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Home > Sci-Fi > My Favorite Martians: Ro-Man Of The Planet Ro-Man

My Favorite Martians: Ro-Man Of The Planet Ro-Man

September 3rd, 2009

It’s a familiar story. Gorilla in bubble helmet meets girl. Gorilla in bubble helmet loses girl. Gorilla in bubble helmet kills billions of people with calcinator death ray.

Meet Ro-Man of the Planet Ro-Man, the star of 1953’s Robot Monster. A lot of films are said to be “so bad, they’re good,” but this is the crème de la crème of cinema cheese. Only Plan Nine From Outer Space can challenge it for accidental hilarity.

Now, most people making a film about a “robot monster” would at least make a good faith attempt to put a robot on the screen, but director Phil Tucker wasn’t most people. Legend has it that available robot costumes were too expensive to rent, so Tucker hired his friend George Barrows, whose chief qualification was that he owned a gorilla suit.

You might be thinking, “A gorilla isn’t a robot.” Sure, not until you replace the head with a space helmet. Voilà! Robot! Pull some pantyhose over the actor’s face and you’re ready to conquer the world!

And so came that fateful day when a single overweight mechanical gorilla managed to kill all but eight members of the human race. He might have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for love.

Yes, love. For one of those remaining eight is Alice (or, as Ro-Man calls her “A-lice”), the only woman who can set a robot simian’s heart aflutter.

Alice is one of the daughters of a scientist who created a serum which counteracts Ro-Man’s death ray. Not that it’s done his family or assistant Roy much good, as they’re living in the open foundation of a demolished house, protected from the alien’s senses by an electronic barrier.

Ro-Man is under orders from his leader Great Guidance–who looks suspiciously like Ro-Man aside from a slightly modified bubble helmet–to locate and destroy the remaining “hu-mans.” But Ro-Man keeps fudging the number of survivors in hopes that Great Guidance won’t notice that the one called A-lice is still among the living.

I must, but I cannot! How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do ‘must’ and ‘cannot’ meet? Yet I cannot….but I must!

You see, despite his great strength–obtained from the planet Ro-Man, relayed for his individual energiser–Ro-Man is experiencing an inexplicable weakness. It will lead him to make both poor judgments and frequent soliloquys.

Yes! To be like the hu-man! To laugh! Feel! Want! Why are these things not in the plan?

Folks, Ro-Man needs himself something, and it’s not something that can be relayed from the planet Ro-Man.

He kidnaps A-lice and brings her back to his cave* of super Ro-Man technology, including a wooden table and a thing what blows bubbles. (No joke, N.A. Fischer Chemical Products gets a credit for its “Automatic Billion Bubble Machine.”)

What is painfully obvious is that Ro-Man has no clue what to do with a girl once he kidnaps one. For one, his fat gorilla hands clearly aren’t up to the task. He makes a futile attempt to tie up A-lice, but when Great Guidance calls he gets frustrated and knocks her out. And yet, a couple of shots later, she’s sitting on the ground, trussed hand and foot. I like a girl who’s into self-bondage.

Great Guidance at last loses his shit and bellows, “You wish to be a hu-man? Good! You can die a hu-man!” He unleashes cosmic Q-waves which kill the lovestruck gorilla/robot and destroy the world in a stock footage montage which inexplicably includes dinosaurs.

And then, it turns out to be all a little boy’s dream. Or is it? As the boy runs away from the cave, Ro-Man reemerges. Not once, but three times. Three Ro-Men? Or one Ro-Man walking in circles? We will never know.

Honestly, I can barely do this film justice. Read the wonderful review at And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

*The infamous Bronson Canyon cave, an artificially-dug tunnel in a public park so close to Hollywood that it’s featured in countless movies and TV shows.

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