Robot Monster (1953)

Robot Monster (1953) movie poster

director Phil Tucker
viewed: 06/25/2014

Oh, Robot Monster, how did I fail to have ever seen you?  It’s kind of funny but since I decided to head along this road of watching the “worst movies of all time” alongside my trek of getting through major works of cinema that I’ve never seen, I have to say that I’ve been enjoying the former a bit more overall to an extent.

While there are no definitive lists of either “the best” or “the worst” of all time, I think that the list of worst is a bit more consistent.  I mean, “the best” is a particularly hard to define grouping, very much a matter of taste, and even the lists that are considered the most legitimate, like Sight and Sound’s Top 10, it’s a changing, changeable thing.

The worst films have stood the test of time largely.  And like any of these lists, recent entries tend to take up too much space and have yet to prove themselves, you find yourself going to the core of the classification.  The classics of bad cinema, if you will.

Phil Tucker’s Robot Monster made Medved and Dreyfus’s The Fifty Worst Films of All Time list and still remains on the Wikipedia page of worst films.  That is stamina.

It’s a completely unbaked sci-fi story of an alien invasion of one, a robot monster called Ro-man who has come to slay all Earth people.  Ro-man is a man in a gorilla suit with a sort of robotic headpiece where the gorilla’s head would be.  It is in many ways the exemplar of the lamest monster design in movie history.  And what’s funny is that something so lame can become so iconic as a result.

Ironically iconic.

Clocking in at only 62 minutes, it’s also funny how many extraneous shots of Ro-man walking up and down hills there are.  There is even an “Intermission” which is actually kind of cute.

The title sequence features lots of magazines of the day as the backdrop, which is kind of cool.  But there are also non-sequitur moments spliced in from other films of dinosaurs (both stop-motion and one with an alligator with a fin on its back wrestling a gila monster.)  Both moments get played twice.  And the ending…

Oh, the ending…  It’s all a dream…or is it?  But the best is the three shots in a row of Ro-man appearing from the cave at the very end.  This film was shot in 3-D but why the three times through on this ending is perplexing and also part of why this film is so pleasurably a classic in bad movie-making.  It truly belongs up there with Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).

What can I say, it’s terrible.  I kind of loved it.

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