Film (1958). Astor. Directed by Richard E Cunha, starring Michael Whalen, Richard Travis, Cathy Downs, Tommy Cook, Gary Clarke, K T Stevens, Nina Bara. Written by H E Barrie and Vincent Fotre. 78 minutes. Black and white.
In this loose remake of Cat-Women of the Moon (1953; vt Rocket to the Moon), members of the dying lunar race send one of their few remaining males, Scientist Dirk Green (Whalen), to Earth, so he can gather information to assist in their planned invasion. To get back to the Moon, he builds his own Spaceship with the help of colleague Steve Dayton (Travis), and when government officials are about to take over the project, he decides to blast off immediately, taking advantage of a fortuitous situation – he discovers two escaped convicts (Cook, Clarke) hiding in the ship and recruits them to serve as his crew. He does not realize that Dayton and his fiancée June Saxton (Downs) have also boarded the spacecraft. After a meteor bombardment loosens a shelf that falls on and kills Green, the accidental astronauts land in his prearranged location, don spacesuits, and begin exploring. Menacing rock creatures drive them into a cave, which they discover is filled with breathable air, and after removing their spacesuits they are approached by the moon people, though the only survivors are now beautiful women. Lusting after Dayton, a woman named Alpha (Bara) kills their ruler, the Lido (Stevens), and plans to marry Dayton while killing the other visitors, but another woman foils her schemes and enables them to escape. However, one of the convicts dies due to his own greed when he refuses to drop bags of diamonds he has gathered and flees from the rock creatures into the direct light of the Sun, which instantly burns him to a crisp.
While dutifully including all of the earlier film's tropes, including a giant spider and an interminable modern dance, Missile to the Moon is arguably a slightly better film than its notorious precursor, though this might also explain its obscurity: that is, it is not ludicrous enough to provoke laughter, yet not good enough to merit much attention. The film also proceeds at a more sedate pace, with a convoluted back story that literally takes a long time to get off the ground, and its lunar women are both less powerful and less threatening, having abandoned their original plans to conquer Earth. Its major innovation, the human-shaped rock creatures, were presumably derived from the Rock Men observed in the serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) (> Flash Gordon), and they undoubtedly seem more plausible as indigenous lunar organisms than spiders or beautiful women. Still, the film is scientifically idiotic in other respects, one example being the fact that its spaceship, said to be powered by "solar energy", takes off in the middle of the night. [GW]
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