The Robot Monster has been sent to Earth as the advance party of an impending invasion. Ordered by The Great One to capture several humans, the Robot Monster becomes confused once it learns more about humans.
George Nader ... Roy
Claudia Barrett ... Alice
Selena Royle ... Mother (as Selena Royale)
John Mylong ... The Professor
Gregory Moffett ... Johnny
Pamela Paulson ... Carla
George Barrows ... Ro-Man the Monster / (2nd role) Great Guidance
John Brown ... Ro-Man / Great Guidance (voice)
It's an old theme, and one particularly pertinent to the cold war. Aliens conquer the earth, and earthlings are too small minded to put aside their grievances, so all is lost. However, in the case of Robot Monster, the aliens are big guys in ape suits and old-school scuba gear (odd concept of a robot, IMO), and all the action in the film appears to be either stock warfare footage or scraps of bad sci-fi films found on the cutting room floor, spliced in with some pathetic burning miniature rocket ships, and all not even loosely tied into the "plot".
George Nader, who helped Frankie Avalon ruin the masterpiece of garbage cinema "Million Eyes of Sumuru", is the star, but the only people who act in this film are Claudia Barrett and John Brown (the Ro-Man), and even so, they're not very good at it. As a man well aware of his limits, Nader doesn't usually bother with acting. Like most of the cast members of Robot Monster, he simply recites his lines and adds a smile, a chuckle, or a gesture here and there.
It gets worse. I am a professional archaeologist, and though I appreciate the credit this film gives my profession, I sincerely doubt that any archaeologist will ever develop a serum that makes humans immune to every possible form of disease. Furthermore, I have ethical concerns about the fact that he tests it on HIS ENTIRE FAMILY, even if doing so allowed them to be the only survivors of the alien holocaust brought about by Ro-man! I guess this makes Robot Monster a pioneering cyberpunk film since the entire plot takes place after the destruction of most of earth's life. Most of the plot is incoherent, utterly ridiculous and unexplained.
You continue to watch because, despite the mediocre cinematography, worse than mediocre directing and script, you want to see just how much worse it can get. In that sense, this film is no disappointment. It gives Manos a run for its money, but in the end does no harm, and its a lot more fun, so I gave it a two (the extra star is for being harmless). This is an amazingly goofy and silly film, comparable in its absurdity to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Go for it if you're into that kind of thing, or if you harbor a secret desire to see George Nader get married without a shirt in a ceremony performed by a German archaeologist.
Robot Monster is the Citizen Kane of abysmal 1950s science fiction. It has everything modern viewers have come to expect from movies of this genre: a laughable plot line, completely improbable situations, ludicrous acting, unbelievably awful special effects, cheapjack production values, gaffes galore, and examples of how to fail miserably at every major aspect of motion picture production. For good measure it also sports easily the most ridiculous "monster" in the history of film! The plot is so thin that it can't even be stretched comfortably over the film's 66-minute running time without generous padding. A family, headed by the requisite German-accented scientist and including a "hot" chick, a "manly" guy, and two cutesy-poo kids wander through the desert after Earth has been annihilated by a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a plastic diving helmet. That's basically it, except for some nonsensical pap about an immunity serum. When the guy in the monkey suit is far and away the best actor in the picture, you've got a MAJOR problem--but compared to John Mylong as "The Professor," Ro-Man is Laurence Olivier. You could drive a semi through the plot holes. The dialogue clangers pile up like horseshoes on George H.W. Bush's lawn. You feel embarrassed for director Phil Tucker, and almost ashamed to laugh at this movie when you learn that the bad reviews of the film drove him to attempt suicide. The experience of watching this film, even with its abnormally short running time, is so excruciating that it feels like you've wasted five hours of your life. It's so bad that after a while you begin to marvel at its very badness, and ultimately you come away awe-stricken.
I call it a masterpiece because under normal circumstances only a talented and determined genius could make a film that sinks as low and violates so many rules of film-making, storytelling and suspension of disbelief as this one does. It takes real talent to make Ed Wood look like Stanley Kubrick, but Phil Tucker pulled it off. For that alone he deserves a place in film history.
