The Dark Side of the Moon (1990) Blu-ray Review


Save the Prayers

Maybe Astronaut Moon Zombies in the Bermuda Triangle didn’t have the same kick as Dark Side of the Moon. That, or Dark Side of the Moon is radically different sci-fi, played without the kitsch in spite of the concept.

In execution, this is dark and sinister within a hodgepodge of then popular sci-fi. Isolation aboard a space mission recalls Alien, as does an AI computer and the set design – and Dark Side of the Moon came in with a little over one million in budget expenditures.

For direct-to-VHS video store filler, there’s an earnestness to do something unique. Part of it falls to budget constraints possibly (don’t expect monsters, just people with yellow contacts) but the religious slant outweighs the wonky conspiracy theorizing. A routine mission in 2022 goes awry after flying toward the Bermuda Triangle – it extends to the moon, you see – and bringing aboard a demonic presence.

… undone by a well timed nuke, because in Cold War America, of course the ultimate evil is susceptible to military might

Cue darkness, flickering emergency lights, and panic with a little of The Thing’s Cold War distrust. In the moon’s orbit, a stray satellite equipped with nukes, in case the Cold War connection wasn’t clear enough. While never frantic in pacing, there’s enough mystique to build tension. Patches of gore and miniature effects add some visual oomph until things turn to pure horror.

It’s a Biblical nightmare with Satan possessing the crew and manipulating them into sin. Here, sex is a perverse tool. Hatred is amplified. Murder is plentiful. Cue a checklist of the Ten Commandments; this crew is aiming to break all of them.

Dark Side of the Moon takes a while to get into the best philosophizing, concluding with two astronauts, one consumed by evil, battling over what to believe. That’s sharply written thematic material. Then it’s all undone by a well timed nuke, because in Cold War America, of course the ultimate evil is susceptible to military might.

Lesser films of this ilk (notably the saturated late ‘80s, early ‘90s rental market) use aliens or creatures. There’s no slyness in their knock-offs. Dark Side of the Moon is at least interested in theorizing about places man isn’t meant to go, and surprise with Christian allegory in science-based thriller. Dark Side of the Moon dusts off the early post-production code films that so often countered progress with morality. Here, everyone is so corrupt for thinking space is viable for mankind, Lucifer himself hops onboard. Clever, if not always enthralling.

Video

From MVD’s new line called Unearthed Classics, Dark Side of the Moon receives a new 4K master. It’s gorgeous. Allow for a little dirt on the print and this is outright perfect. Masterful grain reproduction keeps things consistent and clear. No compression issues here.

Vivid detail strikes from a resolutely sharp transfer. Facial definition benefits from the source lighting schemes, yet is brought out here tenfold. Definition reaches extreme levels. Even picking out details in the sets, from rust to dirt, is possible. Visual effects naturally soften in comparison, although aside from deep shadows, finding detail in model work isn’t hard.

Dark Side of the Moon is loaded with crushing shadows. That’s by design. Scenes of Satan manipulating people take on a one-sided lighting approach, getting pure black on part of the frame. With the focused contrast, depth looks better than such a budget usually suggests. In space, effects hide in similar crush, but again, that’s not this transfer’s fault.

Warm flesh tones pair with cold steel, making up the ship interiors. Saturation works where allowed with a pleasing output.

Audio

While there’s no explanation, a vintage audio track is included. Best guess is this unrestored. Some audible scratchiness in the dialog indicates such.

The preferred mix is the modern PCM selection (note both tracks come in PCM form). While bright and a jump in volume, superior clarity marries to stronger sonic fidelity. Stereo work draws some questions with a distractedly minor split between channels. Dialog tends to run off without definitive direction, as if the split is held back.

Extras

A trio of Skype interviews includes actor Alan Blumfeld (40 minutes), make-up artist R. Christopher Briggs (35 minutes) and stuntman Chuck Borden (21 minutes). Each provides a fun conversation with stories from the set. A nifty budget breakdown shows where the money went, and a stills gallery follows. Still available in the audio menu is a commentary track from producer Paul White and Unearthed Films’ co-founder Stephen Biro.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Dark Side of the Moon
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Combining derivative space-faring sci-fi with religious parable, The Dark Side of the Moon is unique enough to overcome its low budget origins.

Sending
User Review
0 (0 votes)

The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 20 Dark Side of the Moon screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 30,000+ already in our library), 75+ exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.