Robot Monster (1953)

Phil Tucker invented a rotary engine known as the CT Surge Turbine that he successfully patented and unsuccessfully tried to sell to the automobile industry as a more efficient alternative to the internal combustion engine. And years after directing movies like this and The Cape Canaveral Monsters, he did actually contribute to some movies as an editor, including Orca and King Kong.

Yet we’re all going to remember him for this movie and to be honest, whenever life gets me down, I remember that at some point, people got together and decided to make a movie about the end of the world and threw a monkey suit with a TV set for a head in it and I think about the startling ridiculousness of that and you know, it’s all better.

That monster is known as Ro-Man Extension XJ-2. He’s played by George Barrows, who made his own gorilla suit to get roles in movies. He’s already used his Calcinator death ray to kill everyone on Earth except for the eight people we meet in this movie.

I mean, that’s pretty through. There were 2.6 billion people alive in 1953, so to wipe out that many people, much less be able to find the eight you missed is pretty good work, if I can commend the outright annihilation of a planet.

Sure, this movie outright rips off the ending of Invaders from Mars and recycles footage from One Million B.C., Lost ContinentRocketship X-M and Captive Women, but it’s in 3D, shot all over Bronson Canyon and was made in four days for $16,000. That is also worth celebrating.

It also has a score by Elmer Bernstein, who was currently being held back from major movies because of his liberal views. He also did a score for Cat Women of the Moon that year, but soon would be one of the biggest names in movie music.

Look, this is a movie that has a Billion Bubble Machine with an antenna being used for Ro-Man to communicate with the Great Guidance, the supreme leader of his face, who finally gets fed up and blasts not only that gorilla robot but the child hero before he causes dinosaurs to come back and then uses psychotronic vibrations to smash Earth out of the universe. If you can’t find something to love there, you are beyond hope.

You can watch the Mystery Science Theater and original version of this movie on Tubi.

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