I don't know why The Dark Side of the Moon is still sitting out there without a DVD release when so many putrid films have already crossed over the digital divide. This undeservedly obscure science fiction B-movie from 1990 packs quite a punch and comes with a plotline that defies the conventions of the drama. Oh, certainly, there are similarities with Alien and other movies, but this film establishes a solid identity all its own. And while the film may not excel in any specific area, the sum of all its parts yields an interesting and quite enjoyable cinematic experience.
I love how the film begins by pointing out the fact that flying up in space to maintenance nuclear-armed satellites is considered to be dangerous work. Gee, d'ya think? The crew of the space refab ship Spacecore One knows this already, but this time around they never even make it to the satellite's location. On the way there, their ship suddenly loses all power. The ship's computer (who happens to be a reasonably hot, long-legged blonde) says all systems are functioning normally despite pretty convincing evidence to the contrary. Unable to signal for help, it looks like the only real question is whether their air supply will run out before the ship crashes into the dark side of the moon. Then, lo and behold, a ship appears in the distance - and not just any ship, mind you. It's the space shuttle Discovery. Strangely, though, the ship doesn't respond to communications requests, even after docking successfully with the Spacecore, so crew leaders Flynn (Robert Sampson) and Giles (Will Bledsoe) head across and find what amounts to a ghost ship that has somehow taken on significant water damage. They also find a dead crew member. As the resident doctor attempts to find out what killed the man, we learn that the Discovery crashed off the Atlantic Coast decades earlier - so what the heck is it doing floating around on the dark side of the moon?
Obviously, something is very wrong here. Already racing against time to repair their crippled ship, crew members suddenly find themselves in an even more desperate fight for survival onboard the Spacecore - against an unknown enemy. Already something of a volatile group, mutual suspicion and paranoia mount as individual crew members are killed. Even though we viewers are given a sense of what is really going on here fairly early on, even we don't always know the identity the evil is hiding behind - and that makes for added suspense as the movie heads down the home stretch.
You won't find any A-list actors here; the special effects are average in quality; the storyline leaves a few plot holes hanging; and the premise of the film is pretty far-fetched - yet there is just something about The Dark Side of the Moon (perhaps its group dynamics) that is satisfying if not impressive. I can see where it might even induce a moment or two of disquiet in the minds of certain viewers. All in all, I have to say that this is a little gem in the basket of neglected science fiction films - and it most definitely deserves a DVD release.