A Picnic on the Moon:
"Moon monsters launch attack against Earth! How can science meet the menace of astral assassins? New Science Fiction Thrills!"
Starring George Nader, John Mylong, and Claudia Barrett
Written by Wyott Ordung
Directed by Phil Tucker
Robot Monster is up there with Plan 9 From Outer Space as being truly awful, though some of Ed Wood's other movies surpass this one. This movie was originally presented in
When I started my collection of bad movies, I didn't know I had Robot Monster. It was taped perhaps ten or twelve years ago off satellite TV, and then forgotten. As a result, I never actually saw the movie until after most of the others I have. I also tend not to read reviews of movies I don't have (it ruins the surprises), so I knew only the most basic facts about the film; director attempted suicide, guy in gorilla costume with funny helmet. I found the movie in my basement, and with delight I sat down to watch it. Boy, was I in for it. Let's begin. There's no introduction, just the credits immediately. The title 'Robot Monster' appears as a bunch of goofy looking letters that probably stuck right out of the screen. There are a bunch of nobodies in the credits. Elmer Bernstein did the music, another bad movie that he just couldn't stay away from. I also noticed Jack Rabin's name under visual effects. This guy was also associated with Cat-Women of the Moon, among other bad movies. Then I saw the credit for "Automatic Billion Bubble Machine", and I knew I was in serious trouble.
We open our story with a young boy named Johnny playing spaceman in a field. He's got the whole spaceman helmet and toy raygun and everything, and he's blasting his imaginary alien foes. He approaches his sister, a young girl named Carla, and declares her disintegrated. She's blasé about that, and wants to play house with him. She's very preoccupied with playing house, as we shall see. The boy blows some bubbles, and the two of them leave to blast some more aliens.
They leave the field, and enter a ravine or (very) dry riverbed, with small rocks here and there and little in the way of vegetation. There, the children discover a cave with two archaeologists inside. The younger one (George Nader) is hammering at the cave wall, and the older one (John Mylong) is sitting and inspecting something. The boy approaches them and says that they must die. I wondered if the kid was a Creationist who objected to the study of anything older than a few thousand years. The old man invites the boy to sit on his lap, and he explains what they're doing in the cave. I would teach my son never to sit on a strange man's lap, but never mind. The old man says in a strangely fake European accent that the younger man is removing a drawing that was painted on the wall of the cave by prehistoric humans. I thought cave paintings were to be found deep inside caves, but never mind. The old man humors the kid and asks if they can be friends, and the kid reluctantly agrees.
We hear a woman shouting for the kid, and she finds him in the cave. Where's Carla? Here, we are introduced to two more characters, Martha, the boy's mother, and Alice, the boy's much older sister. Mom insists that Johnny return with her to their picnic and have a nap as promised. The young archaeologist says that he had to take afternoon naps until he was 14 years old. I was busy after lunch at school when I was 14, but never mind that.
The family returns to their picnic blanket, and it's really quite a scenic area they chose. It's a quarry! It looks like the surface of Mars or the Moon, with rocks and boulders everywhere. There's no grass, no trees, no plants at all. I half expected to see a bulldozer nearby, working on a building or something. Anyway, everybody settles down. Johnny wishes his dad were alive, and if his mom ever remarried, Johnny wishes his new father would be a scientist like the guys in the cave. Mom only seems to be half-paying attention to her son as he brings up what could be painful memories. They all go to sleep in the quarry.
Johnny wakes up later, and everyone else is still asleep. He gets up, and slinks off back to the cave. He approaches this cave, but then we see a weird flashy negative film effect, and the kid falls over. We get a shot of a sparkler in the sky (perhaps a meteor) rushing at us, and then we cut to 33 seconds of various scenes from the films One Million B.C. and The Lost World
Allow me to explain a little bit about these movies. One Million B.C. was a movie made in the 1940 about dinosaurs and cavemen and the prehistoric world in general. Featured in this movie are baby alligators with fins and horns taped to them so as to make them look like dinosaurs, fighting each other. Clearly, One Million B.C. predates the Humane Society. Next, the other movie used in Robot Monster is The Lost World. This 1925 film also features dinosaurs, but these ones are of the stop-motion variety. For some odd reason, some scenes from these two films were taken and used in Robot Monster. I shall endeavor to point them out to you as we go along.
