There are bad movies...and then there are BAD movies. Years ago the Medved brothers reintroduced stinkers like Plan 9 From Outer Space to the public in their groundbreaking books, The 50 Worst Films of All Time and The Golden Turkey Awards. The "Mystery Science Theater 3000" gave us a chance to watch the best of the worst on TV. Today there are millions of bad movie buffs... and Uncle John is one of them. Here's one of his favorite stinkers.
ROBOT MONSTER (1953)
Starring George Nader, Claudia Barrett, Selena Royle, John Mylong, George Barrows.
Background: Director Phil Tucker made this opus for less than $20,000. He couldn't afford to rent a real robot costume, but (fortunately for bad movie lovers) he knew a guy named George Barrows, who owned his own gorilla suit. "When [moviemakers] needed a gorilla in a picture," Tucker explained to the Medveds in The Golden Turkey Awards, "they called George. [He] got like forty bucks a day... [but] I thought, 'George will work for me for nothing. I'll get a diving helmet, put it on him, and it'll work!'"
It did work. Years later, Tucker's robot even won an award. Okay, it was a Golden Turkey Award for "The Most Ridiculous Monster in Screen History." But it was well-deserved. "Unlike many other cinematic robots," Ken Beggs writes in Jabootu's Bad Movie Universe, "[this one] has the appearance of a morbidly obese man in a shaggy gorilla costume, adorned with a deep sea diving helmet over his nylon-stocking bedecked noggin" -and the helmet was topped with a rabbit-ears TV antenna. You have to see it to believe it.
(YouTube link)Note: Strange anomaly for such a seat-of-the-pants production: Robot Monster was filmed in 3D, and the music recorded in stereo. Even more surprising: the score was written by Elmer Bernstein, later one of Hollywood's most accomplished composers (he wrote the music, for example, for The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape).
The Plot: Ro-Man, from the planet Ro-Man, arrives on Earth. His mission: wipe out all human life with his deadly Calcinator Ray. He unleashes a barrage of cheesy-looking death rays, then reports to his master -the "Great One"- via a bubble machine, that the entire human population is dead.
Wrong. Ro-Man's boss -who looks suspiciously like Ro-Man (with a different diving helmet)- informs him that there are still eight people left alive ...and six happen to be hiding behind a force field right near Ro-Man's cave. Who are they? The Professor, Mary Ann, Ginger... oops, wrong castaways. A German professor, his hunky helper (Roy), a mom (Mom), her two little kids (Johnny and Carla), and her grown daughter (Alice).
Ro-Man's job is to wander around the desert and find them, then figure out why they're not dead -and then kill them. But the shaggy robot runs into a little problem: he falls for Alice. The Great One is pretty ticked off about that.
Meanwhile, Alice and Roy are inspired by the apocalypse, and fall in love. (Lucky for Alice, since "he's the only man alive not related to her.") They kiss, Roy takes his shirt off, then they get married. The Great One gets a bit upset at Ro-Man and vaporizes him ...along with the Earth.
The end? Not exactly -turns out Johnny has hit his head and dreamed the whole thing. Ha-ha! Now The End.
* Ro-Man (Barrows) walking...and walking...and walking in the desert. It must have been 120° in that suit -it's amazing Barrows survived. You gotta feel for they guy -and he was doing it for nothing!
* The Cave. Why is Ro-Man, who has wiped out everyone Earth and can take his pick of locations, hanging out in a cave with a bubble machine?
* George Nader gratuitously taking his shirt off. Nader was apparently on his way to becoming a star in the late 1940s when he got caught doing something he ...umm... wasn't supposed to be doing. He was relegated to tripe like this, but he still had the bod.
* Ro-Man kills the little girl. This was actually pretty strange and out of place. At least one reviewer speculates it was unplanned -the girl who played her was just so annoying that the rest of the crew insisted on getting her off the set any way they could.
* Ro-Man's moment of indecision. "I need guidance, Great One, for the first time in my life, I am not sure." What's confusing him? He's hot for Alice, and it doesn't compute.
* The "surprise" ending.
Ro-Man: (informing his master that he has wiped out the human race) "All are gone now. The way is clear for our people."
Great One: "I want facts, not words!"
Ro-Man: "Fact A! My pulse has been reduced to plus zero zero."
Great One: "Reject! Error! Error!"
Ro-Man: "Error? But Great Guidance, I have proved it! My energizer has scan-checked by square feet! No life above lepidopteron level exists!"
Great One: "My calculator is more accurate! In the twenty-second category there is an error of sixteen billionths!"
Ro-Man: "The Great One is never wrong. Then there are perhaps eight people left on Earth."
Great One: "Not perhaps! Precisely! Find and destroy them!"
Roy: (arguing with Alice, who accuses him of being bossy) "I'm bossy? You're so bossy you should be milked before you come home at night."
Ro-Man: "Calculate your chances! Negative, negative, negative... is there a choice between a painless surrender death and the horror of resistance death? Show yourselves!"
(Uncle John's favorite)
Johnny: "I think you're just a big bully, picking on people smaller than you are!"
Ro-Man: "Now I will kill you."
_____________________________The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader, a fantastic book by the Bathroom Readers' Institute.
Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts.
If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!