It’s Strange Movie Sunday – the best day of the week. I’ve taken to visiting the Wikipedia page on the “List of films considered the worst” for inspiration. This week’s selection comes from that illustrious source. “The Robot Monster” is one in a long line of films featuring aliens who want to eradicate the human race. It just happens to involve a robot monster/alien that looks like a shag rug.
Cast of key characters:
- Aforementioned alien whose helmet appears to be made out of a metal bowl and two radio antennae.
- Alien overlord communicating orders from somewhere off-world.
- Human father who’s a scientist with a German accent.
- Human mother – no particularly distinguishing qualities.
- Alice, daughter, young, pretty, exceptional scientist.
- Roy, German accent-scientist’s assistant.
- Little boy – we could call him a little bit of a brat or we could say he’s “spirited.”
- Little girl – likes to play house a lot.
So basically, the little boy is on a picnic with his mother and two sisters. He sneaks off into a cave and encounters a terrifying alien.
Suddenly and inexplicably, the little boy and his family are the only humans left alive. The alien has wiped out the rest of the population with a death ray, but the survivors are immune due to an antibiotic serum invented by the father and Roy. They’re hiding out in a protected headquarters. The alien can’t find them there but is aware of their existence and is trying to hunt them down.
The alien wants to speak to Alice for some reason, but her father and Roy won’t allow her to go. Her little brother once again sneaks away and goes to talk to the alien to discover why he hates them so much. He accidentally gives away the secret of the serum, which puts the alien on a quest to change the makeup of the death ray so it will effectively kill them.
Roy and Alice, who don’t get along in the flirtatious sort of way that indicates they’ll end up together, go out to find the little boy. Suddenly, Roy is accountably shirtless. When he sees the alien coming after him, he picks up Alice and runs away, surely less effective than both of them running on their own two feet.
Roy and Alice are off somewhere outside their hideout. Not surprisingly, they start making out, return to the hideout and tell the rest that they want to get married. The father agrees to marry them. Alice finds some sort of filmy white cloth to use as a veil. Roy is still shirtless.
The marriage is actually sort of bittersweet, as they’re the last humans and are being pretty brave about it.
They go off to have their honeymoon somewhere outside the protection of their headquarters. The little girl comes after them to give them flowers as a present. They tell her to run back quickly but don’t follow her to make sure that actually happens.
The alien catches up with her and strangles her, then attacks Alice and Roy, strangling Roy and carrying Alice away. She’s struggling, but she looks way happier than she’s supposed to. Roy wasn’t effectively strangled and manages to crawl back to the remaining survivors before falling over dead.
The little boy suggests a cunning plan. He’ll act as bait while the father and mother rescue Alice. No word on how the little boy is going to escape.
The alien has a strange connection to Alice and decides he wants to be human, something his alien overlord will not allow. He goes to meet the little boy, as planned, strangles him and is killed by the overlord. Father and mother are seen untying Alice. Perfect stratagem, except for the whole leaving the little boy vulnerable thing.
Then the little boy is being woken up by archeologists he met before going into the cave and his mother and sisters. It was just a dream. Or was it, the audience wonders as the human robot emerges again from the cave and comes at the camera with his arms outstretched. Three times.
This film would be better if so much of it wasn’t spent on the human robot talking to his overlord and the surviving humans blabbing on amongst themselves. The special effects also left a lot to be desired. At one point a rocket blows up, and it looks as if they spliced actual rocket footage with footage of a paper rocket being swung around on fishing line. In the credits, they mention a billion bubble machine, and the filmmakers must have wanted to get their money’s worth because they use it every chance they can – in the cave, in the overlord’s lair. I’m willing to believe that “billion” is not an exaggeration.
The movie also makes you feel like you’ve missed a scene when it jumps from the little boy on a picnic to a world with only a few living humans. It’s supposed to line up with the whole little boy having a dream/maybe it’s real theme, but it just makes the viewer confused. There are better ways to accomplish what they’re trying to do. The actors do manage to act a bit better than the cast of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and at least there are no dancing angels a la “The Music Box” … and no Santa. (See the rest of the Strange Movie Sunday entries if that last sentence is confusing to you.)