Friday, May 23, 2014

Robot Monster = Sob, Tormentor

Note:  This is a review I'm reposting from my Epinions account with a few modifications.

It’s hard to say for certain which movie is the worst.  Many have poor production values but are still entertaining.  Mystery Science Theater 3000 proved that.  Some movies have a good amount of talent and money behind it, yet still fall flat.  Then there are some that have almost nothing going for them.  Robot Monster was just such a movie.

The movie starts with a boy and girl, presumably brother and sister, playing together.  He’s playing alien invaders despite her insistence that they play house.  Finally, they wander off and find two people examining a cave.  That’s when mother comes along and tells her children that it’s nap time, so they go to sleep on their picnic blanket.

For no apparent reason, we get to see some clips of some close-ups of reptiles.  This serves only as a segue to a deserted Earth.  There are only eight surviving humans on the planet, two of which are never seen.  We have the boy and girl from before, their mother, father, older sister and the father’s assistant.  It’s soon explained that Ro-Man has killed everyone as part of an invading force, or so he thinks.

The Great Guidance, Ro-Man’s superior, informs Ro-Man that there are still eight survivors.  (Both characters are played by the same actor wearing a gorilla suit and a diving helmet.  A separate actor also voices both characters.)  It’s up to Ro-Man to hunt down and kill the remaining “hu-mans”.

You wouldn’t think it would be that hard to find and kill eight people, even if they are the last eight people on the planet.  The survivors survived because they all had a serum that was supposed to ward off any sickness.  (The father and his assistant have invented the panacea.)  By dumb luck, Ro-Man happens to be in the same area as the eight survivors.  In fact, the characters often go over to see  Ro-Man, so he could easily walk there.

Of course, the survivors have an electrical device that blocks Ro-Man’s equipment.  He can communicate via magical plastic screens that he can’t put a physical trace on.  Also, all of the survivors leave their little camp at one point, presumably leaving the protection of their device.  Couldn’t Ro-Man see where they left the protective field and at least narrow down where the camp is?  At the very least, he should know which direction they're in.  All Ro-Man does is offer them the chance to surrender or face an “indescribable” death.

Speaking of Ro-Man and The Great Guidance, I don’t think that the guy in the gorilla suit ever talked to the guy doing the voice.  In retrospect, I don’t think he knew that his character even had lines.  All he did was move his arms around in a very humorous way, hoping to look menacing.  His voice was also meant to be menacing, but was laughable at best.

Also, I understand that CGI wasn’t very advanced in the late 50s and you had to have a human play the part, which limits your options.  But a guy in a gorilla suit with a diving helmet?  I’m sure you could find something more menacing to work with.  This was another movie where strings were evident in several places.  (Pay attention to the scene where the two other survivors are supposed taking off in a rocket.)

I understand that Ro-Man has his orders, but the Robot Monster race wants to be rid of humanity because they may pose a threat.  Eight people are not a threat.  Of course, we’re talking about robots, so I suppose that explains why they have to stick to The Plan so closely.  ("There can be no error.")

Another big problem that I figured out early on was the problem of inbreeding.  With eight people left, five of which are already related to each other, you don’t have many mating options.  I’m not saying that they should just give up, but the problem isn’t really even mentioned.  I think it was mentioned that there was a space station, but I wasn’t really clear as to whether or not there were people up there.

What really surprised me is that there’s a 3-D version out there somewhere.  I’m not even sure that it would be worth it except for the bubble machine and the very last scene.  There weren’t many scenes that I felt would have benefited from seeing it in 3-D.

The movie is so lame that I think this qualifies as the lamest that I’ve ever seen.  (When the movie ends, you sit back and think, “Well, yeah.  That would explain it.”)  It’s truly a horribly made movie, but you have to see it to fully understand how horrible it is.  With this movie, a binary ‘Recommended’ option doesn’t quite work.  In the words of Ro-Man, “I cannot, yet I must.  How do you calculate that?” 

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