Five astronauts travel to the dark side of the moon on a scientific expedition. There they discover a cave which somehow retains a breathable atmosphere. They remove their space suits and venture on, soon finding a buried city where the last members of a 2 million year old civilization greet them with food and drink. Little do they know that these eight lovely leotard-clad women are planning to steal their ship.
Sonny Tufts ... Laird Grainger
Victor Jory ... Kip Reissner
Marie Windsor ... Helen Salinger
William Phipps ... Douglas 'Doug' Smith
Douglas Fowley ... Walter 'Walt' Walters
Carol Brewster ... Alpha
Susan Morrow ... Lambda
Suzanne Alexander ... Beta
Bette Arlen ... Cat-Woman (as Betty Arlen)
Roxann Delman ... Cat-Woman
Ellye Marshall ... Cat-Woman
Judy Walsh ... Cat-Woman
This is one of the best. So-bad-it's-great! A cast of stars (including Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory and the delicious Marie Windsor) land on the far side of the moon and discover a race of beautiful women (there not cats, that's just the title.) Oh, yeah, and some giant spiders, too. But enough of that. Any film that has Ms. Windsor in 3-D has got to be tops on any bad sci-fi list.
This is probably the first film of it's kind. No, not camp, but the plot of "male astronauts go to extraterrestrial planet and discover race of sex-starved women dying for company". Invasion of the Star Creatures, Fire Maidens from Outer Space, and Queen of Outer Space all follow in its footprints. There was even a direct remake, Missile to the Moon!
All in all, if you liked Robot Monster, chances are you'll be gaping at your television screen for the next 64 minutes (another great thing about these films - they're extremely short if you don't like them. But if you didn't, you probably wouldn't be reading this.)
This film was originally released in full stereoscopic format in 1953, and a regular B/W print was released later under the title "Rocket to the Moon". The film is of historic interest as it was one of the first (perhaps the first) of many Sci-Fi movies about space travellers who encounter a "lost" civilization of nubile young women, not only in attractive dresses and perfect coiffures but also speaking perfect English. This theme was so successful that it has been repeatedly followed right up to today when everyone has a much more sophisticated understanding of the realities of space. Historically, it is interesting to compare this film with those of the same genre released more recently such as Femalien or the Emmanuelle in Space series. Over the two generations since Rocket to the Moon was released, films of this genre have gradually changed their intended appeal by becoming primarily skinflicks rather than Sci-Fi thrillers.
It is unfortunate that Hollywood quickly lost interest in the complexity of producing good stereoscopic films (which are most often now featured in specialist theatres such as the IMAX), and instead has followed what I feel has been a largely disasterous attempt to explore the potential of anthropomorphic lenses even though in the majority of cases these have no conceivable artistic contribution to make to the final product. Although produced for polarised projection, Catwomen of the Moon is one of the very few 3D films which has been made available on VHS tape in analglyphic (dual colour) stereographic format. It has also been released as a DVD, but in non-stereographic format. Whilst the analglyphic tape version will remain of interest to a most people interested in the history of the cinema, I find it very hard to understand the choice of this film for release as a regular DVD.
This film was not produced on such a low budget as some of its successors. The view of the rocket itself gives the impression that at a pinch this might be large enough for a small monkey, but for its period it makes a serious attempt to show the need for features such as spacesuits for the crew of the rocket. After their rocket lands on the dark side of the moon the astronauts find a deep cavern where air still exists and where these suits can be dispensed with. Scientific improbability returns when they travel back to the surface wearing casual sports clothes and encounter a fairly normal gravitational pull. More surprisingly (?), the cavern is occupied by giant spiders and a group of nubile catwomen who are threatened with extinction, not by the complete absence of any men but by the gradual loss of their air. Logically they therefore plan to steal the rocket and return to Earth in it. The whole plot is worked out in just over an hour (64 min) of quite easy watching; however the story (plot?) does not have the charm shown by the film Fire Maidens of Outer Space which appeared three years later. This is unfortunately not currently available in any home video format, although in my opinion it provides a more enjoyable example of movie nostalgia than the Catwomen.
This movie is really hard to rate. As a "Film", it is a two at best. As Fun, it rates right up there with some of the classic and much more earnest sci-fi flix of the fifties.
Even my ten year old son laughed at the science mistakes in the movie, but he liked it despite (or because of) them. The idea that "spacemen" (and a spacewoman, the always interesting Marie Windsor)would bring Cigarettes with them to the moon is wacky - but not as wacky as the fact that, to show the temperature difference between a shaded spot of the moon's surface and a spot in the sun, one of the heroes throws one of the cancer sticks into a sunny spot where it instantly bursts into flame. (For a more complete list of the goofs in this movie, I suggest you see Bill Warren's book: Keep Watching The Skies).
I enjoyed it thoroughly, and have seen it many times. Watching Sonny Tufts try to act is worth the price of admission. Victor Jory is also fun to watch trying to act as if this was a good movie, and he struggles earnestly against the script and the premise.
# The control cabin of the rocket and two of the space suits are recycled from Project Moon Base (1953).
# William Phipps told interviewer Tom Weaver, "When I saw that spaceship set, I thought I was workin' for Soupy Sales! And that giant spider! They held it up with big ropes above us on the cave set and dropped it down on our heads. At the time, I thought it was the most outrageous, absurd thing in the world - how did spiders get on the Moon?! It was all just incredible
* I thought, 'How can anybody put this in a movie? It's gonna ruin it!'"