Moon Zero Two (1969): a recap (part 8 of 10)

So it turns out that modern firearms can fire in a vacuum. Gunpowder contains its own oxidizer, so it doesn’t require an atmosphere. Special thanks to reader Greenhornet for the info, and for not making fun of my ignorance; class is always appreciated. Of course, that means ditching 500 words of guns-not-being-able-to-fire-in-a-vacuum jokes, so this segment might be a little short.

You can stop cheering now.

The article continues after these advertisements...

Bill and Clementine clamber out the back of the Moon Buggy and head over to Wally’s igloo. That’s Bill’s term, not mine, and I’m so glad no one decided to call it something “Western”, like a miner’s shack or something. Bill tries the door and it appears to be locked…

m020801

…and I’m wondering how anybody could actually live in a space this small for any length of time. And then I remembered this is a thing…

m020802

…and I realize that humans can adapt and live in shoeboxes if they have to. Still, I hope Wally dug himself a basement under that thing, a… cave for a man, if you will. And looking at the igloo, I can now understand why all those miners go apeshit when hitting town; it’d be like opening all the doors all at once on a prison’s solitary confinement wing. The more I think about it, the more shocked I am that there’s a waiting list of people looking for these claims; there’s gotta be an easier way to make a living.

While Bill is having a look at the house, Clementine discovers that Wally was mining and found himself a nice rich vein of nickel. That might not sound as rockstar sexy as gold or silver, but nickel is key in creating alloys like stainless steel and a host of other applications (there’s even nickel in, well, nickels). So yeah, if you wanted to make the Moon into an independent industrial power, nickel is a pretty big deal. And Wally would have definitely gone to town to stake the claim if he could have. Question is, where is he? Bill points out he couldn’t have gone far, because his “bugdozer” is still here.

And then Clementine sees someone standing nearby…

m020803

…and she runs to the form, calling out Wally’s name.

You know, maybe I’ve got this movie all wrong. What if Wally is really the bad guy, and he’s been all incommunicado because he’s up to no good? What if Wally is some criminal mastermind who engineered the satellite going down because it fits in with his nefarious schemes? What if…

m020804

…um… yeah. Never mind.

As an aside, this, the skeleton in the spacesuit? It’s almost iconic. You see it pop up on sci-fi paperbacks

m020805

…cartoons…

…movie posters…

m020807

…album covers…

m020808

…and even in modern sci-fi like Doctor Who.

Is Moon Zero Two the first time we’ve seen it? I really, really wish I could say so. I wanted to point to this movie and say “See! Look at how utterly, awesomely relevant it is! Look at how groundbreaking and influential this movie was!”

…But I came across pulp sci-fi covers that suggest otherwise, meaning pulp artists back then were pretty twisted and cool. What I’d like to know is what caused the guy’s teeth to fall out, and what made that crease in his skull. And looking at the skeleton, I can’t help but wonder how the conversation between director Roy Ward Baker and one of the suits at horror movie factory Hammer Films went:

Suit: So the movie takes place in space? Does that mean there will be space vampires?

Baker: Ah, no. You see, it’s a “Moon Western”.

Suit: Moon? Does that mean there will be werewolves running about? We don’t make enough werewolf movies…

Baker: No, it’s a Western, like cowboys and the like.

Suit: Doesn’t sound very scary. I know! What if one of Victor Frankenstein’s descendants has relocated to
the Moon and he’s continuing his experiments?

Baker: Look…

Suit: Is there lightning on the moon? You know, for the resurrection effects for the monster.

Baker: Sir…

Suit: I think Cushing and Lee may be available…

Baker: Sir…

Suit: Now that I think of it, we wouldn’t need lightning, would we? The monster can be atomic powered!

Baker: Sir…

Suit: Atomic Space Frankenstein, wandering the Moon Moors…

Baker: Sir, if I put a skeleton in a scene, may I please have my movie back?

Damn, I’m getting some serious mileage out of that skeleton. It’s awesome how this scene came just in time for Halloween, almost like I planned it.

