Black Moon Rising has it all – Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton (with a perm), Robert Vaughn, Officer Hightower from the Police Academy movies (aka Bubba Smith), a story from John Carpenter (who co-wrote the screenplay) and a score by Mission Impossible‘s Lalo Schifrin.
Tommy Lee Jones still looks cool AF, while security guards use Uzi 9mm rifles within their own office! (that’s going to need a paint job!)
Why did I not know about this film in my life before now? It has a Knight Rider-style supercar, with a bulletproof exterior and which runs off tap water, which is much more environmentally friendly than, say, flying all around the world like David Attenborough…
Sam has stolen a computer disc (tape-sized) and tucked it inside the back of said supercar… which then gets stolen by Nina, who works for big bad guy Robert Vaughn, and it’s holed up along with tons of other cars in an impenetrable skyscraper. So, easy to break into, right? Nah….
So as alighted to in the billing for this film, he figures the answer is to break into her knickers by seducing her, whilst also hooking up with some undesirable individuals in order to secure the vehicle. The problem is, the longer it goes on, you stop seeing the car itself and it’s mostly a romance between him and her.
Plot-wise, it’s a story you’ve seen zillions of times. If you love it, then you’ll be well-served with this print. Yes, there’s the usual slight hazy look onscreen, as with a ton of other Arrow releases, and the original print looks a bit iffy during the opening credits, but that does happen with a number of movies shot on film, back in the day. However, it looks as crisp and clear as it could be, and any issues will be (a) something only geeks like me will really spot, and (b) nothing Arrow could’ve changed.
The theatrical ratio on IMDB is listed as 1.85:1. Here, it’s slightly less wide at a standard TV ratio of 16:9 (1.78:1). I don’t know whether it’s been opened up or… cropped? Given Arrow’s pedigree, I’m assuming opened up.
There’s a great stack of extras which are as follows, and which took me a while to work through:
- Black Moon Ascending (33:48): A new interview with director Harley Cokeliss, made as a standard Q&A with the “Q” as a caption and the “A” with the person featured talking to someone off-camera.
Here, he talks about his career including early years at the BBC, making the science programme Horizon, and ATV (an ITV region); directing Ray Winstone’s first movie, That Summer; the sad death of John Barry in 1979 at the age of just 44 – not the composer, but the Second Unit Director on The Empire Strikes Back, which led to Harley taking the role instead; chat about how some things could’ve gone a bit differently, but he never goes into any specific detail about what changed; and how difficult it was to drive the car, since it’s so low down.
There’s only two chapters to break this up, though. The interview is broken up into a few sections, so they should at least have been that many.
- Thief In The Night (14:27): Producer Douglas Curtis was brought onto this after his work on The Philadelphia Experiment, and really impressing Bob Raimi. He talks about a number of scenes in the film including doing the jump between two buildings in mid-air with a miniature car.
- Sound of Speed (7:53): Another new interview, this time about the music, and with composer Lalo Schifrin and film music historian Daniel Schweiger, showing how Lalo’s talent punctuated many scenes.
- Carpenter’s Craft (17:43): a new video essay on co-writer John Carpenter’s up-and-down screenwriting career by author and critic Troy Howarth, including how he nearly made a ’70s movie, Blood River, with John Wayne after it caught the actor’s interest. It later became a TV movie with Wilford Brimley in the lead role.
It’s interesting that he was even in line to direct Fatal Attraction and Top Gun.
- Making Of Black Moon Rising (11:41): All of the above are new interviews, but this is the first archival piece, and it’s great to see an interview clip with Tommy Lee Jones. It’s also interesting to see that like the car in this film, cars of that era were being made to run on hydrogen. Such vehicles output only water as a by-product. If you want one thing that would benefit us all and the environment, that is it… but then it wouldn’t get lots of petrol tax revenue for the governments, would it? And that’s why they block it.
- Alternative Hong Kong version scenes (12:12): Some scenes with an alternate score and special effects. Certainly worth a watch, but Lalo’s is better.
- Alternative work print opening sequence (4:25): Textless opening credits, with an alternative title card taken from Harley Cokeliss’ personal VHS copy of the work print. Now THIS is the kind of extra which is absolutely golden, as you’ll never see this ANYWHERE ELSE!
- Trailers, TV and Radio Spots: 2 Theatrical trailers and a teaser (4:33), 5 TV spots (2:41) and a Radio spot (0:31).
- b: Tons of images at around one every 10 seconds: Production stills (1:40), Behind the scenes (10:20), Posters and home video (2:00), Lobby cards (1:40), Storyboards (16:51), Annotated script (18:11).
- Audio commentary: from Lee Gambin, author of Show Me: The Making of Christine.
I just watched this on a review disc, but the first pressing of the boxed version contains a fully-illustrated collector’s booklet with new writing on the film by Kieran Fisher, and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love.
The menu features a piece of the theme mixed with clips from the film, there are subtitles in English and the bog-standard 12 chapters.
Black Moon Rising is out now on Blu-ray.
Running time: 100 minutes
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: April 15th 2019
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
Widescreen: 1.78:1 (16:9)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Harley Cokeliss
Producers: Douglas Curtis, Joel B Michaels
Screenplay: John Carpenter, Desmond Nakano, William Gray
Story: John Carpenter
Music: Lalo Schifrin
Sam Quint: Tommy Lee Jones
Nina: Linda Hamilton
Ed Ryland: Robert Vaughn
Earl Windom: Richard Jaeckel
Marvin Ringer: Lee Ving
Johnson: Bubba Smith
Billy Lyons: Dan Shor
Tyke Thayden: William Sanderson
Iron John: Keenan Wynn
Luis: Nick Cassavetes
Dr. Melato: Richard Angarola
Emile French: Don Keith Opper
Reynoso: William Marquez
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.