I’m not gonna waste much time poking fun at Robot Monster. It’s been the object of merciless ridicule, parody and pseudo-hip criticism over its 70 history, so taking more potshots at the film’s dubious qualities would be an exercise in redundancy.
Of course, this 70th Anniversary restoration by Bayview Entertainment isn’t intended to prompt any sort of reassessment. It remains a legendarily bad film, acknowledged by just about everyone except director Phil Tucker. But is Robot Monster truly one of the worst movies ever made, as they love to declare? I dunno…that’s kind of subjective, isn’t it? I’ve seen thousands of movies over the years and can think of a half dozen from Italy alone that are far worse.
Besides, Robot Monster boasts a few unique qualities that aren’t associated with ineptitude. While the production values and special effects were laughable even in 1953, the film was an excellent example of 3-D technology using stereoscopic photography. And say what you will about the daffy dialogue and petrified performances, there’s some damn fine music underscoring everything, composed by none other than Elmer Bernstein. And sure, the story is supremely silly, but it had the balls to kill children and even offed its own leading man before the final act. That was pretty atypical back in the ‘50s.
|"When I agreed to date you, I assumed you had a car."|
The disc is also loaded with new and vintage supplemental material. Much of it is related to the movie itself (both its history and restoration), and for the most part, we sense more affection than ridicule behind the selection of material. While there’s some historically fascinating stuff here, my only issue is how it's all presented. Divided among both versions, you can’t simply select one particular item. Everything is put together as a multi-chapter feature. The chapters are listed inside the cover as a guide, but it’s kind of inconvenient.
Other than that, however, the 70th Anniversary edition of Robot Monster in 3-D is a lot of fun, for both longtime cult fans and the historically curious. It’s been nicely restored and the 3-D effects are still pretty neat. Too bad it only comes with one pair of glasses. This would be a real hoot at a party.
“STARDUST IN YOUR EYES” - A vintage short that used to be shown before 3-D features. Starring a comedian named Slick Slaven, It serves as a prologue to the movie.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Greg Moffett, Mike Ballew, Eric Kurland & Lawrence Kaufman.
BELA LUGOSI - YOU ASKED FOR IT - The actor’s appearance on TV. This is the one bonus feature that actually appears on the main menu.
3D VERSION FEATURES (you need your glasses for some of there!)
“MEMORIES OF A POOPED OUT PINWHEEL” - Charming new Interview with Greg Moffett (who played little Johnny).
“TRAVELS THROUGH TIME & SPACE” - Slide presentation.
“SIDE STREETS OF HOLLYWOOD” - Two weird vintage shorts in polarized 3-D.
“ADVENTURES IN 3-D” - Restored 3-D comic book. Great fun.
“RETURN TO BRONSON CANYON” - Featurette from 2006.
“WHATEVER HAPPENED TO RO-MAN?” - A 2009 short inspired by Robot Monster.
BEFORE/AFTER RESTORATION DEMO
2D VERSION FEATURES (no glasses needed!)
“SAVING SLICK” - A brief doc about the star of “Stardust in Your Eyes.”
“3-D MOVIES IN LOS ANGELES” - Collection of other 3-D movie trailers from the era.
“MONSTER FROM MARS” - Robot Monster was retitled for re-release. This is the opening title sequence for that version.
“TRAILERS FROM HELL” - Episode from director Joe Dante’s long-running web series, Trailers from Hell.
“MISTAKES & INNOVATIONS” - Some of the techniques used by director Phil Tucker are discussed.
“ROBOT MONSTER DIARIES” - This is a promotional spot about a book published by Amazon in 2016.
“RESCUING RO-MAN” - An interesting short about how a couple of 3-D prints were discovered in 1990.