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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Moontrap

February 21, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #450: Moontrap

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that would be terrified of an alien robot because, for the love of God, it would be an alien robot, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred and fifty, I take a look at the low budget sci-fi horror flick from 1989, Moontrap, starring Walter Koenig and Bruce Campbell.



Moontrap, directed by Robert Dyke, is a low budget sci-fi horror flick that was a video store staple back when the world still had video stores in abundance. I do remember it showing up on cable every now and then, but just about every video store I frequented back in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s had Moontrap in stock, usually in the sci-fi section (I saw it in a few horror sections due to the presence of Bruce Campbell). The movie sort of disappeared as video stores went away, never hitting DVD or Blu-ray until 2014 via Olive Films. You can still find bootlegs of it at conventions and whatnot but the Olive Films release is really the one you should get/have. That release has some special features on it and, despite looking kind of hazy, still looks amazing.

Moontrap has Koenig and Campbell as Jason Grant and Ray Tanner, NASA astronauts in a day and age when the space shuttle only has two people on it (the late 1980’s, or it could be the early 1990’s. The movie doesn’t really spend much time on when it actually takes place. It’s almost like it’s the future but not really). While on a routine two-man mission, they come across what appears to be a disabled spaceship. It isn’t a spaceship from Earth, though (it isn’t the Russians or anyone else on Earth with a space program). Grant decides to do a spacewalk to examine the wreckage up close. The ship seems to have been attacked by something. But what? And where the hell did the ship come from? Grant finds a red metal object among the wreckage. He also finds a very dead, dried out human life form.

A human life form? What?

Grant and Tanner return to Earth with the red object and the dead body and take it to a NASA lab for examination. Various tests indicate that the dead human life form is fourteen thousand years old. Fourteen thousand years old? How is that possible? And what the hell is the red thing?

Grant and Tanner recommend to government tight-ass Haskell (Reavis Graham) that they need to go to the moon to find out what the hell is going on with all of this stuff. Reavis isn’t too keen on that idea, since no one in the government wants to go back to the moon (the Russians are apparently trying to get to the moon, but no one seems to give a crap). As Grant and Tanner plead their case, the red object in the lab starts moving around and we find out that it’s some sort of robot. This alien robot does a quick scan of the lab area, then decides to demolish the lab and use various pieces from that lab to create a body for itself. The robot then moves out into a hallway where it confronts Grant and Tanner, scientist Barnes (John J. Saunders), and a bunch of NASA security guards. A melee ensues.

The security guards have no idea how to defeat the robot. They shoot and shoot and shoot at the metal monstrosity but nothing happens. Grant and Tanner decide to get their hands dirty and attack the robot head on, with Grant coming up with a takedown plan using the NASA facility’s air ducts. This plan actually works, and Haskell decides to recommend to the President Grant and Tanner’s plan to go to the moon.

So Grant and Tanner go to the moon. Much like their routine space shuttle missions, this moon trip only involves the two of them (well, there is a guy named George who is back up and orbits the moon, but he doesn’t really figure into the main action of the story. I also think his name might be Beck, but I’m not entirely sure about that). Using similar equipment from previous moon missions, Grant and Tanner ride around the moon’s surface looking for clues. They eventually come across what appears to be a temple structure and enter it. While all of that is going, a different alien robot reveals itself on the moon and starts causing mischief. It disables various machines and equipment, takes out George’s ship, and then goes after Grant and Tanner.

And while all of that is going on, Grant and Tanner find a human woman inside of the temple. This woman, Mera (Leigh Lombardi), initially in suspended animation, can’t really communicate with either Grant or Tanner. Grant and Tanner decide to protect her, though, because she’s proof that aliens are real. That robot is still out there, though. How are they all going to get off the moon in one piece?

Moontrap moves along at a deliberate pace. It doesn’t waste time, but there are moments where you wonder if director Dyke could have found a way to make the story move faster. The action scenes, both on Earth and on the moon, aren’t as smooth as they perhaps should be. And some of the space special effects are cheesy as hell. However, that “cheesiness” gives the movie a personality that today’s CGI fests could only dream of having. The movie also features astronauts using Uzis on the moon. Ridiculous? Sure. But it’s goddamn Uzis on the moon. When was the last time you saw something like that in a modern movie?