Back to the movie at hand. Johnny wakes up, and I saw he was wearing different clothes, and his toy gun had changed. I assumed that this was some mistake, but once I saw the end, I realized it was a hint to the movie's Surprise Ending!! At the entrance of the cave now stands a small, cheap looking table with some antiquated radio equipment on it. The Automatic Billion Bubble Machine is also on this table, making quite a voluminous cloud of bubbles. That's because all good radios need bubbles of soapy water in the air to enhance reception. I wonder what it looked like in 3D. Johnny looks at the stuff for a token moment, then goes up to the cave wall and starts drawing something. We get another weird flashy negative film effect, and the boy runs to hide. It's now that we see for the first time, Ro-Man, emerging from the darkness in the cave.
Need I describe Ro-Man's appearance? Look up 'Robot Monster' on Google and you'll see. For those who don't have the inclination and who haven't seen the movie, I'll do my best to do Ro-Man justice. Basically, he's a big lumbering gorilla, wearing a silver diving helmet with two long rabbit-ear antennae coming out the top. The gorilla costume is pretty bad, and the helmet has some minor irregularities in it, which suggests that it was made of plastic. He's the greatest robot in film history. I don't even know if he's a robot, or a monster. Maybe he's like the Borg, part robotic and part biological. Anyway, Ro-Man looks around for a moment, and then goes over to a television-like screen he has set up by the entrance of the cave. In my copy, I couldn't tell what this screen was made of, but I've been told that it is made of unpainted plywood. Good gravy. Anyway, Ro-Man fiddles around the some controls, and we see images on his screen: a starfield, fake asteroids, a planet, some electrical equipment, and finally another Ro-Man. This one is seated next to some electrical equipment, including an electrical arc generator, because we all know how evil arcs of electricity are. This Ro-Man on the screen holds a long stick that he periodically waves in front of the camera, presumably to wow the audience. The two Ro-Men start talking:
Ro-Man: "Extension Ro-Man XJ2, reporting to Guidance Ro-Man. I salute you."Why gravity would delay the equivalent of a phone call, I don't know. Ro-Man explains to his leader (and to us) that he used his "Calcinator Beam" on humanity, destroying some of our cities. At first, the humans (or hu-mans, as he says it) attacked each other thinking it was an intra-Earth matter, but by the time we realized it was an alien attack, it was too late. We tried to fight back, but we couldn't beat Ro-Man's superior weaponry. Guidance Ro-Man is not terribly impressed by such an amazing feat, and Ro-Man says that all humans have been exterminated on Earth. Guidance cries error, and that according to his better computer (or computator, as he calls it), there are still some humans:
"In the 22nd category, there is an error of sixteen billionths!"Okay there, that makes sense. The Guidance Ro-Man speaks very dramatically, using his hands a lot and waving his stick around a lot, I guess to emphasize the 3D nature of the film. Ro-Man interprets Guidance's findings as meaning that there are only eight people left on the entire planet. His mission is to destroy them. Ro-man tunes out, and gets up to adjust his bubble machine. Then he retreats back to the cave, perhaps to think and contemplate about what he's doing in such an awful film. Johnny starts following Ro-Man into the cave, but gets scared off by the flashy effect and runs away.
