MOON ZERO TWO (1969) Reviews of Hammer’s space Western

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‘The first moon “western”… an asteroid worth millions. A robbery. A murder.’
Moon Zero Two is a 1969 British science fiction film about a space salvager who helps a criminal industrialist obtain a sapphire asteroid, while also helping a woman find her brother, a missing miner/prospector.

Directed by Roy Ward Baker (The Monster Club; The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires; And Now the Screaming Starts!; The Vault of Horror: Asylum; Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde; Scars of Dracula; The Vampire Lovers; Quatermass and the Pit) from a screenplay written by producer Michael Carreras based on a story co-written by Gavin Lyall, Frank Hardman and Martin Davison.

The jazzy soundtrack score was composed by Don Ellis (Ruby; The Seven-Ups; The French Connection and its sequel). The title song was sung by Julie Driscoll.

The Hammer Film Production stars James Olson (The Andromeda Strain), Catherine Schell (Space: 1999 TV series), Warren Mitchell (The Night Caller; Unearthly Stranger; The Trollenberg Terror aka The Crawling Eye), Adrienne Corri (Madhouse; Vampire Circus; A Study in Terror; Devil Girl from Mars) Ori Levy, Dudley Foster and Bernard Bresslaw (The Ugly Duckling).

Moon Zero Two isn’t one of the most noteworthy non-horror efforts to emerge from Hammer, but I wouldn’t deem it a dud. Though it’s certainly easy to poke fun at […] the flick has plenty of moments where seeing how it crisscrosses genres is kind of cool. Moon Zero Two never quite takes off, but it’s no lunar snoozer either.” Attack from Planet B

“Using American westerns as inspiration, the story weaves in gunfights, claim-jumping, and a bar-room brawl, while accurately predicting life fifty years on. Plastic money, laptop computers, sub-surface ice, and solar energy are now a reality. Made during the Cold War, the film looks forward to Americans and Russians being friends again…” Black Hole

MZ2 isn’t great, but it’s worthwhile B sci-fi entertainment. It has a very dated look and some pretty marginal acting. The special effects are okay at times, less so at others (even by the standards of the day). Yet, beyond the slightly campy womanizing flavor, lurks a taste of the future of sci-fi’s gritty vision of the future.” Classic Sci-Fi Movies

” …much talk and not a lot of action. Despite a cool shootout sequence on the Moon’s craters and a humorous gravity-challenged saloon brawl, the film’s thrills are too few and far between.” DVD Drive-In

“The immaculate space suits look like holdovers from bad ’50s movies, and the less said about the dancing girls who perform during innumerable scenes taking place in a moon lounge, the better. Long stretches of time pass without spaceship action, and this movie’s idea of a wild action scene is a zero-gravity bar brawl that the lazy filmmakers merely stage as a reduced-gravity bar brawl.” Every ’70s Movie

” …the movie has a decent plot, and there are some fun moments here. Nevertheless, the movie falls flat; the pace is often turgid, and James Olson, though not a bad actor, lacks the charisma to make his character appealing. As a result, the movie never really takes off.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

” …the world of 2021 looks almost exactly like the world of 1969 – only with brightly coloured wigs and a great deal more pleather. Outside of one impressively large screen, there’s no sense of any attempt to predict the shape of things to come. Even the main spaceship here looks like a dead-ringer for the Apollo 11 lunar module.” Film Blitz

“The film’s highlights are a gravity-free bar brawl, however brief, and cartoon opening credits in a loony spirit not exhibited by the mostly serious story that follows […] Moon Zero Two certainly looks cool — and sounds it, with a swingin’ ’60s score — but feels forever set at quarter-speed.” Flick Attack

Moon Zero Two’s many highlights include Stokes Cartoons’ brilliant title sequence, the no-gravity bar-room brawl and dialogue like, “that monument there is where Neil Armstrong landed back in 1969.” The whole tongue-in-cheek exercise uncannily predicts the kitsch psychedelia of Gerry Anderson’s TV series UFO and Space:1999, the latter also starring Catherina Von Schell. An absolute must for lava-lamp lovers everywhere, Moon Zero Two is so far out it’s very nearly in.” Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes,The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films

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“James Olson doesn’t quite have the charisma to pull off his character, but still has a slight laid back charm […] Both stupid and intelligent at times though not quite as barmy as you might expect, Moon Zero Two cannot really be counted a success, but it remains a fitfully engaging oddity in Hammer’s filmography…” Horror Cult Films

“Though the set designs and miniature work are modest at best, there is a special charm found within the production. Simply put, the film just screams fun. If you’re looking for a serious trip into the great unknown or a contemplative look at our society living amongst the stars, then I suggest you look elsewhere.” The Lucid Nightmare

” …despite all its shortcomings, I found myself riveted just at the groovy beauty of it all. A neat cinematic time capsule of what people’s dreams of the future once were, I left it with a smile on my face and a song stuck in my head. The fashions, the effects, the plastic furniture–it made me happy…” Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies

“Even while paying homage to old westerns, Moon Zero Two also tries to predict the future, which looks a lot like 1969. This means psychedelic costumes and a Vegas-style dance revue at the Moon Hilton, one that is reminiscent of the USO show in Apocalypse Now. The mix of styles is enjoyably absurd and everyone seems to be having fun playing cowboy.” Through the Shattered Lens

” …never makes up its mind whether it is a spoof or a straightforward adventure yarn and the uneasy combo comes adrift […] It may provide some mild amusement for easygoing audiences but overall it’s a fairly dull experience, despite some capable artwork, special effects and lensing by Paul Bessen” Variety

Moon Zero Two at least looks great and is full of cheesy, albeit competent special effects. Alas, the film suffers from somewhat of an identity crisis. While the flick is somewhat fun when it’s transplanting western clichés onto the moon, the tone is really out of whack.” The Video Vacuum

Choice dialogue:
Bill Kemp: “I’m always at a disadvantage when I haven’t got any clothes on.”
Bill Kemp: “What did you call this, pampas punch? It tastes like Tijuana brass polish.”


Cast and characters:
James Olson … Bill Kemp
Catherine Schell … Clem Taplin
Warren Mitchell … J.J. Hubbard
Adrienne Corri … Liz Murphy
Ori Levy … Karminski
Dudley Foster … Whitsun
Bernard Bresslaw … Harry
Neil McCallum … Space Captain
Joby Blanshard … Smith
Michael Ripper … First Card Player
Robert Tayman … Second Card Player
Sam Kydd … Barman
Keith Bonnard … Junior Customs Officer
Leo Britt … Senior Customs Officer
Carol Cleveland … Hostess – Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Filming locations:
Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England

Interviewed in 1992, for Starlog #183, director Roy Ward Baker said: “Moon Zero Two was a bad picture. It was hopeless and never got off the ground. We didn’t have enough money to do it properly. It was crazy – a complete muddle. And, it was undercut by the fact that you could turn on the television and see Neil Armstrong jumping about on the real Moon.”

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