Moon Zero Part Two : Film Review Photo Feature ...
Moon Zero Two Copyright Hammer Film Productions & Warner Bros-Seven Arts
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Part 1 - of the film review ..................................................................................................... ....... Back to MZ2 INDEX

When Bill returns to Moon City he heads straight to the bar where he again tries to buy his favourite drink, but this time finds out that it's 'Wild West Week' and all he can have is a 'Buffalo Stampede' - which is actually still just distilled rocket fuel! Here he finds a very worried Clementine drinking alone with her brother no-where in sight. She explains that nobody has actually seen her brother for several months and unless he can register his recent mineral claim he will loose his mining site and all of his money within the next two days.
* Oops! A big blooper occurs at the beginning of the scene as the camera pans away from the bar and dancing girls to reveal the approaching Bill & Dimtri, who are both frozen in mid-stride waiting for their cue to carrying on walking towards camera.
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Clem asks if she can get a trip in Bill's ship to the mining site on the far side of the Moon and Kemp agrees - he's in a good mood as he's about to become rich. However Hubbard's henchman, Harry, intervenes and a low-gravity bar room brawl breaks out.

* During the fight scene the artificial gravity control is switched off - however Clem's drink should still not float in normal Moon gravity.
* Even worse, Olson's stunt-double clearly isn't him!

CHORUS: Moon Zero Two ......................Soon take the sky ......................Moon Zero Two ......................... Moon we can fly
..................SOLO: Ohh take me soon .................... Riding to the Moon ....................Goner be there - Soon.........

As the police move in to arrest all the trouble-makers Bill grabs Clem and runs for his ship. Blast-Off.

Right; a nice down-angle shot for the launch sequence (my favourite shot of the movie) - that also has the benefit of hiding the models support pole..
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The main MZ2 model was only about 2 feet high, featured a motorised rotating radar dish and gas piping to the main engine and small thrusters, to simulate a rocket effect. The four legs had telescopic moving struts to give the illusion of absorbing the impact of landing. These legs look like the same set up as the real-life Lunar Module, but those were a one-shot design that actually collapsed on landing, to prevent the danger of bouncing in the Moon's low gravity.

Described as the first 'Moon Western' this film includes many nods to that genre, including the design of the supply depot 'Farside Five'. Here the glass dome building apparently has the wooden front of a western style saloon bar!

After a quick 20-minute orbit Moon Zero Two touch's down at Farside Five, the closest safe landing site to her brothers claim. Unfortunately it will still take another 24-hour trip in a Moon Bug to get out to the mine. The supply base supervisor is not very helpful or too interested in Clem's Brother, fortunately Bill still has enough money left on his credit card to hire a Moon Bug and off they set, out into the dark forbidding Moonscape.
Bill's still not warmed to the lovely young Clem - especially as her casual remarks remind him of how old he is!
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The Moon Bug was built in miniature and as a rather impressive full size working prop, with the two cutting together rather well with little to tell them apart.
Below left; Special Effects Director Les Bowie operating the model Bug.
..... Below; views of the Bug-Dozer without it's scoop.

SOLO: We'll love the world we land on,
And love is what we'll be making.....

After a long but uneventful journey they arrive at the mining site, only to find her brother's igloo and Bug-Dozer empty - and no response to their radio calls?
What has happened to him?
Then in the distance they see a lonely figure - her brother - and going by that grinning skull it's possible that he might just be
DEAD!

Above left; director Roy Ward Baker is looking over Olson’s shoulder at a copy of CINEMA magazine.
* Wally's igloo is represented by a 'very small' prop building, highly questionable that anyone could live or work there for any length of time.
* Oddly for a science fiction film the actors wear different spacesuits for the Moon surface sequences, especially odd for a film that doesn't have a huge budget. It's quite possible that the other more expensive spacesuits were not finished in time for filming, or it could be that these were supposed to be the films actual spacesuits and were rejected and better ones ordered for the other scenes? However it's probably more likely to be a simple reason of practicality - it would be very hard indeed to have a fight in the heavier rubber and fibreglass suits, so these very much lighter and simple plastic ones were probably necessary. Unfortunately these are a very poor out-of-date 1950s style of design, complete with fishbowl helmets - and a very poor second to the primary spacesuits, that just happen to look like my favourite childhood toy - the superb Major Matt Mason.
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What appears to be a simple case of bad luck, on the dangerous Moon surface, soon looks like murder - as a group of gunmen make their move. Bill and Clem's Moon Bug is quickly shot to pieces but they escape in the nick of time. Hiding in the rocks Bill grabs his pistol and shoots it out with the three colour-coded bad guys.