We cut to a shot of a concrete or stone wall strung with some arcing wires. That's a sign of a poor electrician, isn't it? The old professor from earlier in the film is pacing around inside the wall, and sees Johnny approaching from outside. He helps the boy in, and Johnny's mother from earlier yells at him never to leave the walls of their house without their permission. The professor, who is in actuality named George and is Johnny's father, tells Johnny that Ro-Man has exterminated everyone. George pronounces Ro-Man as 'Roman' in his fake accent. Apparently, when they're inside the wall (which I believe used to be the wall of the basement before the upper levels of the house were destroyed by Ro-Man), Ro-Man cannot see them or hear them. The arcing wires deflect Ro-Man's "death rays" from the house. However, if anything is said or done outside the walls, Ro-Man will find them. Johnny alerts his parents that Ro-Man is nearby, working in a cave. Johnny explains that he was drawing a picture of the destruction of humanity so there'd be a record of how it happened when he saw Ro-Man appear. The parents are nervous, since Ro-Man is so close. They figure he senses them. Johnny suggests that they kill him, but George assures him that all the armies of the world failed to do that. But Ro-Man is obviously a gorilla! Just destroy his habitat, that'll take care of him! Alice is there as well, and she suggests that they could find Ro-Man's weak spot. Johnny leaves to get a drink, and George is nervous. Alice wonders if they're the last humans on Earth, and if Ro-Man is "calculating closer and closer." George doesn't think they're the last ones, but communication outside the house is impossible. They have a viewscreen-type thingy as well, but if they use it, Ro-Man will hone in on the signal and find them. Alice then raises the possibility of getting help from the human soldiers up on the "Space Platform", but again she's shot down by George. The viewscreen would give them away.
Speak of the Devil! Just then, their viewscreen starts acting up. They think it's the space platform, and they rush over. However, it's Ro-Man calling. Odd, Ro-Man seems to have their phone number (or whatever), but he doesn't know where they live? Ro-Man sees Martha, George, Alice, Carla, and Johnny, and assumes that they are the last five people on Earth. However, the family knew of a man named Roy who was still alive, but Ro-Man's analysis now counts him as dead. Roy says that he couldn't have developed the serum without Roy, and Alice starts bawling:
"It seems silly after all the terrible things that have happened... to go to pieces over one miserable... egotistical... impossible guy! Oh Roy!"Ro-Man watches this silly display, and teases the family with images of explosions and ruined cities. Ooooh, special effects! There's one shot of a city supposedly racked with small explosions, and it's a badly done sequence. Ro-Man is proud, and says there's no escape for them. He tunes out, and Martha bleakly turns to go. Here we see why she should not wear a backless dress. Yikes. Martha wants to try and reason with Ro-Man, but George says that Ro-Man would hone in on the viewscreen and kill them all:
"If Ro-Man wants us, he shall calculate us."We cut to Ro-Man, heading back into the cave. We see the young archaeologist from before, in a ripped t-shirt, slinking around the cave. The man, Roy, tries tampering with the radio equipment, but Ro-Man comes back out. Roy hides. Ro-Man fixes the radio, and calls Guidance. Ro-Man tells his boss that he's unsure, and needs help. Guidance chastises Ro-Man, and Ro-Man tells Guidance that he only saw five humans at the house, but there are eight. Ro-Man doesn't understand why he can't find them all with his "directional beam." Ro-Man then says that he will use physical means to kill them since the calcinator beam doesn't seem to have an effect on these eight people, and Guidance gives Ro-Man a 24-hour deadline to finish this mission. Ro-Man tunes out and leaves. Roy hesitates, and runs off.
Back at the house (or what's left of it), the family sleeps. They hear Roy trying to get in, and think it's Ro-Man. They're prepared to kill themselves, but they're delighted to see Roy entering. They're confused as to why Roy is alive and why Ro-Man didn't sense him. Roy says there are two others alive, people named Jason and McCloud. Roy also believes that the reason Ro-Man can't kill them is because of the father's serum. You see, George and Roy worked together to invent an antibiotic serum that protected people against every single disease known to man. What a silly notion. Whoever wrote this movie put no thought into what he/she was writing. Anyway, after it was invented, George tested it on himself, on Roy, Jason, McCloud, and his family. WTF?! What scientist would test an experimental vaccine on his entire family?! It seems that this serum also makes them invisible to Ro-Man and immune to his death ray. The electric wire thingy around the perimeter of the house does nothing. Furthermore, Roy says that a rocket carrying shipments of the serum is going to take off in two days for the Space Platform so that everyone there can be immunized.
