Horror. Worldview. Faith.

Robot Monster – Review

Robot Monster – Review

Jun 3, 2010

reviewed by hallo
directed by Phil Tucker, 1953

This review is the first in my series of reviews of the movies showcased in Disney’s Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater.

If ever the popular cult cliche “so bad it’s good” applied to a B-rated horror film, it would find a welcomed home with the 1953 Sci-Fi horror production Robot Monster.  After deciding to review the movies in Disney’s Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, my first obstacle was going to be actually finding them.  Obviously, my local Blockbuster store did not have a copy of Robot Monster on hand.  I have discovered that even finding a few of these films to purchase is quite the task.  To my amazement, Amazon.com had Robot Monster available through their “Amazon On-Demand” video service.  So, I “rented” the movie through Amazon for $2.99 and watched it right on my desktop.  The fact that Amazon has this title available through their on demand service highlights the cult following Robot Monster now enjoys among sci-fi and horror fans.

It would be hard to overstate how bad this movie is.  For starters, the majority of the movie is just a dream by a little boy, Johnny.  The only “real” parts of the film are the very beginning when the characters are introduced and then the very end when Johnny awakes.  The “creature” (in his dream) is a fat guy wearing a fat gorilla suit with a make-shift diving helmet on his head topped with some bunny-ear antennas.  His name is “Ro-Man” and he has been given one simple assignment from his superior (lovingly named The Great Guidance).  Destroy all the inhabitants on planet earth.  This takes all of about 9 seconds thanks to Ro-Man’s calcinator death ray.  However, as is typical of the human race, there remains a small group of humans, eight of them in fact, that just refuse to die.  We meet them for “real” at the beginning of the movie and they are a professor (scientist), his assistant, two other unlucky chaps who exists just to be killed, a widow, her two daughters and one son.  Interestingly, during the dream portion of the movie (which is the majority of the film), these characters take on different roles.  So, the professor is now married to the widow and takes on the role of scientist/father/husband.  Even during the short “real” portion of the film at the beginning, little Johnny was hoping this would happen.  So, the movie does attempt to demonstrate how the dreams of little boys can be in part determined by the desires of their heart.  Roy, the handsome and well-built young man, becomes the love interest for Alice, the eldest daughter.  Thanks to a recent invention by the father/scientist – a new serum that prevents anyone from getting sick (even stops the common cold!) – the family and the other remaining characters are impervious to Ro-Man’s dreaded calcinator death ray!  Thank God.

The Great Guidance is becoming more and more irritated that Ro-Man cannot complete such a ridiculously easy assignment as wiping out humans.  He reveals his frustrations to Ro-Man through the use of the highly advanced bedsheet/intergalactic video transmitter.  Thankfully, the Ro-Men speak perfect English.  To our surprise, the family also has an intergalactic video transmitter and is able to communicate with Ro-Man, although he is unaware of their location.  Due to Ro-Man’s own frustrations and the threats offered by The Great Guidance, Ro-Man leaves the confines of his bubble-invested cave and sets out on foot to locate the pesky humans.  At this point in the movie, I had to pause the film because I was laughing so hard.  For what seems like an eternity, we see Ro-Man just walking around.  Down hills, up hills, around bushes, down a long deserted road, he is just wandering around.  I could have sworn at one point Ro-Man was clearly gasping for breath as he ascended a hill.  The family seems to be in no real danger.  Even if Ro-Man found them, which apparently is never going to happen, although he is only about 2 minutes from their hideout, all the family would need to do is walk at a brisk pace and they would easily escape the clutches of Ro-Man.  This is similar to Tom Savini’s emphasis on the “ease” of escape from zombies in his ill-fated 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead.

Anyway, eventually the family decides to just wander around as well for no apparent reason.  Ro-Man by this time has a huge crush on Alice.  Unfortunately, in one of the most bizarre scenes in the movie, Alice and Roy were married at a very make-shift ceremony by the father/scientist.  This doesn’t stop Ro-Man.  After crashing their “honeymoon”, which consisted of some super weird dialoge followed by some “necking” in the woods, Ro-Man strangles Roy and takes Alice back to his cave (yes, the bubble invested one).  The Great Guidance comes on the intergalactic bedsheet just as Ro-Man is tying up Alice.  He isn’t quite able to tie her up and leaves the ropes dangling as he goes to answer The Great Guidance.  To our amazement, when Ro-Man returns to Alice, she is completely tied up!  Hmmmm, perhaps Alice has a little bit of a wild side about her?  At this point, The Great Guidance is seriously ticked off that Ro-Man is not killing Alice, which is what he has been commanded to do.  He accuses Ro-Man of being more like a Hu-Man (another line that had me laughing out loud).  Ro-man has no problem knocking of the children though because when Johnny interrupts his time with Alice, who is still tied up in the cave, Ro-Man abruptly goes out and strangles him to death.  Poor Johnny.  It is the last thing Ro-Man will ever do, however, because The Great Guidance kills Ro-Man through the use of his own kind of calcinator death ray.  Thankfully, the boy wakes up and we see that everyone is just fine.  Or are they?

The one “thinking” moment of the movie, if you can call it that, is when Ro-Man is given orders to kill Alice, despite his newly acquired feelings for her.  Ro-Man begins talking to himself and asks repeatedly, “how do you graph “must” and “cannot?”  He ends up losing his own life because the “cannot” aspect of the graph dominated.

Hey, this was a lot of fun to watch.  It is of course terrible.  Yet, writing this review was probably the most fun yet I have had on The Blackest Eyes.  At the end of the day, that is exactly what Robot Monster and all the other B sci-fi movies of that era were attempting to do; have fun.  I can only guess what the next installment will have in store for me.

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