Sunday November 27, 2022

10 Spectacularly Silly Depictions of the Moon in Sci-Fi Movies10 Spectacularly Silly Moon Depictions in Sci-Fi Movies

The moon looms over Los Angeles in a scene from Moonfall.Image: Lionsgate

With master of disaster Roland Emmerich’s Moonfallarriving Febuary 4, we’ve got the moon on the brain. Not the semi-plausible or at least seriously considered depictions seen in movies like Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Ad Astra, but the full-on goofy treatments that put the “fiction” in “science fiction.” In other words: who’s hungry for cheese?

Moonfall definitely offers the most prominent placement of the Earth’s satellite in one of Roland Emmerich’s disaster epics. But it also factored into his 2016 Independence Day sequel, housing a strategic base designed to help prevent, y’know, the events of the first film from happening again. Thanks to the alien technology left behind by the would-be invaders in 1996, it’s no biggie for humans pop on up to the moon when the need arises—but when a wormhole near the moon serves as the entry point for the aliens’ inevitable return, Resurgence gets to recreate ID4‘s ominous giant shadow, this time creeping across the lunar surface rather than soon-to-be-obliterated cityscapes.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (made by that other master of disaster, Michael Bay), introduces a brand-new moon conspiracy theory, which asserts that while the 1969 moon landing was real, its true purpose was to investigate a crash-landed Cybertronian spaceship. The remains of that spaceship cause all manner of shenanigans in the ongoing war between the Decepticons and Autobots, though most puny humans with any knowledge of the situation are murdered before they can get the word out. That’s what passes for set-up here; the rest of the movie is basically just giant robot fights.

A movie so, uh, memorable it advanced to the Elite Eight in io9’s 2012 March Movie Madness bracket determining the worst science fiction movie ever made, 2002 sci-fi “comedy” The Adventures of Pluto Nash stars Eddie Murphy as both the title character and his evil clone, who clash over the ownership of a nightclub located in the bustling, organized-crime-plagued moon colony of Little America. In a 2012 interview with our pals over at the A.V. Club, co-star Joe Pantoliano reflected thusly on the notorious bomb: “You usually can’t tell when a movie is going to be shit, but on that one you could.”

One of the very first sci-fi movies—complete with the most dazzling special effects 1902 could offer—this short, silent delight from writer-director-star Georges Méliès follows a group of astronauts as they take a fanciful trip to the moon, where the local population is none too welcoming. Watching it is like seeing a work of collage art come to life. A Trip to the Moon also features one of the most iconic shots in early cinema, of the astronauts’ rocket plunging right into the eyeball of the (understandably perturbed!) man in the moon.

The “moon” part of this 1999 comedy sequel mostly concerns Dr. Evil (Mike Meyers), who—along with the movie’s real star, Mini-Me (Verne Troyer)—ups the ante on his quest for world domination by setting up a moon base equipped with a giant laser pointed at Earth. The Austin Powers series may not have aged particularly well, but as far as Bond-movie-parody-villains go, “giant laser pointed at the Earth” remains a rather effective bargaining chip.

Image: Astor Pictures

Despite what that luridly colored DVD cover might have you believe, 1953’s Cat-Women of the Moon is actually a black-and-white movie, though it was originally released in 3D. The plot is about what you’d expect: astronauts (including, gasp, a woman!) travel to the moon, where they’re shocked to encounter a population of glamorous, leotard-clad, vaguely feline beauties. The Cat-Women have determined that Earth is a more sustainable home than the moon, and set about trying to steal the spaceship using their powers of seduction (cue the slinky modern dance number) and telepathic mind control. Cat-Women of the Moon was remade just a few years later as 1958’s Missile to the Moon, which changes the plot a tad (adding in some younger characters, including a pair of tough-talking stowaways) but replicates certain elements—there’s yet another slinky modern-dance number, this time with more elaborate costumes. It even recycles the same props that brought the first film’s giant B-movie spider monsters (aack!) to life.

The leader of the Moonmen. Tremble before him!Screenshot: Nike Cinematografica/Comptoir Francais de Productions Cinematographiques

MST3K got its mitts on this 1964 Franco-Italian co-production, which (along with that screamer of a title) should give you a good idea of what kind of a Z-grade flick we’re talking about here. It actually takes place in ancient Greece, so we’re kind of cheating by including it on a list of depictions of the moon, but it does concern an invading force of sinister moon-people who’re hellbent on resurrecting their queen using the blood of human children, at least until they run up against a certain beefy hero played by bodybuilder turned sword-and-sandal star Alan Steel.

This 2012 Finnish movie imagines that surviving Nazis fled to the moon after their defeat in World War II, biding their time and building weaponized UFOs before returning to Earth 70 years to try their hand at conquering the planet once again. Despite the presence of legendary actor Udo Kier, Iron Sky doesn’t quite achieve its cult-classic aspirations. But hey, if the world must have a “Nazis on the moon” movie—well, it might as well be this one.

This campy 1964 H.G. Wells adaptation sets about trying to explain why the supposed first group of lunar explorers reaches its crater-filled surface only to find… a British flag and a claim that the moon is ruled by Queen Victoria. Cue the flashback to 1899! While the space mission takes a bit to lift off, when it finally does, we get a jolly tale of a man, his fiancée, and his nutty scientist neighbor journeying to a moon filled with incredible Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animated monsters, which quite obviously makes the waiting worthwhile.