Unfortunately, Roy couldn't warn the Space Platform because Ro-Man was about. The Space Platform will see the rocket coming, think it's Ro-Man, and destroy it. I asked why would Ro-Man use a rocket? Didn't he teleport down to Earth in the beginning of the movie? Nobody answered me. They'll have to inform the Space Platform about this rocket, and that means that Roy and Alice have two days to rewire the viewscreen so that Ro-Man can't intercept the transmission. George notes the complexities of the job, and Alice makes fun of Roy:
Alice: "And if I only had a decent assistant who could take orders instead of trying to be the boss."Ouch, I'm really hurting. He apologizes for his brittle insult, and they agree to work together.
We are now presented with a really stupid 39-second long close-up of their work. They're working with the Mother of all Soldering Irons, trying to rewire a bunch of circuit boards that are supposed to have come from the viewscreen. We see their hands manipulating this unwieldy iron, and a mess of circuits and other electronic stuff. He hits on her, she complains, she whines, and at some point she can't continue because her hands are shaking too much. At that point, Johnny points out that they've been working on it for two whole days, and Alice seems shocked that 48 hours have gone by. Did she miss the two sunsets that would have passed while she worked? George says that the rocket must have taken off a dawn. Alice is dejected, but Roy consoles her. It was an impossible task to begin with.
Back at the cave, Ro-Man activates his viewer, and calls the family. He now sees six humans. Alice says quietly to the others that Ro-Man doesn't know about the other two, but Ro-Man hears her, so she confirmed Guidance's number. Was that a secret that she blew, or did she say that on purpose? I got the impression it was a secret that the dummy blew. In any event, it doesn't matter, because Ro-Man has found the rocket. We see stock footage of a V2 takeoff, and then we get a shot of the Space Platform that everyone was talking about.
What is the Space Platform? Why, it's a model rocket on a stick! It is emitting sparks out the back and flying in a very rough circle. It also makes the sounds of a prop plane. The scene is very smoky, perhaps an attempt to mask the visible hand, arm, and shoulder of the guy holding the stick! I was laughing at this point in the movie. Ro-Man says he will destroy the rocket, and begins an eight-second countdown. We then see a brief shot of Guidance (a.k.a. The Great One) thrusting his hands into the camera to destroy the rocket personally. I thought this was Ro-Man's job, but never mind. The rocket and the Space Platform are "atomized". The only reason the Space Platform wasn't destroyed earlier was because it would have been a convenience for Ro-Man's race of Ro-Men. There's one scene where the Space Platform is exploding (I use the term loosely), and during the explosion, the hand and arm of the effects guy are very easy to see. Ro-Man is happy, gloating that the human population has now collapsed from two billion to six.
At this point, I paused to think. In real life, someone at Mission Control actually launches the rocket. This means that either Jason or McCloud were on the rocket, and not both. So really, there are seven people left. Of course, this is all conjecture. Anyway, Ro-Man promises to kill the family painlessly if they surrender to him in one hour, and again reaffirms that there is absolutely no infinitesimally small sliver of a chance that they have any possible hope whatsoever. He then tunes out. Carla asks why Ro-Man obviously doesn't like them, and Martha tries pushing George to try and make peace with the quite unreasonable robot threatening to eradicate them in horrible ways. Their food is almost all gone (as if the Ro-Men will feed them), and they can't possibly harm the Ro-Men. George refuses to surrender, but he's willing now to talk to Ro-Man and negotiate something, if the viewscreen was to be modified by Alice and Roy.
Here we have another 13 seconds of circuit board work, with close-ups of the monster soldering iron and the hands of Alice and Roy as they work. They bicker about wiring.
We cut to Ro-Man adjusting his radio equipment, and standing at his viewscreen. The family calls, but Ro-Man can't seem to hone in on them this time. Ro-Man thinks they're calling to surrender, but the family tries to gain the upper hand, saying that they can wait forever, and Ro-Man will never find them.
