SATURDAY AFTERNOON B-MOVIE CRAPFEST: "Cat Women of the Moon" (1953)

Republibot 3.0
Republibot 3.0's picture

PLAY BY PLAY

The first rocket to the moon will take a whopping ten hours to get there! Its crewed by four boring men - one of whom is Sonny Tufts - an a woman who has a kind of Betty Davis thing going on in the face, but isn’t really as pretty as the script says she is. But then Sonny Tufts isn’t nearly as handsome as he used to be, either. Perhaps this movie is a heartwarming-yet-sad tale of two middle-aged folks, going to seed, who find a kind of happiness by settling for someone who’ll say “Yes” before the last gasp of their good looks fade?

Nope. Just a movie about Cat Women on the Moon.

As there’s not much of a story here, and as they need to pad this film out to *barely* more than an hour, the ship gets whanged into by a flaming meteor. In space. It’s flaming in space. This is bad! Perhaps the movie is an explorers-versus-a-hostile-environment story, similar to Apollo 13?

Nope. Just a movie about Cat Women on the Moon. They spin the spaceship, and the (now unseen) flaming meteor flies off, about as inconvenient in the grand scheme of things, as the snow on your car roof sliding off when you make a fast turn.

Now, by this point, the woman on the crew - Helen - is acting screwy, yammering about “Alpha” and having strangely specific information about landing sites on the Dark Side of the Moon. Is she a fan of Space: 1999? Is this a thoughtful exploration on the ways men and women cope with the psychological stresses of spaceflight in different ways?

Nope. Well, maybe a little. But primarily this is just a movie about Cat Women on the Moon.

So they land on the Dark Side (Which sounds dirtier than it actually is), suit up in the goofy left-over costumes from an earlier, better space movie, and go out to explore. Three of them have rather awkward fishbowl helmets, the other two have cheap helmets that were obviously cobbled together for this flick, so I guess the costume shop was all out. Helen takes her cigarettes along because she “Doesn’t feel at home without them,” despite the fact that we never see her smoke in the movie. Kip (Victor Jory) takes his gun along, despite knowing there’s no life on the moon. As with Helen, he just doesn’t feel at home without some kind of phallic symbol with which to defend his masculine territorial imperative. Or something. This is a movie with very strong yet unintentional Sapphic tendencies, so I felt the need to say something all lesbionic* like that.

Nobody plants a flag or says any words, or anything. They don’t even call home, because Laird (Sonny Tufts) is so upset about his flagging career that he’s being a jerk to everyone. They just wander around a bit, and do a couple parlor tricks with Helen’s cigarettes, then she leads them to a cave that she claims she saw from the ship, though that’s physically impossible as it’s below their line of sight.

The cave turns out to inexplicably have earth-standard gravity. “Where there’s gravity, there must be air! Even I know that!” says one of the crew. They take off their helmets, and space suits, and stop around in Navy Khakis for a while, then find a Grecian ruin. Or possibly the narthex of a really big Romanesque church. It’s sort of hard to say. Helen disappears.

Cue the titular “Cat Women of the Moon,” which likewise sounds dirtier than it is. In actual fact, they’re just perfectly normal mid-1950s cocktail waitresses in leotards. Nothing really special. One gets the impression that they’re supposed to be sexy - a race of hot, exotic, scantily-clad space-amazon babes - but once again, none of them are really as pretty as the script seems to think they are. They explain that they’re telepathic, and project a small flashlight on her hand, and now she is their thrall, slave to their bidding.

In one big info-dump we’re told that in a fit of bad planning, the Cat Women of the Moon killed all the Cat Men (of the Moon) a couple thousand years ago, and now they’re dying out. I dunno if they’re just really long-lived or if the sperm banks are running on empty, or maybe they only had one Clone-o-Matic to begin with, and now that’s busted, and they can’t get a repairman since they killed all the men. Whatever the cause, they’re down to just eight remaining Cat Women.

These don’t seem to have learned the error of their ways, or perhaps there’s just a really bad sex education system on the moon. (Which, frankly, you’d expect, seeing as there’s no dudes: “So how do I get pregnant?” “You can’t! Ok, class is done. Everyone gets an ‘A.’ Now off to your lingerie modeling class, girls, chop chop!” They inform Helen that they’re going to steal the space ship, head back to earth with three of the Cat Women - and Helen - and once here, they’ll impregnate the girls “Eugenically” and kill all the men folk, thereby ensuring that their she-ra man-hating chicktopia will endure…for another thirty years or so. (“Chicktopia,” by the way, would be a great name for one of those terrible naked-girl bands that play in stripper truckstops. I’m told. But don’t know firsthand.)

