DirectorJoe Dante/Carl Gottlieb/Peter Horton/John Landis/Robert K. Weiss
Release Date(s)1987 (November 10, 2020)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: B+
Amazon Women in the Moon is the combined directorial efforts of Joe Dante, John Landis, Carl Gottlieb, Robert K. Weiss, and Peter Horton. While not a direct, or even unofficial, sequel to Kentucky Fried Movie, it’s a predecessor to TV shows like Robot Chicken. The premise of flipping through TV channels for an unorthodox potpourri of odd and hilarious programming is certainly ripe with possibilities. The film itself was an albatross of sorts around the necks of Universal Pictures who didn’t know what to make of it, how to market it, or what to do with it. Filmed in 1985, it wasn’t released until two years later after rounds of test screenings and re-edits, which in retrospect, might have hampered its more baseline chaotic qualities.
In many ways, Amazon Women on the Moon is superior to Kentucky Fried Movie in terms of variety, creativity, and star appeal, while at the same time it’s inferior in terms of structure. The sketches do not exactly jibe with each other, which is partly to be expected from an anthological viewpoint, but at the same time there were various moments and sketches left out of the film that probably could have improved it. Yet as uneven as it is, it has many hilarious moments, including pitch perfect send-ups of The Invisible Man, 1950s science fiction, and black-and-white teenage propaganda short films. In between are hilarious takes on comedy roasts, hair care for men commercials, Penthouse video segments, and movie criticism.
The film also features an array of comedic and acting talent, as well as random celebrities, personalities, and filmmakers. They include Arsenio Hall, Lou Jacobi, Monique Gabrielle, Griffin Dunne, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steve Forrest, Forrest J Ackerman, Sybil Danning, David Alan Grier, Joe Pantoliano, B.B. King, Rosanna Arquette, Steve Guttenberg, Henry Silva, Belinda Balaski, Robert Picardo, Rip Taylor, Jackie Vernon, Henny Youngman, Steve Allen, William Marshall, Ed Begley, Jr., Matt Adler, Kelly Preston, Ralph Bellamy, Howard Hesseman, Russ Meyer, Corrine Wahl, Andrew Dice Clay, Carrie Fisher, and Paul Bartel, among many others. As such, Amazon Women on the Moon offers a shmorgishborg of comedic set pieces and TV and film luminaries that went mostly unappreciated upon its brief theatrical release, but made a large impact on home video and cable throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics brings Amazon Women on the Moon to Blu-ray for the first time in the US utilizing a high definition master supplied by Universal. Because the film offers a variety of visuals, not the least of which switching between aspect ratios of 1.85:1 and 1.37:1, the presentation was never meant to evoke the kind of quality one might expect for Blu-ray. That said, the film looks better than it ever has, baked-in flaws and all. The color palette is rich with an assortment of beautiful hues from segment to segment, and offers superior blacks and shadow detail in the black-and-white portions. Skin tones are especially improved, appearing natural with excellent facial detail. The aforementioned inherent flaws include scratches, splices, soft focus, and discoloration. All of it adds to the visual personality of the film, which has not been compromised here. It presents it as intended, warts and all, but organically with a high encode.
The audio is included in English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional English subtitles. It features many of the same qualities as the video portion, including intentional hiss, crackle, and distortion, making it imperfect, but the track itself is presented with excellent clarity. Dialogue exchanges are mostly discernible, other than when they’re lowered for effect, while sound effects and Ira Newborn’s score (not to mention the non-soulful sounds of Don “No Soul” Simmons) have decent impact as well.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Kat Ellinger and Mike McPadden
- Bullshit or Not: The True Story of Amazon Women on the Moon (HD – 24:16)
- Reckless Youth Dailies (SD – 11:46)
- Reckless Youth Deleted Scene (SD – 0:37)
- Roast Your Loved One: Rip Taylor Deleted Act (SD – 4:09)
- Roast Your Loved One: Jackie Vernon Deleted Act (SD – 3:47)
- Roast Your Loved One: Henny Youngman Full Act (SD – 4:57)
- More Outtakes (SD – 5:59)
- Deleted Scenes (SD – 6 in all – 19:18)
- Trailer (SD – 1:32)
- I’m Gonna Git You Sucka Trailer (SD – 2:11)
- Mafia! Trailer (SD – 2:18)
- Oscar Trailer (SD – 1:24)
The new audio commentary with writers and film historians Kat Ellinger and Mike McPadden is an interestining listen, mainly because Kat Ellinger admits to not getting all of the American pop culture jokes in her youth, which Mike McPadden occasionally explains to her. The rest of the time is filled up with the two of them discussing the merits of the film and their appreciation of it. Bullshit or Not: The True Story of Amazon Women on the Moon is an excellent new documentary that features interviews with directors John Landis, Joe Dante, co-editor Marshall Harvey, casting director Julie Selzer, and actress Belinda Balaski about the making of the film. The newly-discovered Reckless Youth and Roast Your Loved One dailies and deleted segments are sourced from Joe Dante’s personal archive, offering additional material that hit the cutting room floor during the film’s torturous edit. More Outtakes is essentially a bloopers reel while the Deleted Scenes feature many of the moments that were trimmed out of the film, though some were cut back into TV versions (the alternate clothed version of Monique Gabrielle’s segment hasn’t been included). Rounding out things is the film’s trailer, as well as three trailers for other Kino Lorber titles. It’s worth noting that the 101 Films Blu-ray release in the UK features an audio commentary with Nathaniel Thompson & Tim Greer and interviews with Carl Gottlieb and Daniel Pearl, none of which have been carried over.
Though its critics and audiences, and even its own creators, weren’t totally satisfied with the final product, Amazon Women on the Moon has proven to have more life in it than initially observed. Having the film in decent high definition quality finally, with a great extras package to go along with it, makes it rewarding for its long-time fans.
- Tim Salmons