Ro-Man: "None shall escape! I shall find a way to rid this Earth-planet of hu-mans!"George refuses to give up and tries to appeal to Ro-Man's humanity by introducing his family. I think you'd have better luck trying to make a bargain with a bulldozer. We learn that George and Martha have been married for twenty-three years. Ro-Man points out that women bear children and must be destroyed. George shows Ro-Man all his children, and Johnny sticks his tongue out at Ro-Man. Oh, that loveable kid, introducing innocent humor to such a tense situation! Ro-Man accuses the boy of impertinence. Ro-Man and George argue, and Ro-Man says that humans are barbaric. To counter this, Ro-Man meets Roy and is told that he helped invent a serum to cure disease, which is apparently a noble, non-barbaric thing to do.
Ro-Man asks to see Alice (rather, Ahh-liss) again, and we see her. She wants "peace, but peace with honour." Was this not a Nixon campaign slogan?! Did Richard Nixon, disgraced and late ex-president actually watch Robot Monster for political insight?!
Ro-Man: "I will talk with the girl. It is not in The Plan, but although I cannot verify it, I feel that she will understand."George insists that, since he's the father and head of the household, he should meet with Ro-Man, but Ro-man is intent on meeting Alice, though he doesn't understand why. They arrange to meet in one hour, alone. They tune out.
Back at the house, George refuses to allow his daughter to meet Ro-Man, but she really wants to do it. She tells us what she thinks in this most pompous and pretentious soliloquy:
"You mean there are certain things nice girls don't do? Even if it means man's millions of years of struggle from the sea, the slime, the fight to breathe air, to stand erect, to think, to conquer nature! You mean all this should be stopped cold by a doting father and a jealous tutor?"Roy joins George in sounding his objections, and Alice responds:
"You'd rather just have us go out of business, is that it? Letter returned, no forwarding address? Can't you see you're being sentimental idiots, letting your emotions run away with you?!"Despite these vocalizations, Roy and the rest of the family subdue Alice, but in the melee, Johnny runs off.
We see a 33-second long shot of Ro-Man walking very awkwardly up a hillside, with some occasional busts of that negative flashy effect. Ro-Man walks very gingerly, with his forearms held up as if he's on the verge of losing his balance.
Alice is tied up in a corner, but then they realize Johnny is gone, probably to meet Ro-Man. George criticizes his family. Remind us who tested an experimental pharmaceutical on their own family. Alice and Roy volunteer to find Johnny, and they go. George will set off a flare upon Johnny's safe return.
We get another ridiculous shot of Ro-Man struggling to climb a hill. Some robot, first getting all lovey-dovey over a hu-man, and then having problems going up a hill. I guess it's that gravity. 0.7652 makes all the difference, after all.
Johnny runs and looks around for Ro-Man. They meet at some ruins, where Ro-Man and Alice were supposed to meet. Ro-Man asks why the boy is there, and Johnny replies that Alice is tied up. Ro-Man explains to Johnny that he had to eradicate humanity before we became too strong and threatened to overpower them in a future, hypothetical war. He then proceeds to use that flashy negative effect on Johnny. I presume this effect is Ro-Man's death ray. However, Johnny is unaffected by it. He then describes Ro-Man as looking like a "pooped-out pinwheel." Ouch, this movie is full of deep insults. Ro-Man is confused, and says his father must truly be a brilliant man. Johnny proudly tells Ro-Man about the serum and how they never got sick, even when given pills that contained disease. Good Gravy, surely that is illegal and something George should have been arrested for! Ro-Man is on to something, and asks if the two in the rocket had this serum as well. Johnny hastily says yes, but realizes right away that he said too much and covers his mouth. YOU STUPID KID!!! No wonder George was trying to kill him, first with an untested medicine and then with disease pills! That part of the scene was cringe-inducing, at least for me. It was so badly done.
