111. Moon Zero Two (1969)

It always amused me that they get the moon landing date off by two whole days.

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This is my favorite of the Season One bunch!

It’s a relaxed, casual movie that fits the relaxed, casual Season One like a glove.

A great late night or “wind down” option!

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Well, now I got the movie’s opening theme (MOOOON ZEROOO TWOOO!) back in my head again.

That’s okay, though. It’s great! :smiley:

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MZ2 features one of my favorite music scores from an MST3K movie. Its composer Don Ellis is most famous for his score for The French Connection.

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The Making of Moon Zero Two (1969).

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We’re Dedicating The Locker Room To Him.

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I like how the hotel advertises that it’s “South American Week” and then the bar is serving “pampas punch.” Pampas is a region in Argentina which includes a large fertile plain known for a native species of grass. It’s tall and fast-growing, and became popular for ornamental landscaping, notably in the UK in the 70s, although it was first popularized in the Victorian era.

The movie leaves you to connect the dots. They grow plants in the domes to produce oxygen, and then harvest them for consumption. It’s too expensive to import alcohol from Earth. Pampas grass is still grass, and thus not particularly edible. So… apparently they make cheap alcohol out of it and then pass it off as a fun theme week? And then you see the bartender garnish the drink with a blade of grass.

They put some thought into this stuff.

The funny thing is that they keep referring to the moonshine (Earthshine?) as “rocket fuel.” The thing is that the Saturn V’s second stage rockets (as well as the later Space Shuttle main rocket) used a combination of liquid hydrogen burned with liquid oxygen for propulsion. The combination of which is… pure water. So when the engineer agrees with Not Billy Crystal that “It is rocket fuel,” he’s really not far off…

I like her.

He seems to get around. Whatever got cut for time, it’s clear enough in the episode that they’ve got history. (The engineer even tells Kemp to marry her.) But it seems he’s also got history with the flight attendant, who makes a saucy reply when Kemp tells Taplin that he’s at a disadvantage when naked.

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I love old movies like this that assume that by 2021 we would actually be living on the Moon instead of trying to actually convince some people that the Earth isn’t flat. The past had such high hopes for us.

image

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Had it been made about 4-5 years later, I think the dystopian vibe would’ve been a lot stronger.

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Everyone would have been gunned down and the asteroid would have crashed on the Moon’s only kitten orphanage on adoption day. Then we’d zoom out and the baddie’s colorfully haired ladies will have been the mastermind after all.

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Well, at least in that scenario, Carol Cleveland would’ve had more than one line. :wink:

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My grandmother at some point circa 1970 put her name on a travel agency wait list for a tourist trip to the Moon. Some clever agent had come up with the gimmick. If astronauts successfully landed on the Moon, it’ll only be a matter of time before commercial flights start. Come sign up with us and we’ll work to make sure you get first crack at booking a ticket. (While you’re here, we’ll be happy to sell you a more earthly vacation package for this year. And get your contact info on our mailing list…) No one expected that 50 years later space tourism would be limited to billionaires going to the edge of the atmosphere. (Or paying 7 figures to visit a space station in low orbit with no tourist facilities.)

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Zero G Fighting. I always love it when the action in a movie is so silly that all they need to do for the host segment is do their own version of it and act goofy. See also, Trumpy doing magic things and raccoons in the cabin.

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Much stiffer. Psychedelic even. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) sprouts to mind. A brutal primal quality likely would surface

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Really needs a restoration itself.

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@Satoris720.

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Moon Ride Exposition.

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@optiMSTie Your placement of this among early episodes?

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I think with Season One, you saw them going through the growing pains of ironing out the bugs and rough patches, figuring out what worked well and what didn’t, such as that bit of business where Joel covers the singing woman’s mouth for a muted effect as well as the part where they add a urination sound effect over a shot of some guys with their backs to the camera in The Robot Vs. Aztec Mummy.

By the time you got this last stretch of Season One, you saw them take off in those last few episodes with Project Moonbase, Untamed Youth, The Black Scorpion, and this one, Moon Zero Two. (There’s also Women of the Prehistoric Planet, which is technically the last episode of Season 1, but it got shuffled in as the fourth episode, but that’s an entirely unrelated can of worms.)


Anywho, this movie makes for a fun and breezy MST3K experience, because it’s at once imaginative and utterly goofy. There are some nifty aesthetic designs, which still draw the funny ire of the gang (Crow: “In space, no one can art direct!”). There’s also the stuff that doesn’t work so well on an aesthetic level, like the Wild West saloon that Joel likens to “Hee Haw 1999” or the ridiculous outer space travel garb that has Crow quipping: “I’m here for the Gumby wedding!” Not to mention the bad guys’ curiously color-coated astronaut outfits, which amazes Crow into remarking that “they come in great flavors, too!”


To build off of what @amass79 commented earlier, I love Don Ellis’s brassy jazz-inspired music, since I dug what he did for The French Connection. The score also inspires some choice riffing, too, with Joel remarking during a particularly tense sequence: “Shut up that jazz combo, I’m nervous enough as it is!” You’ve got another good one when a space buggy blows up a little after that previous moment, causing Servo to lament that it’s “The day the music died.”


What I also like about this movie is that it’s a Space Western. I do love Westerns, especially when they crop up on MST3K, but we wouldn’t get proper Westerns until Season 5 with the back-to-back hit of The Painted Hills and Gunslinger. But the Western-y elements add some charm and intrigue to the proceedings, and I’m all on board for that. Throw in great riffs on top of that, and it’s a fun ride, like Crow saying with a country twang: “Hey, anybody know where a guy can get some Armor All around here?”


I’m going to say this a lot in Season One discussions, but I’ll say it again: these episode aren’t bad. The riff tempo runs a little slower, the performers are finding their characters, they’re going on a general journey of discovery (which worked out pretty nice for Dr. Erhardt), but the heart of the show is very much intact, and the humor can take you by surprise if you give it the opportunity.

Case in point, the riff of the episode?

Servo: “It’s Moon Zero Mostel!”

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