Bill buries poor Wally, and all I’m thinking is, wouldn’t you want to bring him back to Moon City for an autopsy? And then I read someone’s speculations online about what would happen to a corpse in a space suit. It’s scary what you can find people talking about in their spare time when you Google stuff. This guy pointed out that the water in the body wouldn’t have any place to go, so while you’re seeing a skull in the helmet, the rest of the body’s probably turned into goo pooling down in the gloves and boots. I’m guessing the smell alone would melt your eyeballs. So yeah, Bill, you go ahead and bury Wally; nobody’s gonna wanna open that particular Christmas present.

Bill did save Wally’s backpack, though. He points out to Clementine that one of Wally’s two oxygen tanks is full, and the man went two years without making a mistake, meaning Kemp’s got his suspicions. They head into the bug and get ready to move out, when they spot some guys outside. Bill calls to them and demands they identify themselves.

m020810

Hey, maybe it’s not what it appears. Maybe their radios are down and they’ve got a note tied to the bullet. The shot takes out the bug’s window, and Bill drives it blind around a corner while the bad guys scatter and take pot shots at it. Out of sight, Bill and Clementine bail and hide and he attaches a wire from his backpack to hers. He tells her they’re on “telephone” now. I don’t know why they couldn’t have just touched helmets and talked that way. Or is somebody going to now tell me that doesn’t work? Whatever. Bill tells Clementine not to say a word and the two wait for the bad guys. The three thugs come around the corner and approach the stalled, shot up Moon Bug…

m020811

…and one of them tells Bill and Clementine in a strange accent to “Come on out, all of you, I will drill you like a sieve.” Yeah, because being told I’m going to get perforated when I show my face is a great way to get me to come out. Waaaaaaait a minute. The foreign accent, the three colors the thugs are wearing… The true villains are Lithuanians!

m020812

No wonder Hubbard was wondering about Kaminski’s nationality before; he was worried the engineer was Lithuanian and working for his rivals! In fact, what if Kaminski is one of these three guys? I mean, how did they know Bill and Clementine were going to be here? What if Kaminski had a spare moon suit stored away in Moon Zero Two and called up his friends to meet them here at Wally’s place? Wait, remember Otto (if you don’t, go back and read part two. I’ll wait)? What if Kaminski sabotaged Otto’s Moon Ferry and got him killed because he was trying to thwart Hubbard’s plans? What if Hubbard isn’t the bad guy at all, and he’s fighting a private little war against Lithuania to save the Moon? Why do I get the feeling I’m writing a much more interesting plot than what we’re ultimately going to get?

Bill tells the Lithuanians (hey, I’m going with that until I know otherwise) over the radio that Clementine’s been shot, and the thugs blow holes in the Moon Bug, and I have to admit it’s kind of cool how rather than having sound in a vacuum, all the visual violence is counterpointed with music, with gun shots and explosions becoming trumpet blares and drum beats. Bill blasts Greenie from ambush.

m020813

Hah! Take that, Lithuania! That’ll put a crimp in your plans for Lunar annexation! Kemp and Clementine make a run for it, finding a shortcut through an abbreviated tunnel to Wally’s tiny home. They head to the igloo, but at least one of the bad guys got to the “bugdozer” and is preparing to run them down. That cave wasn’t much of a “shortcut”, now was it, Kemp? Bill’s shot ricochets off the ‘dozer’s scoop, and one of the other Lithuanians takes a shot at Bill and misses. How can you possibly miss that helmet, man? It’s huge! Bill fires back at the sniper…

m020814

…and I swear to God, the man deflates!

m020815

So they have inflatable thugs on the Moon. Truly, the future is a world of wonders.

Kemp makes a dash for the bugdozer and hops onto the scoop in an attempt to shoot the final bad guy Red. But Bill falls off and scrambles back while Red turns on the bugdozer’s slicing teeth of doom. Bill is buried under some debris, and Red decides to get out to check on him rather than, you know, maybe depress the scoop and carve Kemp up just to be sure. Considering how he just killed two of his friends, if I were Red I’d assume Bill was either the luckiest bastard on the Moon or some sort of nigh-unstoppable murder machine. Turns out Bill was playin’ possum and he clips Red’s air supply.

m020816

Red starts to choke, which means his other air tank was empty. I guess that means Bill really is the luckiest guy on the Moon, then. Kemp has Clementine give him Wally’s pack and he removes the full tank, then he swaps out Red’s damaged one for it… and Red dies! Bill realizes that whatever was in that tank ain’t air, and they’ve got proof that Wally was murdered. Clementine asks the sensible question: how do they get out of here with their bug having been shot to hell? Bill has them check out the bugdozer, and he figures that if they don’t use the heating and cooling units, they’ve got enough juice for 150 miles. Problem is, it’s 200 miles to Farside Five.