* Oops! There are a couple of slip-ups in this action sequence. Bill somehow 'hears' the gunshot of the man on the rocks above him, which is impossible in the air-less vacuum of space. Upon being shot the villain dies as his suit looses all its air - and somehow it's occupant!
Then when Bill is thrown from the Bug-Dozer he looses his gun - but has it again in the next shot!

Left; one of the bad guys (stuntman Martin Grace) is prepared for his explosive death scene.

.After the shootout leaves their vehicle completely wrecked Bill and Clem have to take the damaged Bug-Dozer back to Farside Five.
Below left; An SFX outake, a Bug-Dozer shot cut from the final film.

Bug Shoot

The Moon Bug shots are done rather well, although the model bug really needs to be a bigger scale for the close-up views.
*Oops! The wire that pulls the model up the rock slope can be seen occasionally and the full size live-action prop moves too slowly.

Below centre; standing at the back Brian Johnson (Space 1999/Alien/Aliens)
"Yes I worked on it. Although along with a great many other technicians I didn't receive a credit as the effects were credited to Les Bowie, but there were a group of us on it actually. It was a terrible film as I recall but some of the effects and miniatures were quite nice. We had the 'benefit' of a director of photography who was particularly awkward to work with in terms of visual effects photography. He had these terrible photographs of the Moon, from some satellite or something that had landed there, and they were grossly under-exposed ektachrome and everything looked green. Because the pictures had this green tint he thought that the Moon was really green. I said to him "Look up at the Moon you can see that it's bloody grey and not green".
He wouldn't have it and so we had to colour all this cement dust green, because he insisted on it."

"We did the radio-controlled buggy and we had the full size one too. We were able to use them in the same shot with the big one driving along and passing behind an outcrop of rocks and then the model coming out the other side, which looked like it was going off miles in the distance."

(That is when it heads back to Farside Five. The same effect is used earlier in the film when they first arrive at the mining site - then the camera pans from a foreground miniature landscape with the Bug-Dozer model to then show the full-scale vehicle approaching, which is a really nice effect and helps to make the small studio set appear much larger than it actually is.)

"Les Bowie made sure that the effects were good because that was Les, even though the film was pretty awful. He was a master. He took pride in his work more than being worried about making money. That was what the guy was like."

Left; Nick Allder and Brian Johnson, later reunited for the special effects work on 'Space: 1999'.

SOLO: You know the way, we're flying,
me and you...........

Driving back across the Moon surface, which is now subjected to the full glare of the hot Sun, the damaged Bug starts to overheat and then catch fire.
Bill and Clem jump into their Moon suits and race for cover before the bug explodes.
Below; Stand-in's for the actors perform the run across the set, which was actually shot outdoors at night.

Left; Out-of-line special effect shot to clearly show the combination of a foreground landscape (with model Bug) at the top and a live-action section of Moonscape below.

With careful positioning and lighting the two blend together quite well, then explosions on the model and full size set were timed to go off simultaneously, with flying debris thrown onto the set and an additional explosive optical overlay to cover the join.

Safely back at Farside Five they find Bill's girlfriend, Liz Murphy, waiting to arrest them for the earlier bar fight
* Question, how did she get there, and why bother?
Before she can moan too much Bill quickly explains that Wally Taplin has been murdered - and then with a clever bluff forces the hapless supervisor to confess to killing him with poisoned air tanks.
* We never hear this mans name, even in the novel he is only called the (trading post) 'Supervisor', however according to the end credits he's called Smith.

But why did he do it? Suddenly Kemp realises Hubbards full plans for the asteroid, but too late........

.........as Hubbard and his henchmen arrive and Liz is shot dead.
Question, how did they manage to drive there in two and a bit days? In the book Hubbard explains that, like the police, he could hire a fast Bug and driver, although it's still hard to believe that anyone could drive half-way round the rough Moon surface in such a short time. Also in the final shooting script and book Liz manages to kill 'Jeff' before Harry shoots her. Jeff was a twin 'thug' to Harry and was involved in the earlier bar fight, his character was not used in the film and his lines are spoken by Harry.

