Lunar nature camp
Okay, all you ladies — scram! I want to talk to just the men for a while. Go check out the Buffy bulletin boards for a while or something.
Are they gone? Good. Hey cats, ever want to see a movie with something a little more than spaceships and aliens? Sure you do. Well, here’s one that shows women with their clothes off! That’s right, real live chicks, naked from the waist up. Whoa! Don’t worry, Melvin — it’s got spaceships and aliens, too. Now let me tell you the story of why those astronauts were really so anxious to get to the moon.
There was a time when it was a lot easier to get a bunch of guys into a theater. During the 1950s, it was ruled that the human body could be legally shown to adults in a theater, as long as it was done in a legitimate documentary context. A parade of nudist camp films began to make its way across the country, and the crowds lined up for a peek.
Have you ever seen one of these old nudist camp films? That’s right, they’re dull. About an hour of unattractive people frolicking about in the buff, playing volleyball and such. Look around you — unless you’re hanging out in the secretarial pool of the swank PFS offices, it’s unlikely you’d enjoy seeing everyone around you naked. For a while, it was enough for the masses to see a glimpse of skin, but once they got bored with it, the savvy filmmakers began stacking the deck. They started adding plots to the pictures. They’d hire good looking nude models to appear in the films. Then they started hiring well known strippers and Playboy centerfolds, who just happened to be in a nudist camp.
For a while, this was enough, too. But by 1960, the public needed something new in nudist pictures, or “naked lady movies” as their producers called them. That was when things got weird. Very weird.
Doris Wishman had already made a few nudist movies, like Nature’s Playthings and Blaze Starr Goes Nudist. Some of them were filmed at the picturesque Coral Castle in Florida, a nearby nudist camp where others also made films. Looking at the strange decorative landscaping structures of the camp, Doris got an idea.
The film opens with Ralph Young singing the original tune “I’m Mooning Over You (My Little Moon Doll)” over a painted lunar landscape. Hope you like this catchy little ditty, as it’s repeated several times throughout the picture. Doc Severinsen also composed some of the music, and even appears onscreen.
Like all the old moon rocket movies, the project in this one is privately financed. Dashing rocket scientist Dr. Jeff Huntley (William Mayer) has just inherited millions, so he and the Professor (Lester Brown) can go ahead with their moon project on their own, without outside funding. His secretary Cathy (Marietta) wishes Jeff would celebrate the news with her, rather than his childhood sweetheart. But Jeff doesn’t have any girl on his mind. He only has eyes for gleaming test tubes and shiny rockets.
The boys settle into playing with beakers and oscilloscopes, while discussing facts and statistics — you know, science stuff. They’re so busy that they never change out of their scientist jumpsuits. The Professor takes time to nag Jeff that he ought to get married.
Director Doris pads out the picture with lots of shots of her pink Cadillac convertible, and plugs for her previous picture Hideout in the Sun. Then the boys climb into their model rocket to blast off. They talk to each other via radios, despite the fact that they’re sitting right next to each other. It looks like Wishman snuck into the cabin of a jet to shoot these scenes. The special effects are of backyard quality.
A quick nap later, and they’ve landed on the moon. Donning ridiculous space suits straight out of Buck Rogers, the boys go exploring. They’re excited to find hunks of rock on the moon, but aren’t as interested in the lake, palm trees and foliage surrounding them.
Then they discover a wall! Peering over, they find that there are people living there — topless people, with antennas! They find themselves captured by the moon folk, entranced by the magic wands of the fabulous moon dolls.
The Moon Folk communicate telepathically, which is a great help when it comes to dubbing. The Moon Queen, who looks a heck of a lot like Cathy the secretary, determines that they should help the strangers. The moon dolls are fascinated with the visitors, having never seen a shirt before.
Jeff is fascinated with the queen. The Professor changes his tune, urging Jeff to concentrate on recording data, rather than romance. The two of them observe as the carefree moon people toss around a moon watermelon, play in the sprinkler, and perform interpretive dances. Oddly, they’re not worried by the guy sharpening a hatchet. There is surprisingly little accordion music for a nudie, and no harmonica at all.
Jeff gets the moon madness and decides to stay with the Moon Queen, despite the fact he’s running out of oxygen.
Nude on the Moon, also known as Moon Dolls and Nature Girls on the Moon, was made during a period when Wishman didn’t have much dialogue in her movies. She had yet to fully develop her directorial style, which evolved through the necessity of having to cut away from speaking characters to hide a rough dubbing job. But then, this movie is plenty weird enough as it is, I’m sure you’ll agree.
All Something Weird DVDs now open with one of their terrific montages of film clips from their library. Doris Wishman’s films of the nudie years featured intensely colorful photography, and the digital transfer here shows off every glorious hue as sharply as the film grain will allow. Doris has refused to cooperate by recording commentary tracks to her films, bitter over the loss of video rights to the titles. However, SWV provides some other DVD extras.
A theatrical trailer surprisingly sells the film as a serious sci-fi adventure. There’s also a Doris Wishman Gallery of Exploitation Art. Wishman’s promotions weren’t as jarring as those of, say, Herschell Gordon Lewis, but the spirit of the films often carried over into the advertising.
The best extra is a vintage short called Moon Strip, in which a green haired female astronaut disrobes for little green men, accompanied by sexist commentary: “At least there’s no traffic on the moon for women to foul up.”