ROBOT MONSTER ** USA 1953 Dir: Phil Tucker. 66 mins
The 1950s were a great decade for science fiction fans what with the likes of The Thing From Another World (1951), Creature From The Black Lagoon (1958) and THEM! (1954) being released in cinemas. Though as with any decade of film in amongst the greats released are those that are questionable in quality, which brings us to the 1953 film ROBOT MONSTER.
ROBOT MONSTER centres on the monstrous Ro-Man attempting to annihilate the last family alive on Earth, but finds himself falling for their beautiful daughter.
Clocking in at just over an hour it does stretch its thin plot out which revolves the small family unit of a mother, elder daughter (Alice) and 2 young children a boy (Johnny) and a girl (Carla), having a lovely picnic in the dreary looking Bronson Canyon. Little Johnny runs off playing as a spaceman and while playing he comes across two archaeologists at a cave entrance. Johnny points out that the painting they are studying looks a bit like a robot but before the conversation can go more indepth the family unit come looking for Johnny. Once he is found the family go off to have a nap near their picnic area but Johnny soon wakes up and rushes back to the cave but unfortunately has a fall knocking him unconscious.
Johnny wakes up later (albeit with different clothes on) and we discover that the world is not what it used to be, we are now in an apocalyptic world where the fearsome Ro-Man is clearing human civilization from Earth as ordered by the Ro-Men’s leader the Great Guidance. Now only 6 humans on Earth (plus 2 we never see) stand in the way of the Ro-Men and the plans but when Ro-Man meets the stunning looking Alice (Claudia Barrett) he starts to have independent thought and decides he will take Alice as his own. He kills off several of the other family members but when the Great Guidance realises that Ro-Man is not following orders he kills Ro-Man. As the film comes to a close we realise it was all a dream from Johnny’s unconscious mind and all is well in the world. But wait…what is that coming from the depths of the cave, could it be…a Ro-Man?
Often deemed as “the worst movie ever”, ROBOT MONSTER has gained a cult following from late night showings of the film and perhaps the films original poster is the greatest in getting people to pay their hard earned cash to potentially feel overwhelmed at what they see on the screen. 3-D has always been a fad and ROBOT MONSTER was originally released during the peak of the original fad where anybody would go to watch a film just because it was in 3-D. While there are elements which will work in 3-D it is mostly unnecessary for this film. Ro-Man himself is hilarious to look at, basically a Gorilla suit with a bargain bin space helmet with TV aerials stuck into it.
Despite the films questionable quality it does give film fans something to enjoy on a trivia basis such as being one of the earliest works that Elmer Bernstein worked on as a composer, though I am sure we can all agree that Ghostbusters (1984) is the highlight of his career. Eagle-eyed viewers will also spot footage from other movies spliced into ROBOT MONSTER such as dinosaur segments from One Million B.C. (1940) and The Lost World (1925). Why it is there makes sense (somewhat) later in the film. ROBOT MONSTER was supposedly shot in four days which in the barren looking land of Bronson Canyon is a fair feat on its own.
As always we rate films by 5 stars here and just for the film itself it gets 2 stars but this new Blu-ray/DVD release gets 5 stars from this reviewer. As mentioned previously while the movie itself isn’t the best one to show someone the quality of 1950’s science fiction, BayView Entertainment and 3-D Film Archive have gone all out with not only giving the film a superb 3-D restoration (the release comes with a pair of 3D-glasses as well) but is also loaded with over 2 hours of bonus features making this a must buy for any fan of B-movies.
Review by Peter ‘Witchfinder‘ Hopkins
ROBOT MONSTER is out now on Blu-ray (Region Free) and DVD (Region FREE) in the USA from BayView Entertainment.
Also available to order on Blu-ray (Region FREE) and DVD (Region FREE) now at: