Friday, October 9, 2009

Robot Monster: Attack of RO-MAN!!!

Robot Monster, 1953, Astor Films, most prints run about an hour. Directed by Phil Tucker. Starring George Nader, Claudia Barrett, John Mylong, George Barrows. Schlock-Meter rating: 7 stars out of 10.

See Robot Monster! The plot: A gorilla with a diving mask (or it may be a goldfish bowl?) calls himself Ro-Man, from a planet that may be the moon. He's hanging out in a cave in Bronson Canyon near Los Angeles with a bubble machine and a TV communicator where he talks to The Great One. Apparently Ro-Man has killed everyone on earth except a scientist, his family, and the scientist's assistant (Nader). He did this with a calcinator death ray. We are shown badly edited stop-animation of small-scale dinosaurs fighting (over and over) to explain the earth's demise.

Try as it might, Robot Monster can't kill the plucky six humans left in the earth that are camped a few hundred yards away. Finally, Ro-Man gets the hots for the scientist's attractive daughter, who just married Nader! The Great One kills Ro-Man as punishment for his lust and destroys the world. More stock footage. It turns out to have all been a dream of a little boy. Or was it? Ro-Man is seen lumbering toward the camera three times in a row. The film was first shot in 3-D.

Robot Monster is so bad that it is funny. This film is tagged as a horror, but it's so non-scary that I wonder if director Tucker may have been making a kiddie matinee film. The acting is atrocious. The German professor's (Mylong) accent is bogus. Ro-Man looks ridiculous waddling through the countryside (HE DESTROYED THE WORLD?). The stock footage doesn't match and often makes no sense. But, it's funny, and that makes it worth a rental.

Here's some dialogue, the scene where Ro-Man, consumed with a lust for the daughter, bellows out his emotions: "Yes, to be like the hu-man. To laugh. Feel. Want. Why are these things not in the plan?" Sheer idiocy. But this cult film is fun, and goes well with a party after midnight. I also like the part where Nader complain that his girlfriend (Barrett) is so bossy she should be milked!

The late director Tucker was a fixture among Grade Z films. Besides Robot Monster, he also directed Dance Hall Racket (with Lenny Bruce!) and Cape Canaveral Monsters. Rumor has it Tucker worked a lot with Edward D. Wood, Jr., but he was always mum when asked about that part of his life.
-- Doug Gibson

1 comment:

Paul Castiglia said...

Steve & Doug - couldn't find an email address for you so I hope you don't mind me using the comment box. Thought you (and maybe your readers) would be interested in my blog-to-book project SCARED SILLY: CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD HORROR-COMEDIES. The blog launches this Halloween at and the book will feature a foreword by noted character actor, monster movie collector and spook show reenactor, Daniel Roebuck.