Have you seen: Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)

Tiger Media Network

With a title like this, this film could be about anything. Fortunately for this website, this film is a sketch comedy.

“Amazon Women on the Moon” was released on September 18th, 1987. The basic gist of it is that it’s a parody of the types of movies and shows that aired late at night during the 1980s. There’s not really a connected story here. It’s a comedy anthology featuring segments directed by John Landis, Joe Dante, Carl Gottlieb, Peter Horton, and Robert K. Weiss. In addition, it features a large ensemble cast featuring the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer, Arsenio Hall, Carrie Fisher, Ed Begley Jr., and a whole bunch of other people. Production-wise, there isn’t really much else to say, so on to the film.

The film’s segments are numerous, and some of them reappear throughout the film. Each segment begins and ends with a second or two of static, indicating that the viewer has changed the channel. Something that critics and audiences thought at the time (and I agree with this), is that the segments aren’t all hits. Over the course of an 85-minute running time, 21 skits are shown. Some hit but many do not, and to make things worse, the ones that are not hits go on for way too long.

The segments in the film that do work really well that stood out to me include:

  • A recurring segment about a middle-aged man who gets trapped inside his TV, and ends up in numerous TV programs and movies (such as “King Kong”) and he shows up throughout the rest of the film in other segments.
  • A mystery-type show called BS or Not hosted by Henry Silva, aims to solve famous mysteries. The mystery that this particular episode aims to solve, is who was the serial killer Jack the Ripper, which they conclude was in fact the Loch Ness Monster.
  • A parody of 1940s Universal Monster movies, titled “Son of the Invisible Man”. It features the Invisible Man’s son (played by Ed Begely Jr.) creating a formula that will make him invisible just like his father. The thing is, it doesn’t actually work but that doesn’t stop him from thinking it did work. It’s a pretty good tribute/parody to the old horror films.
  • A parody of the 1936 film “Reefer Madness” titled “Reckless Youth”. It stars Carrie Fisher, and much like the “Son of the Invisible Man” segment, does a good job replicating its source material as well as making fun of it. 
  • Finally, there are two connected sequences involving a guy named Harvey Pitnik. In the first segment, Pitnik turns on the TV to see two critics roasting his life on air, including the way he dies. This causes him to die (it makes more sense if you actually watch it in context). The next segment involving Pitnik takes place at his funeral, which turns into a celebrity roast where a bunch of celebrities (such as Rip Taylor, Henny Youngman, and Steve Allen) show up to roast the late Pitnik. If you like dark and mean-spirited humor, you’ll probably get something from these segments.

The rest of the segments in the film do not work that well. This is mostly due to the fact that they repeat the same joke over and over to the point it gets old really quickly. I’m not going to go through every single one, but I will mention two of these segments that showcase this problem.

First off, there’s a very drawn-out scene at a hospital with a husband and wife (played by Peter Horton and Michelle Pieffer, who were married in real life at the time). They just had a baby, and the doctor is going to extreme lengths to postpone them seeing their kid. It’s long and uncomfortable. And another very drawn-out segment featuring Arsenio Hall, where he goes to his apartment, and no matter what he does something goes wrong. For example, his tie gets caught in the garbage disposal, or his TV explodes. It’s basically the same joke repeating over and over. Just imagine a bunch of other segments that have the same problem but are mixed in with actual funny scenes, and you have the movie. It should be noted that the Arsenio Hall segment is one of the first in the film, so it kind of sets an awkward tone that persists throughout. 

There is another segment interspersed throughout the film that I can’t tell if it’s good or bad. That segment is the titular “Amazon Women on the Moon”. Yeah, it’s not some random title that they came up with for the movie, it’s supposed to be a movie within a movie. It’s essentially a parody of 1950s science fiction movies (specifically 1953’s “Cat-Women of the Moon”) and a pretty accurate parody of 50s B-movies at that. The main problem I have with it that keeps me from liking it more, is that I would’ve preferred that they had made a full-length parody rather than a few excerpt scenes and a whole bunch of other unconnected nonsensical nonsense segments. On the other hand, maybe it would’ve been too much. I don’t know.

Overall, “Amazon Women on the Moon” is a mess. There are a few hits, but in my opinion, two-thirds of it is pretty dumb. It does have a cult following and I can see why. To be honest, pretty much anything made can and does have an audience, but I’m not a part of that crowd and would not recommend watching the full thing. Just look up the segments I liked on YouTube and toss the rest.

Side Note:

A young Bryan Cranston appears in one of the deleted scenes. Despite the fact that he does not appear in the final product when asked if he could remove a film from his filmography, he picked this film as his candidate.

John Billinger is an FHSU student in the Informatics Department and an avid movie buff.

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