How will Bill and Clementine make it back to Farside Five? Will Lithuania send more death squads to silence them? Join us next time to find out!

Multi-Part Article: Moon Zero Two: a recap

You may also like...

  • Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I’ve seen this movie several times and never thought about what the inside of Wally’s space suit must be like until I was reading this recap. While I was eating lunch, of course. And then you promptly start describing exactly what I was trying to not think about. While I was eating lunch. Oh well. I didn’t really need to finish that soup anyway.

    • Thomas Stockel

      That reminds me; was “goo” the right word? I was thinking of using “soup” instead. What do you think? 😉

      • Naked Bunny with a Whip

        You see my problem!

  • Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Given we’re on the Moon, I’m glad that someone sells a line of Power Rangers-colored space suits.

  • Gallen Dugall

    Awesome as always.
    About corpses on the Moon. I would think that the seals would break down in a pressure suit of any sort if not maintained in the bake/freeze cycle of being exposed on the lunar surface. In a vacuum the body would desicate and in the bake freeze cycle. It seems likely as if most of the freeze dried flesh would break away to collect at the bottom of the suit as a powder.

  • Gallen Dugall

    “I don’t know why they couldn’t have just touched helmets and talked that way.”
    When a water line in Luca Parmitano’s suit burst and began filling his helmet, this was during a space walk a couple of years ago, it shorted out all his systems and he had to touch helmets to communicate with Chris Cassidy – who could see the guys helmet filling with water. Everyone was far more freaked out by Luca almost drowning in his suit than Luca was.
    Confirmed in reality!

  • Greenhornet

    “Touching helmets” in “First Men In the Moon” bothered me for years. They wore those big, brass diving helmets and I imagined it going like this:
    CLUNK!
    “OWWW! Dammit! My ears!”

    Oh my God, Gallen! That’s a story Hollywood couldn’t top!

    • Gallen Dugall

      He said it mostly clung to the back and top of his head slowly working its way forward to cover one eye, but that he got back inside before it covered his mouth or nose. Kinda like that blob creature.
      NASA panicked. They had no contingency or procedure for such an event. Failure of imagination is NASA’s arch nemesis.

  • danbreunig

    The comparisons to other mid/late 60s sci-fi movies (the pulp fiction novels, First Men In The Moon, Dr. Strangelove a few recap parts ago) just made me think of one more, as well as a favorite sci-fi rarity of mine–Crack In The World.

    It wasn’t about the skeleton in the spacesuit imagery that reminded me about it, but what you said about the outcrop of nickel that Wally discovered. The premise of CITW was to drill into the earth’s core to purposely bring lava welling to the surface in order to mass consume geothermal energy. One of the side benefits would be the easy mining because the precious metals would already be molten and would just need separating (just like they did en masse on Mustafar). Of course that metal was nickel–plus iron and manganese because theoretically those are the primary metals that compose the earth’s core.

    So owning a nickel mine on the moon for potential mass space industry use–quite plausible.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Oh man, I vaguely remember that movie. It’s one of those films shown locally on WKBD back in the day.

  • Doltsbane

    As a certified (certifiable?) science nitpicker, I have two problems with Wally’s remains. A – It’s amazing that someone has autopsied him and then stuck him back into his suit and propped him up. Why do I say that? Because of the glaringly obvious horizontal cut mark across the forehead where the calvarium (thank you Dr. G.) was sawn open. B – If he’s decomposed in there, why isn’t his soft suit blown up like a balloon with decomp gases. If he was wearing one of those nifty hard suits that the guys on the Moon Zero Two sport it might make sense, but not the flexible Moon suits.