Apr 4, 2012

Robot Monster


I recall reading some interview with Quentin Tarantino when I was a kid in which he said something to the effect of "If I screen Rio Bravo for a girl and she doesn't love it, it's over" and thinking "You fucking dweeb…if you actually managed to get a something with female sex organs into your lair, you'd show her a John Wayne movie?! AND have the temerity to declare it "over" if such a sweaty, excessively masculine flick doesn't make her swoon?" Having huge Hollwood pocketbooks to bankroll your cinematic mixtapes makes a world of difference- imagine if that deformed dork had never managed to pillage and plagiarize his way to the top- he'd have to be like the rest of us and just be happy vag-titties will tolerate our "hobby", or be eternally grateful to baby-bearers who actually share our passion, regardless of whether or not they like an old Western flick or not. Rio Bravo, man?! I wonder if he made Uma Thurman watch that shit while jerking off all over her toes. I know there is a point to this tangent…oh yeah, Phil Tucker's CLASSIC 1953 film Robot Monster. Now, I'm not saying I'd relent from facebanging a hottie if she didn't share my unequivocal love of the misadventures of fishbowl-headed, gorilla-framed Ro-Man and a small handful of humans in Bronson Canyon, but it would definitely make me sad, and might lead to major resentment over time if she is an informed film geek like yours truly and rests on the tried-and-trued appraisal of Robot Monster as being one of the "worst films of all time." Do any of you lazy fuckwits who resort to laughing at this flick realize that you are just parroting that GOP fuckslut Michael Medved's opinion from his insulting Golden Turkey Awards tome from the seventies? Have you actually seen this MASTERPIECE of economical sci-fi cinema?


Yes, masterpiece, assholes. For all the talk of "ineptitude", and claims that the film's reception drove the director to a suicide attempt (in fact, it was the producers blackballing him from the industry and not being able to get a cut of the million bucks the $16,000 film ended up making at the box office…Variety even gave it a somewhat complimentary review!), Robot Monster is a brisk 62 minute approximation of sci-fi geek 10-year olds playing in a fort before supper. With scant props, locations relegated to a section of Griffith Park that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen their share of B-Westerns and sci-fi cheese, some incongruous stock footage (not to mention surprisingly strong 3-D photography at his disposal), Tucker manages to wring the most of his post-post-apocalyptic scenario, as alien Ro-Man Extension XJ-2 strives to eliminate the few remaining humans left on earth with his Calcinator Death Ray, humans who coincidentally live just around the corner from the cave in which he resides. Said humans consist of a Euro-accented scientist, his frumpy wife, grating son Johnny (the appropriately annoying main character- if a kid is in some late-night channel Z classic, he SHOULD be whiny voiced and Dennis the Menace-lite, dammit…children who can actually act are doomed to drug habits and reality TV, kids who just wince and whinny will live fitter, happier lives, though off hand I can think of plenty exceptions to this nonsensical rule of my own invention, so disregard the last few sentences), equally snot-nosed daughter Carla, older babe daughter, Alice, and a younger scientist love-interest of Alice, Roy. Living in some very slightly decorate ruins that the scientist has rigged so that the Ro-Man can't hear them and thus sniff out their location (despite the apparent fact these remaining humans are immune to his Calcinator Death Ray because of antibiotic serums developed by the scientists). Anyways, Johnny, being an inquisitive little shit, stumbles upon Ro-Man Extension XJ-2, who receives transmissions from his leader (also a dude in a gorilla suit and fishbowl helmet, but with a tesla coil) on a screen and whose Calcinator Death Ray looks for all intents and purposes like shortwave radio equipment, which, when activated, emits bubbles and makes the film stock get all strobe-lighty and reverse exposured. The ruthless Ro-Man is ready to stamp out the remaining Hu-Mans when he catches a glimpse of the fetching Alice and realizes that white, silky Hu-Man skin certainly beats whatever passes for feminine on the planet Ro-Man, and begins to have a change of heart, getting into frustrating, though robotically civil arguments with his commanding officer via telescreen. It is hard not to feel for Ro-Man…he's so patently ridiculous appearance-wise, all his machinery manages to do little more than emit bubbles and stock footage of dinosaurs and earthquakes, and worst yet, he's all alone in a cave and doesn't realize he's only a hop-and-skip away from the Griffith Park Observatory, which features a fantastic view of Los Angeles (looks so much nicer in aerial than slogging around it's crusted-over, syphilitic surface) and a Planetarium show about the Big Bang that is awesome on mushrooms but hard to slog through sober and surrounded by snickering high-school students. The pathos XJ-2 generates are pretty genuine and heart-felt, and, if you're anything like me, he soon transcends his antagonist status to become the true hero of the film, especially after he strangles Johnny's younger sister (kid death, in a fifties flick no less! yes!) and gets his mits on Alice.


