Robot Monster / Monsters From the Moon (1953)

“I cannot — yet I must. How do you calculate that?”

Robot Monster Poster

Synopsis:
An alien named Ro-Man plots to kill the remaining six Hu-Mans on earth — a mother (Selena Royle), her professor-husband (John Mylong), their two young children (Gregory Moffett and Pamela Paulson), their grown daughter (Claudia Barrett), and Barrett’s boyfriend-scientist (George Nader) — who are protected from his death ray by a neutralizing serum. But when Ro-Man falls for Barrett, he finds his annihilation impulses in conflict.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that this “laughably lousy sci-fi film, made for $20,000 in LA’s Bronson Canyon” “gets more ludicrous as it goes along” — then he spends the rest of his review detailing exactly how inept it is, and essentially dismissing it as outright dreck. Other online reviews (see links below) provide a more detailed skewering, combined with admiration for all the many ways in which the film presumably deserves its bad-movie cult status: Richard Scheib notes that “the cheesiness of its ineptitude provides… an enormous degree of sheer entertainment value”, while DVD Savant argues that it is actually “very entertaining” and will “bring a smile to anyone’s face”. A redeeming perspective of sorts does emerge near the end, when we learn exactly what the entire adventure has been based on, and many aspects — including the jarring incorporation of “stock footage” such as “a lengthy sequence of prehistoric monsters fighting taken from One Million B.C.” — come into somewhat clearer focus. Watch for the infamous “ending in which Ro-Man emerges from a cave three times in succession (the shot is repeated)”, which “may have inspired Edward D. Wood” when making Plan 9 from Outer Space.”

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Countless ludicrously bad elements: costumes, set, storyline, acting, dialogue…
    Robot Monster Still3
    Robot Monster Still1
    Robot Monster Still4

Must See?
Yes, once, simply for its cult infamy. Maybe it’s the type of film that grows on you (and most definitely requires a bad-movie-appreciating crowd to enjoy).

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One Response to “Robot Monster / Monsters From the Moon (1953)”

  1. A once-must, at least, as an enjoyably bad movie that has surprises in enjoyably bad ways.

    First, the other bad news: At a little over an hour (with an intermission!! 😉 ), the film feels longer (which is usually never a good thing) – but that may partly be because it is so talky and the audience is then spending time absorbing a lot of nonsense. The nonsense of it all starts off at a gallop early on. Just when you think nothing is making any sense, however – fear not! – Nader offers up an explanation for everything that has been stumping us early on. Of course, his explanation is a different kind of nonsense but at least everything from then on starts falling into place, sort of.

    One of the weirdest things about this movie is that – oddly – it seems to mean well as entertainment. It’s kind of like a story being told by a storyteller who doesn’t tell stories very well – but is genuinely trying his darnedest to keep your interest.

    Some of the dialogue is terrible – well, a lot of it is. But some of it also suddenly works in a sort of endearing way (if that’s possible). And, considering it’s a dumb movie, the visual and sound effects are not all that terrible (for the budget).

    Biggest shock here is the score – what the hell is Elmer Bernstein, of all people, doing here?! ~and actually gracing the film with a score that really does enhance the film (if that’s possible)?

    Sometimes bad scripts are actually improved upon through bad acting – cause there’s just no other way to do them ‘well’. You couldn’t have something like this performed by top-drawer actors. That would *really* be weird.

    Fave fun bits of dialogue:

    Ro-Man (robot voice): Is there a choice between a painless-surrender death and the-horror-of-resistance death?

    And this playful exchange:

    Johnny: I think you’re just a big bully, picking on people smaller than you are.
    Ro-Man (robot voice, of course) Now I will kill you.

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