Robot Monster (a.k.a. Monster from Mars and Monsters from the Moon)

Year 1953

George Nader as   Roy
Claudia Barrett as Alice
Selena Royale   as Mother
John Mylong as   The Professor
Gregory Moffett   as Johnny
Pamela Paulson as Carla
George Barrows   as Ro-Man the Monster  
Director - Phil Tucker
Screenwriter - Wyott Ordung  

This movie, Robot Monster, is notorious for a few reasons. The most poplular reason is the shoddy alien.

The Robot Monster, or Ro-Man (Barrows) as he's called in the movie, has nearly taken over the Earth. Actually, he's killed everyone on Earth using his calcinator (yes, calcinator) ray except for eight people that are immune. His job is to track down and kill the remaining eight so that his race can take over the globe. The surviving humans try and put up a fight, but it's war of attrition and Ro-Man looks like he'll be the victor until he sees Alice (Barrett). He becomes smitten with her. His conflict between wanting to possess her and needing to kill her is part of the plot.

I remember watching this on television as a child. At the time, I thought it was boring. I also thought it was disjointed. Over the years, I convinced myself that the unrelated scenes were somehow surreal. Talk about self-deception! The movie isn't that disjointed and it's not excessively boring because it's sometimes unintentionally funny. And can any movie listing a bubble machine in the opening credits be all bad?

Gotta Count 'Em All

Here's a quick summary of the opening scenes. Little Johnny (Moffett or Muppet) wants to play a game about saving the world from invading aliens. His sister wants to play house. Johnny plays his game and his sister tags along. Togther they meet paleontologists who happen to be collecting things in a nearby cave. One of the paleontologits, Roy (Nader) meets Alice who is Johnny's older sister. They all have a picnic and afterward Johnny wanders off. At this point, during Johnny's scheduled nappy time, the earth is invaded. For some reason, giant lizards tussle, too. Then comes the whole Ro-Man thing.

During the "Time of Ro-Man", the cave where Johnny met Roy becomes Ro-Man's base. Roy really hooks up with Alice now and they get married. Since she lost her virginity to Roy in an earlier scene, and HAS to get married, why is she wearing white? Otherewise, what will the neighbors think! All six, no four, no... There are no neighbors! In fact, there are only six people left alive at all. Why does she HAVE to get married? And why isn't the groom wearing a shirt? He looks like a tall Pierce Brosnan, but that's still no excuse. Cover yourself!

But I digress. Back to Johnny. One minute everything is "normal" and the next there're giant lizards, a gorilla in a helmet, and a calcintor ray. What happened? Hint! Invaders from Mars was released the same year.

So, if you take into account why things are being depicted, then how they're depicted makes perfect sense.

That's not to say that it's reasonable, just that it's acceptable in the scope of its premise.

Let's talk about some silly things. Like the picnic. Who in their right mind would decide that an open space baking in the sun is the perfect place to have a picnic? Use the cave.

A shadeless desert rock! Let's have a picnic!

Did you notice all of the rocks? What's the perfect footwear to use when traipsing over rugged terrain? Boots? Nah. Flat shoes? Nah. A mule? Nope.

Hiking Heels

That's Alice and she's always wearing heels. Always. Walking, being carried away, or being tied up, it doesn't matter to Alice. It's all about the shoes.

Then there's Ro-Man. Ro-Man is part machine and part organic. This, is far as I know, is the first movie to think in terms of cyborgs, or cybernetic organisms. It's actually a pretty imaginative concept. Everything in movies to this point (1953) was either about machines or organisms. Nobody had thought to combine the two. In the hands of a good writer, it could've elevated this movie. But, it's almost an afterthought. It gets mentioned and there's the conflict within Ro-Man of the unthinking machine versus feeling human, but it never gets fleshed out. (Get it? Human? Flesh? Nevermind.) Even his name Robot-Human is a clue as to what the writer was going for. Alas, his reach exceeded his grasp.

Ro-Man's race wiped out humans because the aliens needed to nip our chaos in the bud. If they'd let us alone, then at some point in the future we'd meet them and go to war with them. Probably even conquer them. So, while we're still vulnerable, we should be wiped out instead. Makes sense, I guess. For the pacifist aliens to avoid war, the only reasonable solution is genocide. Then, with all life eradicated on Earth, the alien race is going to come to Earth to live. Since they have to wear helmets, so I assume the air isn't what they need. So, why would they colonize a place where they couldn't breathe. That one, I didn't buy (either).

I've mentioned Ro-Man numerous times. Let's take a look at him.

"At least my face is shame."

The diving helmet, the antennae, the gorilla suit, the stocking over the face. It can only be Ro-Man! Robot monster! Scourge of the human race! Yay! This has to be one of the most disparate monsters ever committed to film. And therein lies the uniqueness of the movie. Not the gratuitous use of "dinosaurs", not the space station that looks like a rocket on a string, not the video screen that looks like it's made out of wood, not even the idea that two people can repopulate the planet. There's never been another monster like Ro-Man, at least in appearance.

The writing is poor, the acting is usually passable, and the plot is from the fevered mind of a ten year old. (Want to make something sound all science-y and alien-y? Just put an X in front of it. What's the plan? XJ-19 or something. Even Ro-Man is called by X-something-or-other at one point.) But, it's not boring if you want to laugh at a movie.

No nudity, profanity, or blasphemy. The dialog is drivel. The plot premise isn't much better. At just over an hour running time, though, it might be worth the investment just because it has to be seen to be believed.

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