MOON ZERO TWO
Moon Zero Two was released two months after the Moon Landing and was clearly an attempt to exploit the then interest in matters Lunar. Alas, it finds Hammer ill at ease in knowing exactly how to handle futurist science-fiction. While they had made various ventures into science-fiction such as X the Unknown (1956), The Damned/These are the Damned (1961) and the Quatermass films in fact, director Roy Ward Baker had just come from directing the third of these, Quatermass and the Pit/Five Million Years to Earth (1967) most of these are sf-horror hybrids and do not involved speculative future scenarios. As a result of Hammers seeming uncertainty, Moon Zero Two was billed with the unappealing concept of the first space western. The characters are stock types drawn from the Western the ruthless land baron, the good sheriff, the prospector. The wild frontier aspect is played up with anti-gravity barroom brawls, astronauts riding asteroids that look suspiciously like horses, while even the Farside general-store looks incongruously like it has a tethering post outside it in the vacuum.
Many people look down on Moon Zero Two as a result of the space western thing but I would actually it is not a bad film. In fact, one is prepared to argue its merits as an unsung science-fiction gem. The space western silliness never intrudes too much on the otherwise serious story. It has a more-than-credible screenplay that develops a worthwhile and intelligent story out of a credible Lunar scenario, giving a realistic seeming speculative glimpse of life on The Moon, imaginatively extrapolating facets of technology for dealing with the lunar frontier, which is exactly what a good science-fiction film should do. The journey across the lunar sunrise is an evocative, impressive sequence. Unfortunately, the film is made on one of Hammers usual economy budgets and the effects and sets dont have what they need to fully carry the vision, especially in having to ignore depiction of the effects of the Moons one-sixth gravity. The animated credits and jazz score incongruously mimic the absurdities of 1960s films like The Pink Panther (1964).
Amid the cast line-up, this was the first English-language leading role for Hungarian-born Catherina von Schell [born Catherina Schell von Bauschlott]. She later anglicised her name to Catherine Schell, appeared in various of the James Bond and Peter Sellers Pink Panther films, before attaining fame as the perkily sexy shape-changer Maya in the second season of tvs Space: 1999 (1975-7). American actor James Olson appeared in one other Hammer film Crescendo (1970) and then his big role as the lead scientist in The Andromeda Strain (1971).
Roy Ward Baker became one of the prominent directors to rise in the latter decade of the Anglo-horror industry. Elsewhere, Baker made Quatermass and the Pit/Five Million Years to Earth (1967), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracula (1971), Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) at Hammer; Asylum (1972), ... And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973) and The Vault of Horror (1973) at Amicus; and the post-Amicus The Monster Club (1980).