107. Robot Monster (1953)

A name that will live in infamy or hilarity, 25 year old Phil Tucker eeked this out in 4 days. $16,000, 3-D, Elmer Bernstein, Robot Monster (1953) lumbers tall with the worst of them. Glen or Glenda (1953), Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957), The Creeping Terror (1964), Monster a Go-Go! (1965), Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), Leonard Maltin said it best, “One of the genuine legends in Holywood - embarrassingly, hilariously awful” and the aftertaste lingers. Laser Torch, Methane Whoopee Cushion, Cumber-Bubble-Bund, Commando Cody, Ro-Tom, Surrealism, Garba"ge Bags. “George Nader. That’s Ralph Nader’s naughty brother. He wrote Safe At Any Speed”, “Claudia Barrett. From the comedy team Grin and Bear It”, “Selena Royale? What a great movie! Wasn’t Woody Allen in that?” “You ever had deja vu Joel?” or “Stop it!”?

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Laser Torch and Invention Exchange.

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Last Warning.

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Trailer to Robot Monster (1953).

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Joe Dante on Robot Monster (1953).

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You Create Us To Suffer.

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Still not as bad as Creature From The Haunted Sea.

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Hey, I watched the Rifftrax version of that recently and it’s… ok, it’s pretty bad, but it’s so ridiculous and knowing it was a Corman slap-something-together special makes it a fun watch.

Back to Ro-Man! I watched this fairly recently and it’s deserving of its place in the bad movie temple. Such a weird fever dream of a movie, but Ro-Man is such a bizarre figure that it’s easy to see why he became such a part of pop-culture. It’s strange that the movie seems to be less known now than before its appearance on MST3K. It’s one of those early episodes where you can’t help but wonder if it would have been better if they’d waited a few seasons to riff it.

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Were MST3K to produce future seasons, Robot Monster (1953) is one of those experiments I believe would shine reworked with either Jonah or Emily as host. So much potential is there a fresh modern take might yield a lot. The show’s travelled a long way since Season 1. Robot Monster might benefit from the journey.

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Film Archivist Bob Furmanek successfully raised $63,837 on August 24 2021 to restore Robot Monster (1953) in 4K. Both a 3D and 2D version will be offered. Once finished, this would qualify Robot Monster to appear good enough to satisfy Joel’s image requirements for new seasons of the show.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/3dfilmarchive/pre-order-robot-monster-on-3-d-blu-ray-and-dvd/description

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But it still wouldn’t be widescreen, which seems to be required outside of shorts.

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This set of Radar Men from the Moon chapters bring up what I consider one of the more inexplicable cliffhanger resolutions. I speak of when the prior chapter concludes with the car the hero is in smashing into an obstacle or going off a cliff and the next one reveals that the hero bailed out. I get that most of the safety features in modern vehicles didn’t exist back then, but is jumping out of a moving car really any better? I’m also skeptical that anyone would have the reflexes needed to open a car door and jump out in time. Then we have the issue of how these serials were meant to be viewed one episode a week. Watching two in a row exposes the weaknesses of the narrative. In this case, Graber’s attempts to obtain cash through illicit means get tedious.

Good thing the feature is such a winner. Robot Monster is one of those films which encapsulates the primary tropes of 1950s alien invasion movies. The alien invader being realized as a guy in a gorilla suit and a diving helmet is visually distinctive. And it’s all because, with a budget of $16,000 (chump change even for 1953), director Phil Tucker couldn’t afford a guy in a proper robot suit as he wanted. It’s for that reason that it was almost passed over. Thanks to being regularly screened by late night horror hosts across the nation, the Brains saw it as too obvious a choice. Were it not for difficulties in obtaining rights to other films, we might never have had this breakout performance. And what a performance it was. The inherent goofiness of the production seems to have really gotten their creative juices flowing. Combined with the increased riffing rate, this is arguably the best episode of the first season.

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You are right. I’d love if Joel made an exception owing to the film’s history and past appearance on MST. Yet the aesthetic of the Netflix and Gizmoplex eras precludes that. Appearance isn’t everything and infrequently stepping outside that box once a season might be worthwhile. Otherwise worthy movie subjects could slip through the cracks.

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I am happy to have been part of that Kickstarter.

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Same here. I also jumped into Bob’s Jack and the Beanstalk (1952) Kickstarter and Ben Solovey’s Monstrosity (1963) aka The Atomic Brain Restoration. Film preservation is important to me. Silents, Early Talkies, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, B Movies. What MST3K did for me was expand my horizons to what most people dismiss. Inexpensive genre pictures are part of our heritage and I want to thank Joel and Best Brains on curating these films and exposing them to generatipns of new fans. The same fans who then back these restoration efforts to preserve these pics for all time.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/manos/the-atomic-brain-4k-restoration

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/3dfilmarchive/help-restore-abbott-and-costellos-jack-and-the-beanstalk/description

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Elmer Bernstein’s score to Robot Monster (1953).

This is the movie! Mst3K hadn’t done any notoriously famously bad movies up to this point. But this one proved they could. Manos? No problem! Robot Holocaust? Same! I wish they’d done Plan 9 from outer Space. But maybe season 14? Nothing was out of the question after this classic!

FYI, Phil Tucker, (the director) tried to commit suicide after this movies release. And the brutal reviews.

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How many other productions have you seen that use clips from this movie? I see a one-second clip in the opening scenes for Svengoolie every week.

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Would you contribute to a FAPS Kickstarter?

There was also how his sketchy backers cheated him out of his share of the profits (made a million at the box office, which is pretty good for a $16,000 flick.).

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I’m actually glad they didn’t. It’s too famous as a bad movie. They tackled other Ed Wood and that was fine.

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