Fans of bad movies probably know all about this film. However, if you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing this infamous laugh-riot, allow me to explain...
The film opens with an arrangement of Sci-fi pulp magazines behind the opening credits, so you're obviously expected to throw your common sense radar switch firmly to the off position before viewing commences. Then we're introduced to a family, for some reason having a picnic in a quarry.
The young boy takes a tumble, and when he recovers, he finds Ro-man, conquerer of Earth and destroyer of mankind, hiding in a cave.
Ro-man. Now how would you describe Ro-man? How about a man (George Barrows) in a Gorilla suit, probably left over from the forties, wearing an old-fashioned diving helmet with the visor blacked out, and a TV ariel sticking out of the top of his head? There are many legends of course about director Phil Tucker running out of cash and, unable to finish off the spacesuit, simply used an old leftover Gorilla custom. Let's face it however, would 'Robot Monster' be the cult favourite it is today if he had found the funds to finish the costume?
We discover the truth soon after first encountering Ro-Man; that Earth was attacked by this alien simian, who wiped out all but eight of the population. We know because we Ro-Man's gleefully reveals the plot to his superior, 'The Great One' (also George Barrows in the same costume) over a super hi-tech communications device. I write hi-tech communications devise, but what what I actually mean is an old 40s radio on a wooden table attached to a bubble-making machine.
Somehow, in the aftermath of Ro-man's destruction, prehistoric creatures were unleashed (yes, it's the old 'One Million B.C.' footage reeled out for about the 1,500th time; and there's even footage from the antiquated 'lost World' of 1925!). Our poor family has to content with all these dangers, but they are helped by the doc's anti-everything serum, which protects them from Ro-man's deadly Calcinator Ray.
If this all sounds rather childish, you're right, but this is fused with some quite unexpected adult themes. Ro-man murders the doc's young daughter, and then plans to mate with her older sister. You'd think that the intelligent and beautiful heroine of the piece (Claudia Barrett) would shudder from this evil, and probably smelly beast, but she doesn't exactly shun him, even remarking 'Oh Ro-Man, you're so strong' as he drags her across the barren wastes to his cave.
Despite all this, 'Robot Monster' does seem to drag a little in the middle (not an easy accomplishment for a film only just over a hour long!), especially after the novelty of old fish-tank head wears thin. But if you love/like/can tolerate bad movies, you really do owe it to yourself to see this; it lacks quality of any kind.
ROBOT MONSTER is one of the most hilariously awful films ever made but it's also a real gem and has something that most films of this type don't: it's actually entertaining in a weird little way.
The film's almost incomprehensible plot revolves around Ro-Man, a gorilla wearing a space helmet who arrives on Earth and wipes out most of mankind except for one family. He spends the remainder of the film stupidly wondering around scenic Bronson Cannon (where years later, the equally hilariously awful EEGAH! was shot) and having bizarre conversations with his leader the "Great Guidance", also played by George Barrows in gorilla suit and diving helmet. Great Guidance gets cheesed with Ro-Man, however, when he falls head over heels in love with Alice, the eldest daughter of the family and so blows everything up.
Almost everything that could possibly be wrong with a film is present here. The production values are pitiful and everything is as shoddy as the film's "monster". There is more stock footage present here than in an Ed Wood movie. The dialogue is extraordinarily inane. The acting is awful. The characters are so wooden you could build a house from them. But what sets this film apart from say, MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, is that this film is so hilariously bad as to be quite entertaining. It's the most fun of the grade-Z films and contains numerous hilariously bizarre moments from Ro-Man's bizarre, almost Shakespearean conservations with "Great Guidance" to the hilarious sexism of the father and boyfriend characters toward Alice. It even kills off the young kids, something completely unheard in the 1950s (and still very uncommon). Yes, ROBOT MONSTER is an incredibly bad movie, but it's a fun bad movie and I love every moment of it.