“Doctor Huntley and Professor Nichols are able to complete their work on a moon rocket because of an unexpected inheritance. They travel to the moon, but find a lush garden paradise rather than a barren wasteland. They are captured by virtually naked telepathic humanoids and taken in front of the Great Council. The Moon Goddess decides they should be allowed to continue their experiments, and Doctor Huntley begins falling in love with her. Professor Nichols worries about getting Huntley to return to earth.” (courtesy IMDB)
The director of this week’s dabble in debauchery is my old girlfriend Doris Wishman, the only woman to make those so-called ‘nature films’ shot in nudist camps during the early sixties. What set Doris apart from other exploitation filmmakers were the gimmicks she used to get around the word ‘gratuitous’ like this particularly flimsy justification, Nude On The Moon (1961). In a plot as tenuous as the lunar atmosphere itself, astronauts are astonished to discover a nature camp on the moon, an unbelievable new world where a strange race of telepathic Moon Dolls reign supreme – although it looks more like a Hawaiian with extra cheese. I’ll now allow you to enjoy Nude On The Moon in the privacy of your own home with the curtains drawn, and meet you back here in time for the next paragraph.
Nude On The Moon is an extremely divisive film. Some viewers are offended by the gratuitous nudity, while some viewers are offended that it isn’t gratuitous enough and argue that the film should be called Boobs On The Moon, which would be accurate in more ways than one. Personally, I like the title Naked Launch, but no-one ever listens to me. It was made by Doris right at the beginning of her five-decade-long career in exploitation. In order to keep ahead of the competition, her movies became stranger and stranger, with titles like Diary Of A Nudist (1961) and Gentlemen Prefer Nature Girls (1963), a title that has a totally different meaning nowadays. It was much cheaper to make films that don’t require costumes or wardrobe, but it also meant being eliminated from several Oscar categories. She also cut corners by not using real actors or scriptwriters or any of those other silly things that producers use to make so-called ‘good’ films.
They might look rather tame by today’s standards, but there’s more bare flesh to be found in one Doris Wishman film than in any Hollywood movie made today. Back in the early sixties these films were really hot stuff and as the Nudie Movie boom swept across the United States Doris was right there, camera-in-hand, to cash in. The one stipulation when making these sorts of movies was that nudism must always be shown in a positive light, which was supposedly their whole reason for being. But the real reason is because the State of New York censorship board passed them, and there were fifteen million horny people in the Big Apple ready, willing and able to pay a couple of dollars to see some bare naked ladies.
But Doris was different, in that she actually strived to insert some sort of plot. Nude On The Moon’s sort-of plot is about a pair of scientists who use a large inheritance to build a Freudian metaphor and fly to the moon, only to discover a garden paradise inhabited by a civilisation that invented hairspray before the wheel (and are therefore clearly superior). They also seem to have invented spandex shorts – bummer – or not, as the case may be. In a film full of naked people you’d think at least one of them would go on to do something a little more significant but, alas, this is about as much exposure as they’re ever going to get. Except perhaps for William Mayer who plays the professor – I’d heard he went on to be the life-mould for those plastic hair pieces Devo used to wear.
The real star in this nocturnal transmission is the location, a popular roadside attraction near Miami called Clobber Castle…I mean, Coral Castle. There’s lots of references to Coral Castle in popular culture, for instance Billy Idol wrote, recorded and filmed the music video for Sweet Sixteen there, and it was used as the dragon-god temple in Wild Women Of Wongo (1958), the anti-classic I forced upon you last year (and will force upon you again unless you read every single one of my reviews from now on). My particular favourite is the old television show In Search Of… hosted by Leonard Nimoy, which successfully avoided describing how the lone builder of the castle was able to magically move three-ton stones. One last interesting piece of trivia concerning Nude On The Moon is its soundtrack, which is surprisingly good for such a low-budget movie. The theme song I’m Mooning Over You My Little Moon Doll was written by Doris’s own niece and performed by Ralph Young who, despite this, went on to become one half of a very popular songwriting duo with Tony Sandler.
Furthermore, the music was arranged by Doc Severinsen, who later found fame as The Tonight Show‘s bandleader. So remember, if your partner ever catches you watching Nude On The Moon, just explain it has wonderful sets and good music, and that you also read Playboy for the articles. I’m sure they’ll understand. I’m also sure it’ll come as no surprise to learn that the astro-boobs leave behind the camera containing the only evidence of their discovery. You see, it’s an old cinematic rule that ordinary earthlings never find out the truth about alien life forms. If it was made today, that evidence would have been confiscated by mysterious government men-in-black and stored alongside the Ark of the Covenant, or at least in the bottom drawer of someone’s desk, only to be leaked many years later and debunked as falsies..I mean, false.
By the mid-sixties, censorship laws became even more relaxed due to the wine and soft lighting, and the novelty of the Nudie pictures wore off so, like most exploitation directors, Doris Wishman followed the trend for tougher films with lashings of sex and violence, with titillating titles like Bad Girls Go To Hell (1965), Another Day Another Man (1966), A Taste Of Flesh (1967), Too Much Too Often (1968) and Indecent Desires (1968). One particular favourite of mine is a remake of The Hands Of Orlac (1924) called The Amazing Transplant (1970), in which a man who insists on having a penis transplant becomes possessed by the spirit of the dead donor, who turns out to have been a complete dick in more ways than one, but that’s another story for another time. Right now I’ll bid you a fair fondue…a frail frond? A frontal fondle? I mean, a fond farewell until we meet here again in seven days so I may bewilder you with another amazing oddity on the best website with the worst films ever…Horror News! Toodles!