Ro-Man says he will "calculate the spectrum dust in the calcinator death ray to counteract this antibiotic." Johnny realizes he's in trouble, and runs off. Ro-Man shakes his fist at the boy, just like a hu-man, and then he lumbers towards the camera (3D!!)
We see a shot of Roy and Alice looking for Johnny. Roy, of course, takes off his shirt and they walk around. They hear the death ray (it does have a distinctive sound), and they hide in a ditch. To reach this ditch, Roy picks Alice up and carries her. We will see Alice being carried a lot through this movie. They hide, and Ro-Man walks right by them, looks around, and then leaves. They stay in the ditch.
We get another shot of an awkward Ro-Man stumbling his way down a hill.
Back at the house, George and Martha watch Johnny approach the house, and we watch them watching him for a very long 37 seconds. Once inside, Johnny confesses that he gave away the secret of the serum. George seems all right with it (?!), and says they still have time. Carla asks to visit a friend's house to borrow some dolls, and the parents humor her. I know Carla is young, but is she totally braindead?!
Next, we see a brief shot of a strange light effect superimposed over a photograph of clouds. We hear Alice tell us that it's the flare, and that Johnny is okay. That thing in the sky looks like no flare I've ever seen. Would Ro-Man not see that and figure out where the house is? Obviously not.
We hear some happy music, and we see Alice and Roy still sitting in the ditch. Roy tries to kiss Alice, but she turns away.
We see Ro-Man walking down a hill.
Roy and Alice finally kiss.
For the next 25 seconds, we watch (just watch, not listen) Alice and Roy talk to each other over some romantic music. We can't hear their words, but they use odd hand and arm gestures. At one point, they talk about the clouds, and then a flower. They go on and on like this. This had to have been a perfect moment for MST3K. Finally, they kiss again and go at it in the grass.
Ro-Man finally reaches the cave, walking with his forearms up in an almost dainty manner.
We cut to the family sitting in their roofless basement, wasting time. Roy and Alice approach, and once they get in, Roy asks to marry Alice. The family is delighted.
At the cave, the bubble machine is running once again, and Ro-Man calls Guidance. He reports that the family is immune to the death ray because they have taken a serum, which Ro-Man believes is similar to something the Ro-Men have called "XZA". Why would robots need to be immunized against disease? Guidance commands Ro-Man to find a way to counteract it. Ro-Man will resort to using physical means. Guidance reports that twelve hours have passed, and that he's got twelve more to go. WTF?! Wait a minute, after Ro-Man got the twenty-four hour deadline, Alice and Roy spent two days working on fixing the viewscreen!! What happened to those two days?! I suppose Ro-Man got an extension. Ro-Man tunes out, adjusts the bubbles, and heads back into the cave.
The wedding ceremony is performed at the house. Roy is without his shirt, trampling all over an already ratty ceremony. George breaks down into a desperate plea to God to let them survive and to let Alice and Roy be happy together while they consummate that evening (heh heh). They're married, but there's no ring. Martha donates her own ring to the new couple, and they kiss. They leave the house for the night, while Carla goes out to pick flowers for them.
Ro-Man is stomping around outside his cave, but soon he heads off on another trip somewhere.
Alice and Roy walk through a field, and Carla catches up to them to deliver some flowers to them. They tell her to hurry off back home, but Carla runs off in the direction she was going before. No, Carla, home is the exact opposite way. Of course, Ro-Man appears and catches Carla. Roy and Alice do not see. Carla sees Ro-Man and doesn't run away. He picks her up and carries her off-camera, while she screams.
Back at the cave, Ro-Man calls Guidance and reports that he killed Carla by strangling her. He says there are now four humans left, plus one that Ro-Man feels should be left alive for study and sampling. Guidance doesn't want to change The Plan, and orders Ro-Man to kill all the humans. They tune out. Ro-Man waddles into the cave.
