With master of disaster Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall arriving February 4, we’ve got the moon on the brain. Not the semi-plausible or at least seriously considered depictions seen in movies like Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Ad Astra, but the full-on goofy treatments that put the “fiction” in “science fiction.” In other words: who’s hungry for cheese?
Independence Day: Resurgence
Moonfall definitely offers the most prominent placement of the Earth’s satellite in one of Roland Emmerich’s disaster epics. But it also factored into his 2016 Independence Day sequel, housing a strategic base designed to help prevent, y’know, the events of the first film from happening again. Thanks to the alien technology left behind by the would-be invaders in 1996, it’s no biggie for humans pop on up to the moon when the need arises — but when a wormhole near the moon serves as the entry point for the aliens’ inevitable return, Resurgence gets to recreate ID4‘s ominous giant shadow, this time creeping across the lunar surface rather than soon-to-be-obliterated cityscapes.
Independence Day: Resurgence is streaming on Disney+.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (made by that other master of disaster, Michael Bay), introduces a brand-new moon conspiracy theory, which asserts that while the 1969 moon landing was real, its true purpose was to investigate a crash-landed Cybertronian spaceship. The remains of that spaceship cause all manner of shenanigans in the ongoing war between the Decepticons and Autobots, though most puny humans with any knowledge of the situation are murdered before they can get the word out. That’s what passes for set-up here; the rest of the movie is basically just giant robot fights.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash
A movie so, uh, memorable it advanced to the Elite Eight in Gizmodo’s 2012 March Movie Madness bracket determining the worst science fiction movie ever made, 2002 sci-fi “comedy” The Adventures of Pluto Nash stars Eddie Murphy as both the title character and his evil clone, who clash over the ownership of a nightclub located in the bustling, organised-crime-plagued moon colony of Little America. In a 2012 interview with our pals over at the A.V. Club, co-star Joe Pantoliano reflected thusly on the notorious bomb: “You usually can’t tell when a movie is going to be shit, but on that one you could.”
The Adventures of Pluto Nash can be found on SBS On Demand.
A Trip to the Moon
One of the very first sci-fi movies — complete with the most dazzling special effects 1902 could offer — this short, silent delight from writer-director-star Georges Méliès follows a group of astronauts as they take a fanciful trip to the moon, where the local population is none too welcoming. Watching it is like seeing a work of collage art come to life. A Trip to the Moon also features one of the most iconic shots in early cinema, of the astronauts’ rocket plunging right into the eyeball of the (understandably perturbed!) man in the moon.
You can catch all 13 minutes and 38 seconds of A Trip to the Moon on YouTube.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
The “moon” part of this 1999 comedy sequel mostly concerns Dr. Evil (Mike Meyers), who — along with the movie’s real star, Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) — ups the ante on his quest for world domination by setting up a moon base equipped with a giant laser pointed at Earth. The Austin Powers series may not have aged particularly well, but as far as Bond-movie-parody-villains go, “giant laser pointed at the Earth” remains a rather effective bargaining chip.
Cat-Women of the Moon
Despite what that luridly coloured DVD cover might have you believe, 1953’s Cat-Women of the Moon is actually a black-and-white movie, though it was originally released in 3D. The plot is about what you’d expect: astronauts (including, gasp, a woman!) travel to the moon, where they’re shocked to encounter a population of glamorous, leotard-clad, vaguely feline beauties. The Cat-Women have determined that Earth is a more sustainable home than the moon, and set about trying to steal the spaceship using their powers of seduction (cue the slinky modern dance number) and telepathic mind control. Cat-Women of the Moon was remade just a few years later as 1958’s Missile to the Moon, which changes the plot a tad (adding in some younger characters, including a pair of tough-talking stowaways) but replicates certain elements — there’s yet another slinky modern-dance number, this time with more elaborate costumes. It even recycles the same props that brought the first film’s giant B-movie spider monsters (aack!) to life.
Head over to YouTube to catch Cat-Women of the Moon.
Hercules Against the Moonmen
MST3K got its mitts on this 1964 Franco-Italian co-production, which (along with that screamer of a title) should give you a good idea of what kind of a Z-grade flick we’re talking about here. It actually takes place in ancient Greece, so we’re kind of cheating by including it on a list of depictions of the moon, but it does concern an invading force of sinister moon-people who’re hellbent on resurrecting their queen using the blood of human children, at least until they run up against a certain beefy hero played by bodybuilder turned sword-and-sandal star Alan Steel.
YouTube is also where you’ll find Hercules Against the Moonmen.
This 2012 Finnish movie imagines that surviving Nazis fled to the moon after their defeat in World War II, biding their time and building weaponised UFOs before returning to Earth 70 years to try their hand at conquering the planet once again. Despite the presence of legendary actor Udo Kier, Iron Sky doesn’t quite achieve its cult-classic aspirations. But hey, if the world must have a “Nazis on the moon” movie — well, it might as well be this one.
Iron Sky is streaming on Stan.
First Men in the Moon
This campy 1964 H.G. Wells adaptation sets about trying to explain why the supposed first group of lunar explorers reaches its crater-filled surface only to find… a British flag and a claim that the moon is ruled by Queen Victoria. Cue the flashback to 1899! While the space mission takes a bit to lift off, when it finally does, we get a jolly tale of a man, his fiancée, and his nutty scientist neighbour journeying to a moon filled with incredible Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animated monsters, which quite obviously makes the waiting worthwhile.
First Men in the Moon can be purchased through Apple TV for $4.99.
Nude on the Moon
In 1961, sexploitation filmmaker Doris Wishman posed a question to the world: “what if there was a nudist colony… on the moon?” Follow-up questions: “What if the moon looked… a lot like Florida?” And “What if all this had… a theme song entitled ‘I’m Mooning Over You (My Little Moon Doll)’?” The fact that you can catch this one, which Wishman co-directed with Raymond Phelan, on the Criterion Channel actually says a lot about its singular cinematic legacy.
Mubi is streaming Nude on the Moon.