John Landis, the director of the classic KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (1977), returned a decade later with an even better skit-driven spoof of late-night TV, 50s sci-fi flicks, and pop culture oddities. It's difficult to sum up what is so marvelous about the film without the reader actually having seen it, but this is a cult film viewer's dream. To sum up: a series of sketches and spoofy commercials make up a TV viewing in one crazy night.
Opening with Arsenio Hall nearly killing himself in a series of apartment mishaps, the viewer realizes he is in for a wild ride. "Scream Queen" Monique Gabrielle is a breathy "Pethouse Plaything" who walks the streets, gazes in an art museum, and goes to church buck naked! Lou Jacobi is zapped into the TV and wanders through each sketch screaming for his wife "Selma!" Michelle Pfeiffer and Peter Horton have trouble getting doctor Griffin Dunne to bring them their newborn baby! Joe Pantoliano hosts a hair looming commercial specializing in stapling carpet to bald heads; character actor Stanley Brock is a satisfied customer! David Alan Grier ("In Living Color") is Don 'No Soul' Simmons, who appears in a commercial advertising black people born without soul, hosted by B.B. King! Rosanna Arquette does a background check on blind date Steve Guttenberg and discovers his nasty dating habits! Henry Silva hosts "Bullshit or Not," a take-off on Robert Stack's "Unsolved Mysteries"! Archie Hahn dies after he's blasted by TV critics resembling Siskel and Ebert, then is roasted at his funeral by Henny Youngman, Steve Allen, Rip Taylor, Slappy White, Jackie Vernon, Charlie Callas, and even his wife Belinda Balaski, to the delight of funeral director Robert Picardo! The late great William Marshall (BLACULA) leads the Video Pirates in illegally bootlegging videotapes! Ed Begley, Jr. is the Son of the Invisible Man...whose formula doesn't exactly work like his dad's... Angel Tompkins is the First Lady, also a former hooker, in "First Lady of the Evening"! Horny teen Matt Adler becomes the spokesperson for Titan condoms ("Titan Man"), in front of date Kelly Preston, friendly sales clerk Ralph Bellamy, and to the delight of Titan president Howard Hesseman! Marc McClure is sold a Video Date tape by perv video clerk Russ Meyer, but fantasy woman Corinne Wahl's boyfriend Andrew Dice Clay surprises them "mid-coitus"!
All these surround the title film, AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON, a takeoff on 50s sci-fi flicks, borrowing heavily from QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE with Zsa Zsa Gabor. Zsa Zsa isn't here, but busty 80s sex queen Sybil Danning more than adequately fills her bra (billed in the film-within-a-film as Greta Van Zandt). Lana Clarkson, the recent murder victim of record producer Phil Spector, is the romantic interest of dimbulb Joey Travolta, and Steve Forrest (Dana Andrews' brother) is the spaceship commander. Forrest J. Ackerman is the U.S. President!! Fans of 50s schlock will love this homage, with a planet dangling by a wire, cheesy special effects, and stilted sexiest dialogue. And don't forget to sit through the credits, as there's a great 30s roadshow spoof starring Carrie Fisher as "damaged goods" and the late Paul Bartel as a deathly serious doctor!
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Such a disjointed film is hard to review, much like John Landis' earlier sketch-based KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, but actually sitting down and watching it, this much can be said: not all of it works. It's a lot funnier than KFM, which unfortunately had ideas and sketches that sounded good on paper but didn't deliver, but bits like "Silly Pathe" and "Critic's Corner" feel like the filmmakers had hysterical fits of laughter while filming them...only to have viewers shake their head in bewilderment. That said, there are more than enough classic comic moments here. David Alan Grier's Don Simmons character is a precursor of the humor present in the Wayans Brothers' "In Living Color"; seeing Russ Meyer in a feature film is a joy enough, and the ensuing mayhem is hilarious; and the Funeral Roast is delicious in its bad taste and you'll never see that group of comedians together again! A review can't convey the nifty surprises and little brilliant touches throughout the movie, but take it from me, it's a successfully funny hodgepodge of film references and homages that will hopefully find a larger cult following through this DVD re-release.
The anamorphic widescreen presentation of the film is for the most part pretty good-looking; there's grain where there should be during the black-and-white sequences, but all the colorful sketches (AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON especially) are just gorgeous. The mono audio is strong and serviceable to the goofy dialogue and fantastic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD library music.
Previously issued as a barebones disc when Image had a deal with Universal to release their niche-market titles (including MATINEE and KISS OF THE VAMPIRE!; now if only those would be re-released with extras!), Universal has now revisited the film and restored the many infamous deleted sequences and alternate footage that could only previously be seen on cable and network TV airings of the film. There are a number of bizarre additions here: besides the original opening to the spoof AMAZON WOMEN (with a "scientist" introducing the film) and a deleted Sybil Danning-Steve Forrest love scene from said "feature," Dick Miller fans will enjoy seeing "The French Ventriloquist's Dummy," with ventriloquist Miller appearing on-stage without his favorite dummy. Jenny Agutter as a flying 'Cleopatra' in "Peter Pan Theater" and an additional scene to "Roast Your Loved One!" with Bryan Cranston ("Malcolm in the Middle") as a paramedic are the highlights of the remaining deleted sequences. "The Unknown Soldier" with Bernie Casey, Wallace Langham, Robert Loggia, and Ronnie Cox, is painfully unfunny and belonged on the cutting room floor. However, still missing is the alternate version of Monique Gabrielle's "Pethouse Plaything" video with her in lingerie and the alternate version of "Bullshit or Not" entitled "Baloney or Not." The supplements are finished off with an amusing outtakes/blooper reel (including B.B. King and Henry Silva providing some great flubbed line readings, Sybil Danning shaking those marvelous mammories, and multiple instances of the marvelous Paul Bartel cracking up Carrie Fisher) and the tough-to-sell theatrical trailer. Sadly, no John Landis-Joe Dante-Carl Gottlieb-Peter Horton-Robert K. Weiss group commentary, which is a pity as at least Landis and Dante both are masters of the medium, but there's still plenty here to keep fans of this cult classic happy.
All in all, this is one of those
video staples that would surprise unsuspecting viewers in the golden age of
video and the laughs have aged like fine wine. A recommended purchase, and quite
a surprising choice for a Special Edition disc from the usually stingy Universal!
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