I'm not going to go too in-depth about the remainder of the plot (except to say that if you've seen Invaders from Mars, or most any kid-centric sci-fi/horror from this time period, how it ends ain't hard to grok)- it is easy to come across like I'm poking fun at this flick by spelling out the particulars, but anyone who sees Robot Monster with an open heart and a weary mind will find that this film is fun in and of itself, and needs no mocking robot silhouettes (and Joel) to be a perfect affirmation of the wonders of no-budget, high-imagination cinema. The acting, cloying kiddies aside, is miles above other "worst film ever" contenders like Ed Wood's oeuvre or Manos: The Hands of Fate (save John Reynolds incomparable Torgo…a truly great piece of acid-drenched performance ART)- matinee-campy but not unbearably wooden. The location makes the most of the tiny desolate desert environs of Bronson Canyon, and the sparsity of the area and the set decorations lends it a certain air of knowing threadbare staginess that, were it done for a tenth of the budget by, say, the Kuchar brothers, would be shown in museums and praised by effete soy-fiends the world over instead of languishing in the infernal gooch of the bottom rungs of the Internet Movie DataBase. Instead, Phil Tucker is considered worthy of derision (he also directed Dance Hall Racket, written by and starring Lenny Bruce (!), which I'm making a point of watching soon) when Robot Monster has so much of the infectious, genuine SOUL that dudes like the Kuchars want to capture but can't quite nail because they are too hip and "with it" (not a knock on the Kuchars, just an observation- when you consciously try to make "outsider art", it is never quite the same as, say, Shooby Taylor's scatting)


So yeah, when it comes down to it, consider this review a personal ad. If you have firm B's, dark hair (shoulder length at least), tastefully applied make-up, a love of 'challenging' media, a round ass, and want to be the Alice to my cave-dwelling Ro-Man, well, yeah, you're probably too good to be true and are a cutter and will only fuck me because I remind you of your brother or something. Soiled Sinema…maybe not the best place to meet sane ladies. Which is FINE, fuck, goofing on Robot Monster might make me respect people in general just a tad bit less, or goofing on any of the art I hold dear, for that matter, but ultimately, who gives a fuck? Ass-and-titties is ass-and-titties, Tarantino, you insufferable doofus. That any woman has had to tolerate his pathetic pecker inside of her is a tragedy on par with Robot Monster's ridiculous retrospective reception.


-Jon-Christian

4 comments:

Phantom of Pulp said...

Biblical post, son! And definitely fuck that Medved and his condescending prickery.

I can't thank you enough for deifying this wonderful movie.

And I hope it gets you a bevy of lasses lining up side-by-side for your unpretentious and sincere Robo-penis.

Anonymous said...

Great review!!

White RB

Jon the Obscure said...

Thank you Phantom and Anonymous (your Occupy protests were pretty fucking silly, but your intentions are just enough - respect)! Indeed, I can only hope that my robocock is soon satiated with some Hu-Man Va-Jay, but for the time being, tufts and tufts of Seventies pornstuffs and freaky-deaky Japanese guro comics are keeping it's posture upright. For the TIME BEING. And yes, until my dying breath I will sing the praises of this motion picture and a bevy of others "the critics agree" on, and should I ever become supreme ruler you'd best believe "Robot Monster", "Freddy Got Fingered" and "Southland Tales" will be released in deluxe Criterion editions to rival the likes of the "Brazil" box...

Anonymous said...

"Jon the Obscure" is an even bigger looney than "Jervaise Brooke Hamster", and thats saying something i can tell ya` ! ! !.