Image Entertainment presents
Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)
"Four of us will be enough. We will get their women under our power and soon we will rule the whole world."- Alpha (Carol Brewster)
Stars: Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory, Marie Windsor
Other Stars: Susan Morrow, Douglas Fowley, Bill Phipps, Carol Brewster, Suzanne Alexander
Director: Arthur Hilton
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence, modern dance)
Run Time: 01h:03m:38s
Release Date: 2001-03-13
DVD ReviewWhile there are bad movies in every genre, if you want a really bad, incredibly bad, so-bad-it's-good, stupefyingly bad movie experience, you have to go to science fiction. Especially 1950s science fiction. Those looking for a laughably godawful movie experience need look no further. Cat-Women of the Moon is now on DVD.
This film has everything necessary to make it a cult favorite, from oversexed female villains to absurdly wrong science, all delivered with a completely straight face. Over a portentous narration about why mankind should be limited in what is possible, we see Moon Rocket 4 (with '63' prominently painted on the side) flying to the moon. Commanding the crew of five is Laird Grainger (Sonny Tufts). The one woman on the trip just happens to be his girlfriend, the navigator Helen Salinger (Marie Windsor). After a few adventures involving being hit by a meteor and a reactor leak which is cured by a fire extinguisher, the party lands (on a whim of the navigator) in a canyon on the dark side of the moon. Helen somehow knows that there is a cave nearby, and the group quickly realizes that within the cave is an atmosphere. Immediately shedding their space suits, the group is first attacked by giant spider puppets, and then captured by the titular Cat-Women, a group of busty starlets in black leotards, all of them made up with widows' peaks and heavy false eyelashes. It seems that they are the remnant of a highly-developed civilization, and have, across the void of space, exercised mental control over Helen in order to lure a rocket to them. With the rocket in hand, the Cat-Women can conquer the world. But first, they must perform a modern dance. Can the astronauts save themselves—and the Earth—from the Cat-Women's nefarious plans? Will the filmmakers run out of money before they get to the ending?
On the positive side, the picture makes good use of Chesley Bonestell's gorgeous moonscape paintings, and a young Elmer Bernstein contributed a fairly good original musical score. But that's about where the possible compliments end.
The special effects are laughably bad, and the science is appallingly stupid. The rocket ship is equipped with ordinary office chairs on rollers; what is supposedly scientific equipment is nonchalantly kicked aside; a cigarette bursts into flames on the airless surface of the moon (simply by crossing from the dark side to the light side!) and the moon on the view screen uneasily wobbles out of view as if the rocket were shooting right past it. The atomic energy safety habits would do Homer Simpson proud. Among the essential equipment for the first moon landing are a revolver and a pack of smokes. The dialogue is full of howlers that sound as if they were written by a scientifically-interested but not very bright six-year-old. Indeed, when Laird asserts that he is still commander, Helen responds like a petulant child, "You're not my commander." Yeah, and you're not the boss of me, either.
While the Cat-Women (why they are so called is never explained) are all uniformly awful, the rest of the cast is surprisingly decent, considering the gut-wrenchingly bad lines that they have to spew out and the ridiculous action. Marie Windsor does a decent job with what is essentially a dual role as the possessed and unpossessed Helen (the control can be broken only by co-pilot Kip Reisner [Victor Jory] taking her hand....don't ask why). Bill Phipps is passable as Doug Smith, the radio operator who falls in love with Lambda (Susan Morrow), one of the Cat-Women, and for a change the comic relief is decent in the person of Douglas Fowley, as Walt Wallace, the greedy engineer of the expedition. This aspect, at least, is superior to Destination Moon.
The picture shows every sign of being shot in five days and running out of money (both of which were true, according to the production notes). The climax happens off-screen and is described in a throwaway piece of dialogue (also delivered offscreen). Even though the movie is full of padding it runs a scant 63-minutes. At this short duration, and without significant extras to speak of, this disc really should have been offered as a double feature with some other cheesy movie; after all, that's how it would have been seen back in 1953.
Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: While a fairly poor quality source print is used, the transfer itself is quite good. Blacks are strong and contrast levels are low, displaying a wide range of greys. Plenty of detail is visible (which is probably not a good thing, except for the Bonestell paintings). Unfortunately, the source print has at least some damage or speckling on nearly every frame. It's not unwatchable, however, and certainly better than this picture is usually seen.
Although originally released in 3-D as part of the early 1950s craze, the presentation here is solely 2-D. A 3-D presentation on a seperate layer should have been possible and might have added a little value to this disc. However, the viewer doesn't seem to be missing out on anything notable in the 2-D presentation.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: The 1.0 mono has a slightly crackled and hissy sound to it. However, it is passable for what it is. Dialogue is clear throughout, and although Elmer Bernstein's score is a little thin sounding, without any significant bass presence, it's tolerable.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues
Extras Review: The only extra on the disc is a scratchy and beat-up trailer for the original 3-D release. The hyperbole is nonetheless enjoyable. Ample production notes are included on the gatefold snapper case, helping elevate the extras grade above the truly miserable.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsAn outrageously and hilariously awful motion picture, given a decent transfer of a messy print. It really should have been a double feature DVD, however. The MST3K-ability factor is extremely high. And if you're reading a review of Cat-Women of the Moon, you're assuredly not looking for High Art anyway, and this movie won't disappoint.
Mark Zimmer 2001-03-18