Now, there are some odd choices sprinkled throughout the movie, especially with the sound. For whatever reason, the movie decides to do the whole “no sound in space” thing, which is jarring when Grant and Tanner use their Uzis on the moon. It may be “realistic” but, in a movie where only two people go to the moon to find out why there are other humanoid creatures in the universe and why there are killer robots, too, having soundless machine guns is just weird. And when the music gets louder in those sequences you wonder if there’s something wrong with your speakers.

I also don’t understand why the movie doesn’t say, explicitly, what year it takes place in. Just how far in the future does all of this takes place? Grant talks about being in Vietnam, so does the movie actually take place in the late 1980’s? Or is the whole “I was in ‘Nam” thing just a product of when the movie was made (all heroes in action movies back then were in ‘Nam)? Maybe I’ll have to listen to the commentary track on the Blu-ray one day.

As I said, even with the odd choices throughout the movie, Moontrap has more personality than most modern sci-fi movies. The moon set looks amazing, the killer alien robot is cool and dangerous (how is this alien robot not a series of action figures right now?), and there’s a real sense of “Who cares if it seems ridiculous? It all makes its own kind of sense in the end,” which helps make the movie super watchable.


Koenig does a great job as Jason Grant, the actual hero of the story. It must have been a hoot for Koenig to be the hero instead of the third banana in a sci-fi property in Moontrap. He doesn’t do his “Chekov” voice once, he shows that he’s a badass with a shotgun and an Uzi, and he has no problem getting in a guy’s face. It’s also interesting how Grant is a devoted family man (he has a son that he tries to spend as much time as possible with). Why the heck didn’t Koenig get more opportunities to play the badass hero after this movie?

Campbell is superb as sidekick Ray Tanner. Despite being a sort of top B-movie star at the time due to Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, he never tries to upstage Koenig. He has some great one liners, shows that he can take on robots with the same gusto he takes on demon zombies, and he also gets to karate kick a vending machine into submission. That kind of thing is always cool to see.

Leigh Lombardi does a decent job as the alien woman Mera. She doesn’t say much but she can handle herself when it comes to the action moments she’s tasked with. She also has a pretty nifty topless scene that comes out of nowhere.

John J. Saunders has a great scene where his scientist character Barnes decides, in a split second, that science is worthless if an alien robot shoots at you, and Reavis Graham is a typical 1980’s movie government official (he’s an inept asshole). I loved his performance. Great stuff.

The movie kind of peters out at the end. The story gets kind of murky, and the while the movie suggests a sequel is possible, it probably should have been clearer that that’s what they wanted to do. The ending doesn’t kill the movie, but it makes things murky.

Even with the odd choices and the less than stellar ending, Moontrap is a bunch of fun from start to finish. It’s a movie that, if you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it in a while, you should make an effort to track it down and check it out. I loved it.

See Moontrap. See it, see it, see it.

Now, there is a sort of sequel/remake out there, made by the same people, called Moontrap: Target Earth. I haven’t seen that movie, nor do I have any idea if it’s any good or not. So just be aware that Moontrap: Target Earth is not the same thing as Moontrap.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Around 10.

Explosions: Several.

Nudity?: Yes. Some of it is quite exquisite.

Doobage: Aliens robot on the moon, talking over the opening credits, the space shuttle flying through space, a very low budget mission control, hilarious nicknames, computer bullshit, spacewalks, weird writing, spaceship touching, a dead body floating in space, off screen autopsy, glass shattering, more computer bullshit, robot body creation, head crushing, a coffee/hot chocolate/soup vending machine, karate kicking a vending machine, alien robot attack, an arm wound, electricity out of the face, air duct bullshit, exploding head, going to the moon, moon bullshit, Uzis on the moon, human remains on the moon, gun stealing, a dead battery, a total lack of sound in space, attempted robot killing, bleeding from the mouth, a pop up tent on the moon, alien sex, off screen decapitation, spare human body parts on the wall, attempted saw attack, space shuttle stock footage, an attempted missile attack, using an Uzi to move through space, a massive explosion, and a junkyard.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: The 1969 moon landing, Walter Koenig, Bruce Campbell, talk of golf, a sort of Star Trek parody, Bruce Campbell asleep, guy banter, low budget special effects, looking for radioactivity, hazy stock footage of the space shuttle landing, NASA, Bruce Campbell fucking around with a vending machine, alien robot attack, Eclipse Comics, Walter Koenig doing pushups, Bruce Campbell doing a Ralph Kramden impersonation, Bruce Campbell complaining about beer, a lunar rover, people running on the moon, Uzis on the moon, a total lack of sound in space, moon alien sex, more space shuttle stock footage, and a junkyard.