Meanwhile, Roy and Alice are kissing in the field, but Ro-Man finds them. He looks pretty mad. Alice screams, and they run. Roy tries fighting Ro-Man, while Alice tries to hit Ro-Man with a big rock. Ro-Man pushes Roy over the edge of a cliff, and we hear him scream as he falls, suggesting a far drop. Alice hits Ro-Man rather feebly, then starts running away. Ro-Man chases, but she trips and falls and Ro-Man catches her, picks her up, and carries her off.
George and Martha are walking about looking for Carla. They find her dead, and Martha immediately starts crying (or rather, pretending to cry). George tells her to be silent for Ro-Man will hear them, but she won't stop. George picks up his dead daughter, and they carry her away.
Ro-Man brings Alice through a field. He tells her he must kill her physically. Alice seems to be resigned to this fact, and rather calmly notes how strong Ro-Man is, and asks why he's so strong. Ro-Man pauses to explain that all Ro-Men get their strength from the planet Ro-Man. When speaking of the Ro-Men race, it's pronounced 'RO-man' or 'RO-men', but when speaking of their planet, it's pronounced 'ro-MAN'. How creative! Hey, doesn't the movie's tagline proclaim that the Ro-Men are from the Moon? Anyway, the planet Ro-Man distributes strength to each individual Ro-Man's energizer. He also tells Alice that his is in the cave. Then he continues his march.
George and Martha just finished burying Carla in a plot that won't last the winter, with a crude cross serving as a headstone. Johnny regrets not playing house with her enough. George says they'll have to find a way to go on without her. We'll just have to get ourselves a new Carla. I could have sworn that's what George wanted to say.
Just then, Roy shows up. Did he not fall off a cliff? Roy stumbles up to them, managing to tell them that Ro-Man has Alice before he collapses.
To prove Roy's point, we get a shot of Ro-Man carrying a screaming Alice back to his cave.
Roy dies. The family seems to take this in stride, and quickly think of a quick plan to free Alice. Johnny says he'll distract Ro-Man while the parents swoop in behind and free Alice. They all head back to the house.
Ro-Man and Alice arrive at the cave. He asks, that if he were a hu-man, if Alice treat him like a hu-man. Reworded, he asks Alice if she would treat him like a hu-man if he were a hu-man.
I assume the answer by default would be yes, unless Alice treats some humans like zucchini. Alice wishes to see the energizer, but Ro-Man won't show her.
He begins to tie her up, but someone is about to call over the viewer. He realizes he can't have her tied up by the time the person/thing calling appears on the viewer, so in an example of command decision-making, Ro-Man strikes Alice out cold. You don't see that too often in movies. Ro-Man rushes back to the screen, only to find the family wishing to surrender to him. Ro-Man says that he'll get them later (!), and they demand on surrendering immediately. Quite a reversal, isn't it? They tune out, and Ro-Man returns to Alice. However, she's awake now, and fully and properly tied up. Did the editor not think we'd see this?
Now Guidance Ro-Man is calling, and he says that Ro-Man is disobeying The Plan by leaving one of the hu-mans alive and delaying the surrender of the others. Guidance must be like Big Brother or something. Ro-Man is keen on revising The Plan to include Alice, but Guidance doesn't like this one bit. Then the following dialogue is spoken, and it's great:
Ro-Man: "There is one thing you do not understand."I do love those lines. Guidance sets out some clear instructions for his rebellious extension:
1) Destroy the girl;Easy enough, right? If Ro-Man won't do these two things, he will be destroyed. Ro-Man then pontificates and ponders deep, abstract philosophical concepts:
Ro-Man: "I cannot, yet I must. How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do 'must' and 'cannot' meet? Yet I must, but I cannot."Ahh, the depth of the character is now becoming apparent. Is this not the most pretentious line ever? I'd say this is the prelude to a Fatal Error on Ro-Man's part.
We cut to the family walking down the ravine to the cave. The parents give Johnny a hug and a gun. It's as if they're sending him off to death. I guess they're trading their good daughter for their not-so-good son. He walks up to the cave alone, while the family approaches from the other side.