SOLO: No more dry life ......CHORUS: Space is.... SOLO: I need the high life .... CHORUS: Space is wide......
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With Harry holding a gun to Clem's head Bill is forced to fly them back to the asteroid for its final course correction. The asteroid will now land on the dead Wally Taplin's mining site - which will then be transferred into Hubbard's ownership.

(2008) Catherine Schell is reunited with the chest-piece of her old spacesuit.

Catherine - 'We were specially measured for the suits, I remember going to a workshop that smelt very heavily of fibreglass chemicals. The suits were very well made, but we all joked on set about the plastic bits on the front - that looked rather like nipples!'

Director Sir Roy Ward Baker reads the 'Moon City News'

This was part of the publicity package given out by the film company. It details events happening in the movie as news items - dateline December 10th 2021.
However the film begins on May 9th 2021, whilst the novel is the same day but in 2020!

Above left; Clem uses a private phonewire connection to talk to Dimtri who is chained up, she then has to cut him free with a buzz-saw.
Humm... not sure that I would trust her to do that in zero gravity, would more than likely chop a hand off!
* Oops! Although the spacesuits are very impressive they are let-down by what appear to be the use of standard thin rubber kitchen gloves.

Below; The Asteroid set being constructed - the lower deck and hatch of the Moon Zero Two can be seen on the right.


On the Sapphire asteroid Hubbard relaxes in the knowledge that he's just made his biggest profit of his life - and the future of the Solar System is in his grasp. Unfortunately Clem manages to activate the spaceships controls and then a gunfight takes place. As dead men, in burst spacesuits, spin off into the blackness of deep space Bill, Dimtri and Clem get the upper hand, leaving Hubbard and Whitsun on a one way trip to the Lunar surface and destruction.

* Whilst the characters often remove their space helmets during the course of film this was actually impossible without the help of an assistant (with a screwdriver!), as the metal ring around the helmets base is used to lock it securely to the rubber collar.
*Oops! Again in the very last shot of the film the Moon Zero 2 model's upper flight deck is twisted to the left, bringing it in-line with the hatch below
and not in it's usual position over the leg & ladder?
* The four small footpads are adjustable, so that they can pivot on landing. Unfortunately they also occasionally move when the ship rotates in space.
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SOLO: Starshine - Glowing ................. Love is - Growing ................... I Don't need - I don't need showing .....................
...................... CHORUS: Space is wide open ......................... Space is wide ........................................ Space is wide open.

A happy ending as the trio fly back to Moon City.
Although Bill's long-time girlfriend has only just been brutally gunned down in front of him (and then died in his arms) he wastes no time in chatting up the very young and lovely (and now very rich) Miss Taplin. I like his style!

Moon Zero Two is certainly different to most other science fiction films and is generally well made for its time. Trying to do a space epic on a Hammer budget has been described as impossible but it was a very fine attempt.

When you consider the cartoon opening credits, the plot to grab a giant jewel, the slightly jokey style, the use of comedy actors in the villains roles, a lead man who can hardly be described as handsome, and various other faults this film should be classed as just 1960s camp nonsense. Yet when compared with the more usual sci-fi films, featuring Buck Rogers style heroes, or superheroes with special powers, laser gun fights, massive spaceship battles, aliens, brain-sucking monsters, timewarps and the like, then suddenly it begins to look almost normal, and God-forbid even a serious attempt at science fiction!
It's even one of the very few films to not add sound effects to all the space scenes, instead they tend to mostly use music, with sound only added to key action moments.

I have only ever viewed this film on a television screen and here the sets and effects look very good. Wires show up on only three occasions, and hardly ever on all the spacewalk sequences, and the studio limitations are only obvious on the full size moonscape mining set. How the films quality stood up to being projected on a big cinema screen is unknown to me, but as TV fair it's better than a lot of the rubbish that's out there.

Unseen on British terrestrial television for many years it has recently been showing up on Sky TV using nice new prints cropped for the 16:9 widescreen format and even better it's now out on DVD. Catch it if you can, it's an oddball Sci-Fi gem.

SOLO: No more dry.... life, Need the high.... life,
Starshine GLOWING, Love is GROWING... love is.... growing, Don't need.... showing...
CHORUS : Moon Zero Two, Moon Zeroo Twooooooo.

Music: Don Ellis ..... Lyrics: Martin Davison .....Vocals: Julie Driscoll

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Moon Zero Two Copyright Hammer Film Productions & Warner Bros-Seven Arts
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