Escaped convicts hide in a rocket and wind up on the moon, where they find an all female society ruled by a sadistic queen.
“Lunar She-Devils Lure Earthmen Into Their Lair of Doom!”
“A Giant Fiendish Creature!”
Watching Missile to the Moon (1958) last week, I was reminded that I recently said that Abbott and Costello Go To Mars (1953) is one of my favourite movies about alien women. I saw it on TV multiple times when I was a kid, and even though it doesn’t share the same stellar reputation, I loved it as much as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). I know that’s probably sacrilege, but I can’t help it. The movie spoke to me somehow.
Years later, I found myself writing and composing crazy, campy musicals and touring them across the country. They tended to be satires of my favourite film genres. The first one was called Bad Girls Jailhouse, and it was a musical spoof of women-in-prison films. The most successful one was Sorority Girls Slumber Party Massacre: The Musical, which was a loving tribute to golden age slasher films. Both of those plays were produced multiple times to great success, and I noticed that there were a number of people who would come out to see them every time. Fans, I suppose some would call them.
Among those fans, there was a group of older (at least older than me) professional men – doctors, I think. And they would always come up and talk to me and other members of the cast after the shows. They were friendly and supportive; they loved musicals and campy humour; and they happened to be openly gay. One day they said to me, “We have big plans for you. We know what your next show should be.”
“Oh?” I said, wondering what they could possibly say that I hadn’t already thought of…
“You know those old campy science fiction films about men going to another planet and discovering an all female society?”
“Yes, I do!” I said, my eyes probably lighting up with excitement.
“You need to do a musical version of those!”
Oh my god! Those guys were so right! I remembered watching Abbott and Costello Go To Mars (1953) over and over again as a kjd. I also remembered a couple of other films like Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956) – as well as the brilliant SCTV sketch 2009, Jupiter and Beyond (1984). In some ways, SCTV had already satirized the genre so perfectly, that there wasn’t much point in me even trying. However, the idea of turning those movies into a MUSICAL was irresistible to me. I vowed to do it one day…
But somehow I never did. Just like my much talked about biker musical that never happened, my Abbott and Costello Go To Mars musical is still just another piece of unfinished business, floating around in lost play limbo. Looking back on it, I can’t help but feel like I let those guys down. My fans. A very small but dedicated club. I wonder where they are now? They probably died of old age waiting for me to write that show…
The good news is that Missile to the Moon (1958) is another movie that fits into that curious and antiquated genre. The men-going-to-another-planet-and-discovering-an-all-female-society genre. It seems like there should be better name for it. I’ll have to think on that a while…
Missile to the Moon (1958) is about a couple of escaped convicts who hide out in a rocket ship – and are forced (or coerced) into piloting the ship to the moon by a scientist who isn’t quite who he appears to be. Along for the ride, are the scientist’s research partner and his fiancé, who board the ship to see what’s going on and are knocked unconscious when the ship suddenly blasts off.
Or something like that.
Trust me when I say that Missile to the Moon is a camp classic. It delivers all the goods that one would hope to see in a men-going-to-another-planet-and-discovering-an-all-female-society movie (I do need to work on that name…). This includes some pretty awesome costumes worn by the moon women (who look an awful lot like beauty contest winners from the planet Earth). There’s even a giant spider, for those of us who expect to see giant mutant bugs in a science fiction movie from 1958.
Director Richard E. Cunha only made six movies in his brief film career – and I think I’ve reviewed four of them for this blog. There’s Giant from the Unknown (1958), She Demons (1958), Frankenstein’s Daughter (1958), and now Missile to the Moon. I swear I had no idea when I picked out last week’s movie. I have not been deliberately trying to see all of Cunha’s movies. It just happened. But now I fee like I have to complete the collection. All I’ve got left is Girl in Room 13 (1960) and Dog eat Dog! (1964). I wonder how hard they will be to find…
Missile to the Moon (1958) is the best kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema. If I had seen it years ago, I’m sure it would have inspired me. And if I ever do write that men-going-to-another-planet-and-discovering-an-all-female-society musical, it will definitely be a major influence. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be revisiting it in the future, probably more than once, on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.
— Angus Kohm (@AngusKohm) December 30, 2023