Image: Criterion Channel

In 1961, sexploitation filmmaker Doris Wishman posed a question to the world: “what if there was a nudist colony… on the moon?” Follow-up questions: “What if the moon looked… a lot like Florida?” And “What if all this had… a theme song entitled ‘I’m Mooning Over You (My Little Moon Doll)’?” The fact that you can catch this one, which Wishman co-directed with Raymond Phelan, on the Criterion Channel actually says a lot about its singular cinematic legacy.

Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.

Image: Lionsgate. In a scene from Moonfall, the moon hovers above Los Angeles. We’re not talking about the plausible or at least considered depictions found in movies like Moon, 2001, A Space Odyssey or Ad Astra. These are the goofy, absurd treatments that put “science fiction” in science fiction.
[Embedded content] Moonfall is without doubt the film with the most prominent location of the Earth’s satellite in one Roland Emmerich’s disaster epics. It was also used in his 2016 Independence Day sequel. It houses a strategic base that helps to prevent the same fateful events from happening again. Thanks to the alien technology left behind by the would-be invaders in 1996, it’s no biggie for humans pop on up to the moon when the need arises–but when a wormhole near the moon serves as the entry point for the aliens’ inevitable return, Resurgence gets to recreate ID4’s ominous giant shadow, this time creeping across the lunar surface rather than soon-to-be-obliterated cityscapes. [embedded material] Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a film by Michael Bay, introduces a new conspiracy theory about the moon. It claims that the 1969 moon landing was true, but that its real purpose was to investigate a Cybertronian spaceship that had crashed into Earth. The Decepticons and Autobots are engaged in a war over the remains of the spaceship, which has sparked all manner of shenanigans. However, most people who have any knowledge of the situation are killed before they can spread the word. This is what we call set-up. The rest of the movie is essentially robot fights. [embedded content] A movie so, uh, memorable it advanced to the Elite Eight in io9’s 2012 March Movie Madness bracket determining the worst science fiction movie ever made, 2002 sci-fi “comedy” The Adventures of Pluto Nash stars Eddie Murphy as both the title character and his evil clone, who clash over the ownership of a nightclub located in the bustling, organized-crime-plagued moon colony of Little America. Interview with our friends at the A.V. In a 2012 interview with our friends at the A.V., Joe Pantoliano said that Club’s co-star was Joe Pantoliano. It’s like watching a piece of collage art come alive. A Trip to the Moon also features the iconic shot of the astronauts’ rocket plunging into the eyeball (understandably disturbed!) Man on the moon. [embedded material] Dr. Evil (Mike Meyers) is the main character in this 1999 comedy sequel. He sets up a moon base with a giant laser pointed towards Earth, and he’s joined by Mini-Me (Verne Troyer), in his quest for world dominance. The Austin Powers series may not have aged particularly well, but as far as Bond-movie-parody-villains go, “giant laser pointed at the Earth” remains a rather effective bargaining chip. Image: Astor Pictures 1953’s Cat-Women of the Moon, despite the luridly colored DVD covers, is actually a black-and-white movie. It was originally released in 3D. The plot follows the usual pattern: astronauts (including a woman!) are sent to the moon. They travel to the moon and are shocked to find a group of leotard-clad, vaguely feline beauty. The Cat-Women decided that Earth was a more sustainable home than the Moon and tried to steal the spaceship using their powers for seduction (cue the slinky modern dance number and telepathic control). The 1958 film Missile to the Moon was based on Cat-Women of the Moon. It changed the plot slightly (incorporating a couple of younger characters and a pair of tough-talking stowaways), but it still replicates some elements. There’s also another slinky modern dance number with more elaborate costumes. It even reuses the props that brought back the giant B-movie spidermonsters (again!). to life. The leader of the Moonmen. Tremble before him!Screenshot: Nike Cinematografica/Comptoir Francais de Productions Cinematographiques MST3K got its mitts on this 1964 Franco-Italian co-production, which (along with that screamer of a title) should give you a good idea of what kind of a Z-grade flick we’re talking about here. It actually takes place in ancient Greece so we are cheating by including it in a list of moon depictions. However, it does feature an invading force if sinister moon-people who are determined on resurrecting the queen using blood from human children. Until they meet a certain beefy hero played in the role of Alan Steel, a bodybuilder turned sword and sandal star.

[embedded material] A 2012 Finnish movie depicts how surviving Nazis fled to Mars after World War II. They then spent 70 years building weaponized UFOs and returned to Earth to conquer the planet again. Iron Sky fails to live up to its cult-classic ambitions despite the presence of Udo Kier. It’s a shame, though, that the world needs a movie about Nazis on the Moon. [embedded material] This 1964 H.G. Wells’ adaptation attempts to explain why the first group of lunar explorers reached its crater-filled surface to find… a British flag, and a claim that Queen Victoria rules the moon. The flashback to 1899 is here! It takes a while for the space mission to take off but when it does, we get a fun tale about a man and his fiancee who travel to a moon full of amazing Ray Harryhausen stop motion animated monsters. Image: Criterion Channel. In 1961, Doris Wishman, a sexy filmmaker, asked the world the following questions: “What If there was a nudist colony…on the moon?” And “What about if all this had…a theme song called “I’m Mooning over You (My Little Moon Doll ).” This is a great example of the unique cinematic legacy of the Criterion Channel.

Are you curious about where our RSS feed went. The new one can be found here.

Back to Top
%d bloggers like this: