Gather ’round, friends with questionable taste, for another edition of Awfully Good, where we celebrate the worst movies ever made! To go with March’s theme, No One Can Hear You Scream, we’re taking a look at Robot Monster. It’s a short, cheap, goofy sci-fi feature starring the worst monster to ever grace the silver screen, but we’ll get there in a second. First, some ground rules: 1) This is a positive place to celebrate terrible movies, and any language like “worst ever,” “bad,” or “punishable by public dismemberment,” should be taken as the highest praise. 2) Don’t go out into space without a space suit, unless you’ve lost a bet. With that out of the way, let’s look at tonight’s feature presentation!
With an estimated budget of $16,000, Robot Monster might be the cheapest movie we’ve ever spotlighted on Awfully Good. And pal, this movie looks cheap. The most obvious concession is the costume for Ro-Man, the robot monster from Robot Monster. Ostensibly an alien creature, Ro-Man is very clearly a gorilla costume with a helmet on top. The effect onscreen is incredible- there’s something charming about a film so low-budget that the costume of the primary antagonist is the kind of thing a kid would put together with five minutes of unsupervised time in a community theatre dressing room. “I’m Ro-Man, Star Gorilla!” Yes you are, tiny idiot, yes you are.
So, Robot Monster begins with a normal human family having a normal human day out by a cave. The son, Johnny, is playing around when, out of nowhere, there’s lightning and thunder! Which isn’t exactly unexplainable, weather happens all the time. The lightning does distract Johnny enough that he trips over a rock and full-on eats it. Credit where it’s due, the little kid does a good job of falling down! I’ve seen theatre majors do a worse job of pretending to fall, and I think that’s because they’re trying to act. You tell a kid to fall down, they’re just gonna fall down. Anyway, then there are dinosaurs. It’s rad as hell! There are two rubber gator-type guys, and they roll around a bunch (like real gators!), and there are also a couple of stop motion triceratops… triceratopses… triceratopi? The guys with the spikes growing out of their faces. Then there’s an explosion! Frame-by-frame, it’s the greatest thirty seconds of cinema history.
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Unfortunately, the rest of the movie isn’t just dinosaurs and explosions. When the dust settles, we come back to Johnny on the ground, who gets up and runs away. Then the Robot Monster from Robot Monster shows up in all his gorilla glory! He’s killed almost everyone on earth, see, and he needs to finish off the survivors before he’s allowed to clock out for the day. There aren’t that many left, and they’re pretty much all together. The bad news is, we’re looking at a loooooot of talking from this point. At one point, Hunky Science Man (George Nader) takes off his shirt, but the only other things that happen are dialog and shots of Ro-Man meandering about the desert. Those parts are enjoyable, because the costume is so dumb, but otherwise it’s “blah blah blah” from characters that we don’t really care about.
“I’m Ro-Man, Star Gorilla!” Yes you are, tiny idiot, yes you are.
There are some fun (and dumb!) twists and turns in the third act, but I refuse to spoil this film for you so I can’t get into it. Sorry! Suffice to say, the movie ends pretty abruptly and stupidly. But wait, there’s a twist! And it’s the worst twist ever, which I hate, and I won’t call it by name but it’s the cheapest cop out in a screenwriter’s bag o’ tricks. But then there’s another twist! If you’re lost at this point, don’t worry. Robot Monster’s over! And coming in at just a hair over an hour, it hasn’t overstayed its welcome. I love it when a movie comes and goes without making a nuisance of itself.
What did you think of Robot Monster? Did you like it? Do you think you could make a better monster costume out of the objects in the room right now? Please, please, please let us know over on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook page! For more horror than you can shake a gorilla costume and a fishbowl at, stay tuned to Nightmare on Film Street.