Best lines: “Tranquility base, the eagle has landed,” “Chuck, what is the water like today?,” “Screw you. Sir,” “Hey, Chuck, are you tracking this?,” “Is that what I think it is? I think it is,” “This is history,” “Hey, partner, you see any little green dudes out there?,” “He’s fourteen thousand years old. He’s pre-history,” “You know, you have a real problem here, friend,” “We have to go back to the moon,” “I’d like to kill this goddamn machine! Come on!,” “Don’t even think of trying this without me,” “Hey, we don’t take no shit from a machine,” “Get the sonofabitch!,” “Over here, laser breath!,” “Still undecided?,” “So, grease burgers it is!,” “What are you babbling about?,” “Screw you, old buddy!,” “Boys, we’re going to do a little search and destroy on the goddamn moon!,” “Hey! Anybody call a cab?,” “Christ. Guns on the moon! I don’t think we’re the first, pal,” “What do you think? Never mind. I know what to do,” “My God! She’s alive!,” “Look, goddamit! We’re human!,” “You know, those Kaaliums are really starting to bug me!,” “Okay, Einstein, what next? We walk. Why didn’t I think of that?,” “What a screw up!,” “Seems like they never learn,” and “Damn government contractors.”

Rating: 8.0/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For This Week


Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 3 begins Sunday night!: Finally, the third season of the best show on television hits Starz this Sunday night at 9PM EST (I’ll be reviewing the show for 411 once again). This season will apparently introduce us to Ash’s unknown daughter and feature the biggest deadite to date. This season could also be the last one, as there are rumblings around that Starz, under new ownership, is looking to get rid of the show because it’s pirated at a high rate and is losing money. If you’re an Ash fan, make sure you sign up for Ash via cable, satellite, or the Starz app, and then watch Ash vs. Evil Dead!


The Master: The Complete Series: The fine folks at Kino Lorber are releasing this long sought after cult TV show starring Lee Van Cleef, Timothy Van Patten, and Sho goddamn Kosugi, which lasted for one season of 13 episodes back in 1984. It doesn’t look like there are any special features on this home video release, which is a bummer (a documentary on the show’s origin and production would have been awesome), but just having the show readily available is enough for me. Up until this release The Master was so goddamn hard to find. There were VHS compilations from back in the day, and I believe that two of those movie compilations are available as part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 home video series, but the show has a whole has been basically gone since it went off the air. I don’t remember ever seeing it in reruns anywhere (did it run on the old Sci Fi Channel back in the day at some point?) and I’ve never seen a bootleg of it (and I’ve talked to multiple bootleg people over the years and most of them have never even heard of the show). So this set is an absolute must have. How many The Master fans are out there?


Mom and Dad: This horror comedy from Brian Tyler (of the Crank movies and the still awesome to this day Gamer) stars Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair and has been getting some good reviews. It looks insane and features a premise that will no doubt make people squirm (parents go batshit for 24 hours and want to kill their kids for some reason). And, man, Nicolas Cage sure is racking up quite the B-movie resume, isn’t he? The man is a goddamn machine.


Drag Me to Hell: This Blu-ray special edition actually came out last week, but I missed it for some reason. Anyway, the fine folks at Shout! Factory/Scream Factory put this Sam Raimi movie out with all sorts of special features and whatnot, including an unrated version of the movie. I don’t really get why this movie divides so many people. Yes, it isn’t the gorefest we all hoped it would be, but it’s still got some nasty stuff in it, and it’s fun as hell. Sam Raimi back making a horror movie? Why the hell wouldn’t I want to watch that? I loved this when I saw it in a theatre, and I look forward to seeing it again. And, hey, what better way to get back in the Ash vs. Evil Dead mindset than with a movie that could very well exist in the Evil Dead cinematic universe? You know, in case you can’t watch the first two seasons of the show or Evil Dead 1 or 2 or Army of Darkness.



Death House opens this Friday! Is it playing at a movie theatre near you?

Go here and find out!


B-Movie News


Fangoria is back!: Last Wednesday, it was announced, without much official fanfare, that Fangoria, the once mighty and important horror movie magazine that fell on seriously hard times and hadn’t produced a print version in damn near three years, was under new ownership and that the magazine would be back later in 2018. An outfit called Cinestate out of Texas apparently purchased the Fangoria brand (along with Starlog and Gorezone) and is set to produce an actual print magazine again.

Now, this new Fangoria is set to be a quarterly instead of a monthly like it used to be, which is better than nothing (I’d suspect that, if the new quarterly is a success Cinestate will add months to the publishing schedule). Tony Timpone and Michael Gingold are set to return in some capacity, and Phil Nobile, Jr. of “Birth.Movies.Death” is set to be the editor-in-chief. Cinestate also wants to use the Fangoria brand to eventually produce movies, novels, and podcasts, which sounds like a great idea since people are generally into those things.

The first new issue is set to be released in time for Halloween. Be sure to check out the Fangoria website for details about the new company, what the company wants to do, and how the new company wants to “make things right” with the people who had subscriptions under the previous regime and got screwed out of issues. That sounds like an excellent first step towards getting back its once good name.

Fangoria is back. And that’s just damn awesome.


Scott Adkins wants to make a Ninja 3!: According to this article over at Action-Flix.com, the great Scott Adkins wants to make another Ninja movie, and he wants everyone to go to his social media pages and make it known that you want a third movie.

I know I want a third movie. The first one, Ninja, was a sort of a modern version of the ninja classics from the 1980’s, while the second flick, Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, was a badass martial arts movie with some ninja stuff in it to satisfy the title of the movie. They’re both awesome in their own ways and different enough to be easily recognizable. Perhaps the third one will be a smash up of the first two, with the best martial arts Adkins and company can put together (I would assume that the great Isaac Florentine would direct again, but who knows? The guy might be busy when it’s time to make a third one) and all of the weirdness that the first one had.

Adkins is on a roll at the moment. Accident Man just hit home video (on both DVD and Blu-ray. Make sure you get one or the other or, if you can, both), Savage Dog kicked ass last year, and Boyka: Undisputed 4 rocked hard, and he’s got maybe three more movies coming out this year (Triple Threat, with Michael Jai White, Iko Uwais, and Tony Jaa, The Debt Collector with Michael Pare, Tony Todd, Vladimir Kulich, and Louis Mandylor, and some sort of sci-fi movie called Incoming where he’s a CIA agent on a satellite prison or something). And those are just the ones we know about. There could be others (check out the Scott Adkins imdb page here).

So check out the article, head on over to Scott Adkins social media, and make your voice heard! Ninja 3 needs to happen!

Ninja 3! Ninja 3! Ninja 3!


Who is the Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!


Next Issue: The Death Wish Marathon begins with Death Wish (1974)!



david j. moore
Jino Kang
Vladimir Kulich
Paul Mormando
Shahin Sean Solimon
Michael Matteo Rossi
Tyrone Magnus
Hector Barron
Jeffrey Orgill
Michael Baumgarten
R. Marcos Taylor
Don “The Dragon” Wilson
Paul Kyriazi
Eric Jacobus
Juju Chan
Luke LaFontaine
Marco Siedlemann
Sam Firstenberg
Amariah Olson
Alexander Nevsky
Mathias Hues
Kristanna Loken
Steve Mitchell
Albert Pyun
Brad Thornton
Mathieu Ratthe
Damien Power
Kelsey Carlisle
Mike Dwyer
Nicholas Bushman
Brahim Achabbakhe
Richard LeMay
Andrew David Barker
Cynthia Rothrock
Leslie Simpson
C. Courtney Joyner
Shahin Sean Solimon (2)
Eric Miller
Alexander Nevsky (2)
Christopher Lawrence Chapman
James Mark
Casper Van Dien
Chris Mark
James E. Wilson
Barry Hunt
Vincent J. Roth


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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.


Walter Koenig– Jason Grant
Bruce Campbell– Ray Tanner
Leigh Lombardi– Mera
John J. Saunders– Barnes
Reavis Graham– Haskell
Robert Kurcz– Koreman
Tom Case– Beck

Directed by Robert Dyke
Screenplay by Tex Ragsdale

Distributed by SGE Home Video, Starmaker Entertainment, and Olive Films

Rated R for violence, language, and some nudity.
Runtime– 92 minutes

Buy it here