden box to lift him up into a better position for the camera..

Kemp arrives to find Hubbard playing 'Moonopoly' with his entourage, one of whom is Whitsun (Dudley Foster) who begins to show Bill a film recording of an asteroid - although Kemp is far more interested in the bottle of Scotch on the table, and much happier to have a decent drink in his hand. It turns out that Hubbard was getting Otto von Bech to divert the asteroid to a crash site on the far side of the Moon - but with Otto now dead he needs Kemp and his ship. The asteroid turns out to be 6000 tons of a 'Ceramic crystalline form of corundum aluminium oxide' - SAPPHIRE!

Kemp is hesitant to commit a crime, but with all the careful planning, the offer of a brand new spaceship and the threat of being grounded now hanging over him, he has little choice and agrees to help. The next day he loads up and prepares for the first trip to the asteroid with Harry and Whitsun as passengers.

* In the departure lounge several drink dispensers feature close-up on screen and yet they are just typical 1970's versions with no apparent dressing to disguise them. A strange anomaly in an otherwise impressive set. More product placement maybe?
* In the shooting script and novel there is a scene in 'Joe Mercers Scrapyard', where Kemp goes to buy the three engines (four in the book) needed for the job. The engines are from his old 'Mars Explorer' ship. The scenes were probably cut for budget savings, a pity really as they do help to flesh out the story.
SOLO: Emptyness is all I'm breathing, Stars are dead, the clocks are slow,
On the Moon where I'm living, need some help to make me grow....

With Liz Murphy, his policewoman girlfriend, now on the prowl Bill explains that the three old rocket engines being loaded into his ship are just for testing purposes and part of the improvements she wants him to get. In reality they are to be used to manoeuvre the asteroid. The ship blasts off.
* On the above right photograph the support tube, that also supplies gas for the rocket engine effect, can be seen in this SFX out-take.
* The Launch Pad is extremely small, at less than twice the diameter of the ship it doesn't give much spare room for a pilot to land on!

Above: The special effects crew prepare to film the moon bugs transporting the spare engines to the MZ2 space ferry.
Inset; SFX Director Les Bowie being interviewed whilst he is painting the moonscape set.

*Above; Only the supplies transport Bug is a model, with the two stationary Moon Bugs created with photo-cutouts. (info Hilton Fitzimmons)
SOLO: Its a dry life, Its a hard life, Who can make this desert bloom,
I could use a kind of loving, Could give someone loving room....

The party arrive and set up the three engines, that will power the asteroid into close orbit around the far side of the Moon - and then down to the surface.
* Ooops! When Kemp crawls down to attach cables to Engine 2 the footage is flopped, with all the visible writing in reverse.
* As the MZ2 model approach's the asteroid the top section is in a different position to normal, with the front inline with the hatch instead of over a leg.
* One slightly poor special effect is the use of a matte painting to represent the top flightdeck section of the spacecraft, as only the more simple shaped middle and lower sections were built full-size on stage. This painting is a little dark and vague and simply doesn't register on screen that well - however on the widescreen film versions this part usually gets cropped off anyway.

Kemp stays behind on the asteroid to fire off the three engines manually. As these engines come from his old Mars ship he is well aware that 'Engine 3' has a fault in its start-up circuits. Only by 'thumping it' will the engine fire up correctly - which then sets the scene for the films climax. When the engines do fire up Bill is almost dragged away by the safety line, but he manages to cut it with seconds to spare.

* Oops! During the sequence the stuntman's support wires can be briefly seen in close-up shots, whilst the safety line isn't actually seen to be taut!
*One of the more noticeable continuity errors in the film is that the model asteroid doesn't really resemble the full size prop!
* James Olson always liked to keep fit by jogging around London's Hyde Park, or to the film studio itself. But he stopped during the production of this film when he found that the effort of wearing the heavy rubber spacesuits, and sweating in them under the hot studio lights, was already keeping him trim.
* Oddly the whole asteroid sequence appears to be set in the dark blackness of deep space only for the final SFX shot to then show the Moon very close by, as if they are only in a rather high orbit. It makes no sense that we haven't seen the Moon during any other shot!

'Are you alright Bill, are you walking home or do you want a lift?
The bar shuts soon and we need to get to.....'

Part 2 of the film review

Back to MZ2 INDEX

SOLO: I'm in space and .. crazy Earthbound, Stand aside of me ..... in orbit, Hold on tight and we shall ride...........

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