Escaped convicts Gary (Tommy Cook) and Lon (Gary Clarke) are caught hiding in a rocket by scientist Dirk Green (Michael Whalen), who forces them to pilot the ship to the moon. Dirk, who's secretly a moon being, wants to return to his home satellite. Dirk's partner Steve Dayton (Richard Travis) and his fiance June (Cathy Downs) stowaway on the ship by accident. Will they all make it back safely ?
Richard Travis ... Steve Dayton
Cathy Downs ... June Saxton
K.T. Stevens ... The Lido
Tommy Cook ... Gene Fennell
Nina Bara ... Alpha
Gary Clarke ... Lon
Michael Whalen ... Dirk Green
Laurie Mitchell ... Lambda
Leslie Parrish ... Zema (as Marjorie Hellen)
Henry Hunter ... Col. Wickers
Lee Roberts ... Sheriff Cramer
Sandra Wirth ... Moon Girl
Pat Mowry ... Moon Girl
Tania Velia ... Moon Girl
This is a classic in the "so bad it's good" canon. Almost every aspect of this film is poorly realized, and it thereby has a kind of sub-genre "purity" about it. The special effects are far from acceptable under any other circumstances. Costumes are a camp spectacular, especially those of the Moon Women and their "Lido" with her ludicrous head gear. Monsters consist of the (very slowly) walking rocks and that giant spider with visible wires who got a lot of work in the late 50s as the inhabitant of many caves and planets.
Best of all, though, is the acting. Every cast member, without exception, is inept. Even handsome Gary Clarke, who later showed he had talent, is awful here. But the "Anti-Oscar" surely must go to Cathy Downs for her brilliant portrayal of an Earth woman among Lunar rivals. As they lead her to her doom in the jaws of the giant spider, she cries out: "No! Don't!"
Richard Cunha did not direct many movies but the few he did give us are fantastic. You know right away you are in an alternate universe when you watch this one. Hero Richard Travis pulls back a curtain to give us a look at what is supposed to be a giant rocket way out in the background; but you can tell immediately that it is a wooden model just a few inches away! Oh it just gets better from there! Scientist Michael Whalen blasts off for the Moon with a makeshift crew of 2 escaped JD's (Gary Clarke of HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER fame and Tommy Cook of no particular fame at all). Mr. Travis and girlfriend Cathy Downs (former fiancée of THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN) go aboard just before blastoff and are unable to get off in time . . . does that mean they were shanghaied? Amazingly the extra weight does not affect fuel or oxygen consumption and apart from the obligatory meteor shower they reach the Moon with no problem. Remember to keep repeating "It's only a movie, only a movie, only a movie . . ."
This is not the Moon of DESTINATION MOON, oh no! This Moon is inhabited by walking rocks that look like Gumby on steroids, a giant spider that looks like a puppet (well okay it IS a puppet but it's a darn mean looking puppet!) and a civilisation of beautiful women. They have a distinct problem though, they are running out of oxygen and must take off for another planet soon or else! They want the Earth people to show them how to build a rocket to carry them to safety. Meanwhile moon girl Alpha (Nina Bara) takes one look at Travis and decides she must have him for a mate and her unrequited love is more important than the survival of her own race. Talk about self absorbed!
Is it art? No. Is it fun? You bet! The puppet spider had already been seen in the 3-D film CAT WOMEN OF THE MOON but Mr. Cunha's film is much more fun. The rock men are surprisingly good and the Moon girls are fabulous. Look closely for Leslie Parrish (Daisy Mae of L'IL ABNER fame) and Lisa Simone who would go on to meet THE GIANT GILA MONSTER among the lunar beauties.
Amazing some TV prints cut the scenes of the spider claiming a victim and the climactic shot that shows why you should not go out in the sun while visiting the moon. Some DVD prints of this now Public Domain title offer the film uncut. Notice I said some, not all!
This is almost a perfect film of its type: the 50's lower-than-low-budget science fiction yarn. More specifically, the one about traveling to another planet and finding the underground civilization of beauty pageant winners in showgirl costumes and high heels. And a silly rubber spider puppet monster. And living rock creatures that look like Gumby.
This is one hilariously incompetent slab of celluloid, meant for the bottom half of the bill at the local Drive-In, custom made for the local teenagers to ignore while furiously making out in the capacious back seat of Dad's '58 Oldsmobile. Almost as funny as Plan Nine From Outer Space! If Ed Wood Jr. had made a film about a trip to the moon, it would be very close to this, except all the women on the moon would be wearing angora sweaters. No, sorry, SPACE angora sweaters.
I won't get into all the plot holes, bad (over)acting and cheesy special effects. The black and white cinematography is actually pretty darn good for something with this tiny of a budget, so kudos to the DP. Can't give the same to the director, writers, or any of the actors though.
Very sad that Mystery Science Theater 3000 never had the chance to cover this film, nor the other films that went toward inspiring Amazon Women on the Moon, namely Cat Women on the Moon and Queen of Outer Space. Though MST3K did tackle Project Moonbase, Moon Zero and Rocketship X-M early on. They also did Phantom Planet in one of the later seasons, which has some similarities with this turkey.
Anyway, this is quite an enjoyable trip to 50's Drive-In land, a magical place in a magical time nobody will ever recapture. Thank goodness.