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Posts Tagged ‘gorillas’

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

September 3rd, 2009 No comments

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.

Batman Digs This Day

January 5th, 2009 No comments

It’s a good time to be a fan of old-school DC superheroes. In addition to the torrent of Showcase Presents reprint volumes, there’s also this:

Bat-Manga is a collection of Batman ephemera produced when the ’60s live-action series was introduced to Japan. While it includes many arresting candy and toy package illustrations–including some curiously ugly depictions of Robin the Boy Wonder–the real prize is the assortment of rare comics. I’m by no means a manga fan, but the chance to read Batman filtered through the insane lens of Speed Racer-era Japanese pop culture was too much for me for pass up. Forget about the Joker and Two-Face, this book features villains such as Professor Gorilla and Lord Death Man, and that’s at least three flavors of awesome.

“Three flavors of awesome” also describes Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which clocked in with another new episode last Friday, “The Day of the Dark Knight.” It wasn’t enough to feature the Silver Age versions of Bats and Green Arrow squaring off against Jack Kirby’s Etrigan the Demon, no sir. The teaser sequence had the Caped Crusader on Oa, the home planet of the Guardians of the Universe, and included cameo appearances from pretty much every Silver and Bronze Age alien Green Lantern…including Ch’p, the squirrel Green Lantern! But even that’s not the reason this episode maxed out the Awesometer.

Nope, that was the scene that I screen-capped above, in which Batman and Green Arrow foiled a mass prison break of what appeared to be just about every villain from the ’60s live-action Batman series. You can see the Mad Hatter (a comics villain that was featured prominently on the TV show) getting clocked by a Batarang above, but right behind him is the Minstrel, the Bookworm and Clock King. Other recognizable faces in the scene were Egghead, King Tut, False Face, the Siren, and Louis the Lilac!

The entire episode is available online for a few days. Check it out!

Try It With "Vampire"

August 23rd, 2008 No comments

Last night our board game group played Agricola, currently the hottest thing going on BoardGameGeek.com. I don’t know that it’s worth all that fuss, but I ultimately enjoyed it. I’d started off the night in a really foul mood, but by the end I was getting into the contest, raising my brood and running the smallest farm in the history of agriculture. (I had one plowed field and never grew a damned thing.)

And yet, at the end of the night, I thought “I’ve just spent the last four hours building a farm.” It’s pretty common that in playing one of those fancy-schmancy, beloved-by-fanboys, European board games, one will find oneself creating a farmstead, a plantation, a grist mill or perhaps a city district in some quasi-Renaissance setting. My friend Dave Lartigue bitches from time to time about all the cathedrals he’s constructed.

As I mulled over last night’s activity, I thought, “You know, if it had been a SPACE farm, I would’ve been all over it.” Instead of raising cattle, I would’ve had space cattle. (Space cattle differ from their terrestrial brethren by their third horn and triple-jointed back legs.) I could’ve grown space grain, gathered space vegetables, and even started a space basket-weaving business on my own private asteroid. It already sounds like more fun!

I soon realized that any number of familiar geek-friendly words could be used to turn just another damned church-building game into something to fuel the imagination and tickle the space funny-bone.

How about a pirate farm? (“Arr, these be pirate tomatoes ye be eyeing.”) A zombie plantation? (“The zombie slaves are revolting!” “You’re not looking so great yourself!”) A robot grist mill? (Erm, it’s a grist mill…THAT SEEKS TO CONQUER AND DESTROY!)

Man, I can’t wait to erect my first gorilla cathedral.