Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ROBOT MONSTER (1953) - I've heard of monkey trouble, but this is ridiculous

If there is one important lesson I have learned from my many years of cinema watching, it is this: NEVER FUCK WITH A DUDE IN A MONKEY SUIT. Now, don’t misunderstand me. Regular monkeys are mostly good people. If you happen upon an orangutan, just be damn sure there isn’t a little human midget hiding in there, and, if you’re in the clear, get ready for some crowd pleasing redneck road adventures with the little goofer. You might even be able to communicate with a lab monkey and develop a deep friendship. Even if the worst case scenario happens, and a large gorilla becomes hostile with you, you can just buy him a banana split sundae and you’ll end up with a friend for life.

However, a dude in a monkey suit has no such proclivity for friendliness. He’ll gladly rip your arms off or hurl you over a cliff with nary a sliver of remorse. The only type more ruthless than a guy wearing a monkey suit is an alien wearing a fishbowl helmet. Attempting to rationalize with these alien types will prove utterly futile, as they probably want to take over your planet, or, at the very least, steal your women to propagate with. Robot Monster manages to combine these two types to create one transcendent paradigm of evil, the most ruthless intergalactic scumbag to ever grave the science fiction genre: Ro-Man. His first bit of business upon landing on planet Earth is not to collect information, nor communicate with the human race, nor to try some of the local cuisine. Nope. Instead, he immediately wipes out the entire human race without so much as a warning shot. Dead. Fuck you.

It should be noted that Ro-Man is actually part of a dream (spoiler alert…oops), a product of the unconscious mind of the annoying boy hero. This outrageous looking antagonist therefore makes sense when viewed through a weird brat’s subconscious filter. Here is a Z-grade outsider art version of a token sci-fi villain, a perfectly illogical rendering of pure evilosity that towers over the genre. Even Khan from Star Trek II is, in my mind, descended from this character, a centralized form of space evil under the guise of a ridiculous looking Ricardo Montalban. Heck, just listen to the way Williams Shatner screams his name into the heavens. It takes a special breed of slimebucket to inspire such a vessel popping reaction. I bet when Shatner is sitting at home and he happens upon Young Frankenstein while channel surfing, he yells out “KAAAAAAAHHHHHHNNNNN” every time Madeline Kahn walks into frame, so haunted he remains by this unscrupulous character.

Anyway, one family miraculously survives the death ray (which is accompanied by Lost World stock footage of dinosaurs wrestling for some reason, and that reason is probably that dinosaur wrestling is awesome), thanks to a strategically employed force field, created by the scientist father. A good American dad is always prepared for disaster, you know, a buckknife and some canned goods, but this is one of those superdads, ready for the worst case scenario, an eradication laser from a monkey man from outer space. The film is basically a tug of war between this Ro-man and the last remaining family on earth (“hu-mans”, the space gorilla calls them). Ro-Man asks for their surrender, intoning “your death will be indescribable…is there a choice between a ‘painless surrender death’ and the ‘horror of resistance death’”? In this case, not much. I guess it’s the same difference between death and ugu, or there abouts.

The distinction here is quite clear. Human men are good hearted and show empathy towards other creatures, and the robot man will coldly kill people without remorse if it serves a function. I don’t know quite understand how wiping out the human race helps these “ro-men”, but maybe it’s too complicated for a dim witted earthling like myself to understand. In order to demonstrate his powers to the family, he destroys a model plane on a stick being held by a visible hand. That’s doesn’t sound too impressive, BUT HE DOES IT WITH HIS FUCKING MIND. Also, he has a machine that makes bubbles. Not ordinary bubbles, mind you, but BUBBLES OF COMPLETE AND UTTER DEATH. As an aside, I think Helloween’s album “Pink Bubbles Go Ape” might be a tribute to this movie, even though there is nothing pink about it (it’s in black and white). Maybe our favorite German thrash band got together one night and watched the film on mushrooms. You know what, that sounds like a really really really good idea.

Of course, every man in a monkey suit, no matter how seemingly invincible has one distinct weakness: a classy hot chick. I don’t think you can just throw out any stripper as a sacrifice to King Kong or whomever. She’s gotta be glamorous and proper like. Thankfully, older daughter Alice fits the bill, and I know this because, well, JUST LOOK AT HER HAIR! Who can blame the poor guy.

Alice wants to negotiate with Ro-Man, but her little brother does so instead, accusing Ro-Man of being “a big bully, picking on people smaller than you are”, to which he retorts “now I will kill you”, with perfect comic timing. Granted, he’s dead serious, but dudes in monkey suits have absolutely no sense of humor, and this straight man approach is why they are funny, in a Leslie Nielsen sort of way. Anyone who really knows me knows that I have forever proclaimed that one of the true golden rules of comedy is “a guy in a monkey suit” (see Take the Money and Run). Ironically, these fake gorillas are just as funny as they are psychotic. I want to make it clear that I don’t think they are funny because they like to hurt people for no reason. Not at all. These two dynamics are completely unrelated. Call it the “the great monkey suit conundrum”.

Eventually, Alice is allowed to work her magic, causing Ro-Man to go bananas (you knew I was going there…it was inevitable). He becomes confused with his human-like emotions, saying “I cannot, yet I must…how do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do must and cannot meet?”. They’re called FEELINGS, asshole. DEAL WITH IT. So, you see, not everything can be reduced to a system or a formula or an equation. Like the stock brokers that live by the Fibonacci sequence, those who view the world through a dehumanizing and reductive prism aimed towards a financial or technological goal will eventually turn into a robot of sorts. Now here's an awesome music video to take your mind off the hu-man condition. You're welcome.


  1. I listened to your command to look at her hair, and you know what? It was totally worth it.

    First head nodding, now this. (The last entry I did ended with some mild Fibonaccis action as well.)

    Oh, and, hey, what flick is your YouTube video "Ami Dolenz - nightclub suicide" from? A smallish part of me is dying to know.

  2. And it's MY Fibonacci video you used! It shouldn't surprise anyone that they popped up in the blog, considering Diane Franklin from Terror Vision is the official mascot, and they did the soundtrack to said movie.

    To Die, To Sleep is the name of the movie. Don't even get me started on Ami Dolenz. Mention "She's Outta Control" and my pants will go out of control.