Guidance calls, and he's quite mad. The boy shouts for Ro-Man. Guidance orders Ro-Man to kill Alice, and then Johnny. While Ro-Man says he cannot kill Alice, he's quite able and willing to kill Johnny. Ro-Man walks by Alice, asking for her forgiveness. He's only going to kill her younger brother. I guess she doesn't like Johnny either. While Ro-Man is busy, the family frees Alice. Ro-Man walks up to Johnny, who stands there and stares. RUN, STUPID!! Nope, another child is lost because he's too busy gawking. Johnny is dead.
Guidance is fed up. He kills Ro-Man with a violent arm thrust into the camera (3D!!!) We see thunder and that negative effect, signifying the death of Ro-Man. But wait, there's more!
Speaking now in a different voice, Guidance notes angrily that "hu-man elements still roam planet Earth." He unleashes "Cosmic Q Rays to spring prehistoric reptiles to devour all life" that remains. We get more shots from One Million B.C. or The Lost World, in no particular order. Fighting alligators, clay dinosaurs, and at least one shot of an armadillo running past the camera. I wonder how the filmmakers turned those 2D scenes into 3D, to blend with the rest of the movie. There's no way they could have done that. Next, Guidance unleashes "psychotronic vibrations" to "smash the Earth out of the universe." We see more fighting lizards, and the ground opening up and shaking. All of the mayhem begs the question, why couldn't Guidance do all this in the first place?! He wouldn't need to rely on emotionally unstable Ro-Men like Ro-Man. He could do it all from his office with simply a thrust of his arms! We see more general destruction, when it all starts to go hazy...
Here, I said to myself, Uh Oh...
Yes, gentle reader, the whole movie was a DREAM on the part of Johnny!!! The entire story of Ro-Man was completely meaningless! Now, I wasn't entirely surprised, given the multitudes of hints given at the beginning of the film, as well as the inconsistencies that followed the beginning of the dream, but the notion was enough to make me groan. Way to blow an hour!
Johnny wakes up with a nasty (and I do mean nasty) bump on his forehead. Roy and the Professor care for him in the cave. Mom, Alice, and Carla rush over to check on him. Johnny is glad to see them all alive, and asks if Ro-Man is around, but the family assures him that there are no such things. Oh, what a happy scene this is! Mom invites the Professor and Roy (is that still his name?) for dinner, and now when Carla asks to play house, Johnny agrees. Alice reaffirms that there are no such things as Ro-Men, and they all exit, accompanied by the happy and carefree 'the kid is playing kiddie games' music composed by Mr. Bernstein.
The camera focuses on the cave, and we see Ro-Man superimposed, lurching towards the camera, his arms extended outwards (3D!!!). His signature theme plays dramatically. Just when I thought the movie was over, we see Ro-Man pop up and lurch towards the camera again! I'm getting up to go, but then Ro-Man appears and lurches towards the camera for the third time! This bit lasted 36 stupid seconds. I sit back down and expect the movie to continue like this for another few minutes, but then we're mercifully presented with
Oh yeah, the epitome of Z-Movies. Actors that aren't even B-Actors (or 'bactors' as my brother says), and they're not even 'cactors'. These guys are 'zactors', especially the children. I don't see them winning Oscars. That's all you can get with a supposed $16,000 budget, I guess.
The movie is only four minutes over an hour, but time just crawls by during this movie. I really enjoyed it, and Ro-Man is a classic bad monster. Add to that the picnic in the moon-like quarry, the bubble machine, the terrible effects (a gold star goes to the Space Platform Explosion Effect), and the 'surprise' ending, and you get one great bad movie (I'm oxymoronic).
I recommend this movie to everyone. This movie, and all others like it, really helps you appreciate the effort and craft displayed in good movies that can stand up to time and critical eyes. It also is a window to entertainment trends and fads of the fifties, a decade that I missed by quite a bit. Robot Monster is my pop-culture time capsule. Let's cut the sap. If you like bleak picnics, being asked to play house, or mismatched monster costumes, you will love Robot Monster. If you're normal, you still might like Robot Monster, just in an unintended way.
May 11, 2004
Back to main site?