Amazon Women on the Moon

November 17, 2011

In some ways, Amazon Women on the Moon is a return to roots for John Landis. Landis, who directed such blockbusters as Animal House and The Blues Brothers, got his entrée into mainstream filmmaking with the mid-1970s success of Kentucky Fried Movie, a zingy low-budget collection of sketches and parodies.

Amazon Women is in much the same vein, and Landis serves as the film’s executive producer; he also directed some sequences, along with Joe Dante (Gremlins), Carl Gottlieb, Peter Horton, and Robert K. Weiss.

As is inevitable with such omnibus films, some things score, others flop. I think Amazon Women has too many misses, but certain gags could attain cult status.

Except for a bit in which a man (Lou Jacobi) gets zapped into his TV set and wanders through various reruns and movies, the opening sketches are weak. But around the time we begin a parody of ’50s sci-fi movies, the collection perks up.

This bad movie-within-the-movie, which is constantly interrupted by commercial spoofs (B.B. King pleads for donations for a charity called “Black Without Soul”), is an inspired parody, all about space travelers who encounter a race of extremely tall women on the moon (see, the title does make sense). The sets are cardboard, the special effects tacky. And the actors are vintage: stalwart Steve Forrest, formidable Sybil Danning, and Robert Colbert, who used to be one of the time-trippers on the TV show “The Time Tunnel.”

A “Believe It Or Not” rip-ff suggests, through dramatic re-enactment, that Jack the Ripper was in fact Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. There’s a comedy roast (featuring Steve Allen, Slappy White, and Rip Taylor) for a dead man, at his funeral. And a man watching television is shocked when two TV movie reviewers suddenly turn thumbs-down on his own life, decrying it for its lack of originality and dullness (the man’s wife assures him that “They didn’t like Gandhi, either”).

This is the sort of movie best viewed under specialized circumstances—namely, with a group of like-minded friends, fueled by some small measure of liquid refreshment. It’s sophomoric, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility of a certain amount of shameless fun.

First published in the Herald, September 22, 1987

That last paragraph is how I remember seeing Kentucky Fried Movie, a film that was required viewing for a certain demographic of nerdy teenage boys. Amazon Women must have been hit and miss, as indicated, but the sci-fi movie was dead-on.