Rather than actually, you know, *doing* this, however, the next thirty minutes or so are just endless scenes of the earth men and the moon women putting the moves on each other, and occasionally spastically making out. There’s an entirely-boring love triangle between Kip, Laird, and Helen. Meanwhile, the two also-rans get all moon-eyed over the moon-faced moon-maidens. I’m sorry. One of them gets killed for some reason, it’s all a little vague.

Then, Kip breaks the psychic bond controlling Helen by holding her hand really hard. Really. Laird gets the short end of the stick, romantically speaking. Suddenly she’s better, and a couple of the Cat Girls who’ve decided they like boys (Ahem!) help them escape, and so they do.

The End.

OBSERVATIONS

I’ve noticed a trend: all these really crappy crappy space movies clock in at barely more than an hour. This one was 63 minutes. What the heck? Could they actually *release* movies that short in those days? I guess they must, since I’ve seen marquis for this thing. It’s weird to me to think there may not have been established running times on films in those days. “Coming from 20th Century Fox: a spectacular 37-minute motion picture from the makers of the epic seven-minute film that ran eight times an hour three years ago.”

Bad Science galore: 1) Flaming Meteors in Space. 2) The whole “If there’s water, there must be air, and if there’s air, there must be gravity” thing 3) the Dark Side of the Moon: Ain’t no such thing. There’s nearside and farside, each of which get sunlight at one time or another. 4) The far side of the moon is pretty much like Nevada at night: Kinda’ pretty, sparse vegitation, air, 1-G gravity.

No, seriously, we’re told that the far side of the moon is just like earth in every meaningful way, excepting that it’s always dark. Absolutely no explanation is given as to why nearside is all barren and airless and low-gravity, though, as I’ve pointed out, the writer of this film - Roy Hammilton, better known as a singer - was under the impression that Air creates gravity. Whoever wrote “The Lights of Zetar” episode of TOS seemed to have the same impression. Ah, American Science Education: You make me laugh, so!

This movie is literally awash in all kinds of probably-unintended wonky sexual subtexts. First of all, you’ve got the (allegedly) hot Cat(suited) Women, who hate men, and despise their reliance upon us to procreate. We all know where that one’s leaning. Then we’ve got some latent heterosexuals ‘mongst the Lunar Lesbians who find themselves strangely compelled by the two also-rans from earth. One of these is so desperate for male companionship that she’s even willing to go for an oily middle-aged dude with a pencil mustache! And of course there’s the unintentional hilarity of all the chicks being crazy to get their hands on the rocket - essentially a big tallywhacker - the grandest phallic symbol of them all. And of course their hope is to use this…uhm….thing to thrust through space, plunge to earth, and impregnate it with the seed of their race, which - they clearly articulate - is intended to usurp the role of men.

This is all probably pretty unintentional. I really don’t think anyone thought it through that much. I think the concept behind this movie was “Hey, let’s film some hot(ish) chicks in catsuits! We’ll get to hang around with them for a few days, some of ‘em might let us touch their girly bits, and then we can make a quick buck by selling the whole thing to horny teens!” In fact, this very thing comprises pretty much the entire second act. That said, you just can’t have a monosexual society portrayed without setting off everyone’s homosexual radar.

There’s also some leering “Hubba hubba” shots in which the two also-rans are obviously thinking “acres of chicks! All for me! All for me! I’ll have a harem!” which is kinda’ creepy too, but they quickly rein that one in, whereas the unstated lesbian stuff runs through the whole film. This convinces me they didn’t even really notice it.

Some of the FX and at least one of the sets were from “Project Moonbase,” which was made slightly before this film, but released slightly after it. ( http://www.republibot.com/content/saturday-afternoon-b-movie-crapfest-%E2%80%9Cproject-moonbase%E2%80%9D-1953 ) Some of the backdrops and lunar paintings on the surface are actually pretty.

I love how Helen immediately touches up her makeup after liftoff. There’s also this great scene where someone says “They speak English!” and Helen responds, “Yes, their communication technology is quite superior *of* ours.” It’s not at all funny, but it just cracked me up: “They speak English!” “Yup, sure ‘nuff do! They’s way ahead of is in the talkin’ thing. Also, they smell purty, and they’s got all kinds a’ booklearnin!”

Mr. Pencil Mustache is show to be a greedy man who’ll do anything to make a buck. Early on in the film, he mentions that he’s taken a bunch of stamps into space, and will sell them as collectors’ items when he gets back to earth. In an interesting bit of accidental prognostication, the crew of Apollo 15 did just that ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_15_postage_stamp_incident ) and were severely punished for it.

The whole movie is online here, if you date http://www.archive.org/details/Cat_Women_of_the_Moon

  

*- Yes, I know there’s no such word. I got it from a David Mamet play.

 

Tags: