I rented this because, in a documentary I saw recently, a guy acted surprised when he learned Ed Wood didn’t direct it. It has most of the hallmarks of Wood — maybe a few fewer large blocks of dialogue spewed back and forth — but certainly this movie competes with Wood in the categories of acting, production value and logic. The main conceit, if I have this right, is that a fat man in a gorilla suit and diving helmet with TV antenna glued to the top can kill everyone except for the small family that happens to live down the block from its cave. Can’t go into why just now, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that the patriarch of this family can’t pronounce the bad guy’s name correctly. There are far too many delightful, baffling moments to list here — from the futuristic “space platform” clearly being held up by a human hand, to the soliloquy of the Ro-Man who asks, “To be like the hu-man! To laugh! Feel! Want! Why are these things not in the plan?” Suffice it to say that this movie was spoofed in Season One of Mystery Science Theater 3000. “Robot Monster” is a real treat and I am indebted to the schmo who mistakenly mentioned it in that other film I saw. Oh! Elmer Bernstein does the score. I kid you not.
Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.
He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.