‘Missile to the Moon’ (1958)

Missile to the Moon (1958)

Many cult film enthusiasts pooh-pooh It Came From Hollywood (1982), a compilation style film that predates Mystery Science Theater 3000 where popular comic actors such as Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner and John Candy riff on clips from low budget movies. The riffage is pretty disappointing and overall the film comes off as unnecessarily disrespectful, but I recall having distinct impressions made on me at a young age regarding the value of low budget fare due to It Came From Hollywood. This mish mash of sewn together clips became a canon of low budget pictures that I actively sought over the years prior to the Internet and, I am embarrassed to admit, even before my family had a video machine. Eclectic fare is far more accessible these days, but in the dark ages, low budget Sci-Fi came on late at night and occasionally on Saturday afternoons. I remember stumbling across Missile to the Moon while the Super Bowl was on another channel one year and being energized by recognizing motorcycle helmet–clad scientists being chased by slow moving rock creatures that really posed no active threat to anyone who was able to move past a crawl.

Dirk Green (Michael Whalen) is the creator of an experimental rocket that the powers that be have deemed too risky to launch. Frustrated, Dirk takes the opportunity of discovering two escaped convicts Gary (Tommy Cook) and Lon (Gary Clarke) hiding out in it to light that candle and travel to the moon. Dirks partner Steve Dayton (Richard Travis) and his girlfriend June (Cathy Downs) run aboard to attempt to stop the blast off and end up tagging along inadvertently. The rocket is launched and the five resign themselves to explore the moon. While on the moon, the group is attacked by slow moving rock people, gigantic spiders, and encounter a society of beauty queens. (Literally. Winners of a beauty contest portray the moon women.) The women don’t take kindly specifically to Jun’s presence and the queen develops some convoluted idea that she is supposed to marry Dirk. As the queen becomes frustrated with the visitors, it becomes apparent that this lone society of women is not as peaceful as they appear to be.

Missile to the Moon is a classic, pre-manned space exploration tale where attractive women live in caves on the moon, wear bikinis, and inexplicably speak English. The 1950s must have been a magical time for comic book artists and filmmakers. NASA sure went and spoiled everything by getting up there and finding a bunch of boring old rocks. Before that, no one had any defining proof that there were no gigantic rock creatures living on the moon.