Director – D.J. Webster
Cast – Robert Sampson, Will Bledsoe, Joe Turkel, Camilla More, John Diehl, Wendy MacDonald, Alan Blumenfeld, Ken Lesco
Release Year – 1990
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I had never once heard of this piece before viewing it, but its title and storyline had me stoked and hoping that I would enjoy this one, and despite a “dated” feel and a few faults I found this flick to give me what I wanted to see. With a heavy sci-fi influence and numerous creative elements blended into a slightly far-fetched but enjoyable story, The Dark Side of the Moon is a positive early 90s flick that I enjoyed and appreciated due to its somewhat rare status.
It is the year 2022 and the maintenance ship SPACECORE is en route to repair nuclear-armed satellites orbiting the Earth. When an unexplainable systems error leaves the ship and its crew stranded on the dark side of the moon, then come across a NASA shuttle what disappeared 30 years prior, and after docking with the shuttle they come face to face with a nightmare centuries in the making.
I love when horror and sci-fi are blended together, especially when it involves space. Alien was absolutely genius in giving us the simple tagline: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” and plays directly into why I enjoy horror films that involve space, because there is simply nowhere for our protagonists to run outside of their vessel. I have seen horror films that involve the moon, but never one that focuses on the dark side of the moon, and I found that simple idea to be a genius and genuinely creepy one. The mechanical failure that hinders the ship and leaves it stranded in the dark side lead the way for the numerous clichés that would come about in this film, but if you go in expecting a cliché watch then those clichés turn into the ones you appreciate, not the ones you cannot get over. When our crew members face the arrival of the NASA space shuttle is when the horror starts to develop, giving us a few chilling scenes when we learn that NASA halted launching shuttles over 30 years prior and when the crew members board the shuttle and find not only a haunting scene but allow the entity aboard the shuttle onto their vessel. While I would have preferred a creature effort regarding the antagonist, we are instead given a supernatural being that slowly picks off each crew member and inhabits their body for its own evil doing. This of course results in much character conflict as they begin fighting with one another over who could be possessed, much like in John Carpenter’s The Thing, which aided the storyline in pacing and keeping things interesting given the entire film takes place on a space vessel/shuttle. If you know me then you know that I love nowhere to run scenarios, and our protagonists being trapped in a vessel out in space definitely counts as such, and makes for some good tension as a result. I loved the idea of the writers, Carey and Chad Hayes, throwing in the usage of the Bermuda Triangle, something that has always interested me but an element that we rarely see in the genre despite it sometimes giving us good results (Triangle). In addition to this, we are also given a Satanic element thrown in, one that I never saw coming and definitely appreciated as it only added to the unique storyline. I have seen numerous films involving Satan in one way or another, but never one that involves him in space, which I found pretty cool and unique in its own right. Simply put, this storyline gives us horror, space, the Bermuda Triangle, and Satan all in one film, and for the most part…the story works. It may be a bit far-fetched to some when we see how the Bermuda Triangle ties into the satanic element and the ill-fated space mission, and downright cheesy in how easy all of this comes together, but as I mentioned earlier: if you know what you are getting yourself into there should be no major problems with the story.
Director D.J. Webster did a mostly-positive job with this one, although that will surely be open to interpretation based on who watches this piece. Fans of campy horror who can appreciate a low-budget effort will find his direction to suffice for such a film, but those looking for a film that does not feel like an amateur effort may not find him as favorable as I did. His atmosphere and sets are great, especially when you consider the film’s low-budget and DTV status. The atmosphere he uses is dark, gloomy, and spooky, which came set up perfectly by the storyline’s usage of mechanical failure to leave the ship with only low reserve lighting for most of the film. His execution of the horror was good, giving us a fair amount of gore and a full-frontal approach to a few awesome kill sequences, however the acting jobs from nearly everyone involved are just below average, but that is to be expected with a film of this nature.
Overall, The Dark Side of the Moon is a fun and cheezy early 90s effort with much 80s zaz still left over from one of horror’s greatest decades. The story blends numerous elements together into one surprisingly cohesive effort that despite being a bit far-fetched still makes for engaging material. The cheese is high and the horror is worthwhile, making for a fun horror/sci-fi flick that I recommend for those who know what they are getting into.