"Robot Monster" (1953) opens with an idyllic scene of young Johnny pretending to be a space alien at a family picnic. After a nap in the sun, Johnny takes a walk to a cave where lightning, battling dinosaurs, and a whole lot of bubbles precede the appearance of Ro-Man, an alien come to cleanse Earth of all life forms capable of competing with his own species. Johnny's post-nap world is inhabited by only a handful of survivors which Ro-Man aims to pick off one by one. It's pretty horrible, but then Johnny wakes up outside of the cave and we're allowed to think Ro-Man was the product of a bump on the head—but then what's that coming out of the cave?
Ro-Man's costume is as (accidentally?) telling as it is hilarious. Dressed in a gorilla suit with a diving helmet, he looks more like the Teletubbies' ugly big brother than any robot, scary alien, or hybrid of the two. Since Ro-Man and the leader he communicates with via bubble machine appear to rely on a brand of logic that cannot account for emotion, Ro-Man's irrational crush on Johnny's big sister, Alice, results in his downfall. As he hoists the daintily clad Alice (Claudia Barrett) in his hairy arms and declares "To laugh, feel, want—why are these things not in The Plan?", one can't resist asking if under all the technology, the film is trying to say that aliens are really just apes like us.
Dr. Kalani RaphaelDr. Kalani Raphael, transplant nephrologist at the University of Utah College of Medicine, discusses why antibiotics would not stop death rays as shown in the super low budget film Robot Monster.
More Science to go with the Show
Find More UEN SciFi Friday