Friday, May 1, 2009
"Robot Monster brings you an actual preview of the devastating forces of our future!!"
Haven't done anything on movies in a minute, it's so easy to get distracted by Internet-enabled man-gimps...so I have to share with my devoted subjects and serfs possibly one of the most baffling and bizarre movies I've ever seen: 1953 B-movie, Robot Monster. I would say it's MST3K fodder, but it's even weirder--in a bleak and disturbing way--than your average Z-grade science fiction film from the 1950s.
While I won't say Robot Monster is the first truly post-apocalyptic film, it's certainly one of the first in a now rather common genre. The film features the last family on Earth, complete with wacky and foreign sounding mad scientist father figure, doddering "mother", precocious youngsters, and hot younger couple, who all wander around the wasteland of Planet Earth--in this case some state park in California probably--seemingly unaffected by the death-ray and dinosaur--genocide at the hands of the evil alien robots the "Ro-Mans" who seek death to all "Hu-mans." The "Ro-Man" stalking them throughout looks like a gorilla wearing an old school diving helmet, and most of the time all I could think about was how goddamn hot it must have been inside there, considering the mind-numbing repetition the "filmmakers" employ of the "Ro-man" walking up and down the same fucking hill and in and out of the same cave over and over again.
Watching this movie is an odd mix of jaw-dropping amazement and catatonic stupor and boredom, as the quality of the acting and film making is ludicrously bad, yet the psychology and flat-out weirdness on display is simply too bizarre to ignore. Throughout the film this "family", who lives in what looks like the foundation of a house that has been used on a nuclear test site, talk about things like going on vacation (where?) or having the perpetually shirtless "Roy" marry their eldest daughter, a scientist, who is perpetually being tied up, by both the Ro-man and her family. At no point do they consider the complete and utter hopelessness of their situation, Roy and his new bride even talk of going on a honeymoon, which ends up being them having it away in some shrubs before being attacked by the Ro-Man who tries to rape sis--or as the preview suggests "sultry beauty in the clutches of a half-crazed monster." Oh this is after he kills the little girl, in what he says is a "simple matter of strangulation."
Here is the first ten minutes of the film. The real fun starts at around 5:25, when the little boy awakes from a nap following a "picnic" with his family that looks like the Jonestown massacre only to find the Ro-Man Dinosaur Holocaust. You'll note the complete randomness of the dinosaurs, or in this case what looks like some kind of caiman and gila monster locked in mortal combat in what I'm sure violates some kind of animal cruelty law. There are a ton of bubbles too.
The whole movie is now public domain so you can watch the whole thing if you dare...but I'm just going to skip to the end with the Ro-Man Robot Rape and Dino-apocalypse.
Watching this movie all the way through felt like being on drugs, it's the cinematic equivalent of Special K, so hopefully exposure to small doses will avoid the kind of slack-jawed stupor I experienced. It's only 60 minutes long, but it feels like sooo much more. Truly a gem amongst gems.