Friday, November 4, 2011

Turkey Day Part 1- Robot Monster

Let us start the Turkey Day festivities with Robot Monster and it's two accompanying Commando Cody shorts. This is a Season 1 episode, and S1 is always a little weird to watch. Tom Servo's voice is different, for starters (Josh Weinstein was Servo in the first season, and Kevin Murphy was Servo for the rest of the series' run). Moreover, MST3K was only about a year removed from their public access days, so they were still sorta finding their place. This is one of the standout episodes from those early attempts.

Before we get to the main event, we get a double shot of installments from the film serial "Radar Men from the Moon"- Flight to Destruction and Murder Car (lease or buy your 2011 Murder Car today). Fun sidenote- this is the film serial that Kathy Bates' character refers to in Misery; I can see why she was crazy.

Anyway, moon men have begun to infiltrate Earth, using their moon ray to cause havoc. Unfortunately, they run out of start-up capital. Now, many small businesses would try to increase revenue via sales or loans; the moon men, however, decide to have their Earth criminal lackeys try to obtain funds via kidnapping and payroll heists, making the Moon's business model only slightly less evil than modern bank practices (zing!). Commando Cody, a poor man's Rocketeer, continually foils these shenanigans.

Now, onto the main event. A young boy is playing in a cave while on a picnic with his mother and two sisters. While exploring, he comes across two archaelogists. Mom and older sister Alice chide young Johnny and take him back for a nap. However, Johnny plays possum and goes to the cave again. He quickly falls down. When he wakes up, things have taken a turn for the worse. ("You lay down for five minutes....")

Apparently, Johnny is one of the last survivors on Earth. The one archaeologist from the cave is actually Johnny's father and a prominent scientist. With his wife Johnny's Mom, hot daughter and scientist Alice, rugged assistant Roy (the other guy from the cave), and Johnny and younger daughter Carla, they are the last vestiges of the human race. What happened? Well, I'll tell you.

The planet Ro-Man, populated by Ro-Mans (or Ro-Men, the film flips back and forth on this) send their top agent, Ro-Man, to wipe out humanity. Ro-Man has many tools at his disposal, including a death ray to kill everybody, a view screen to communicate with the Ro-Man leader Great Guidance and intercept Earth transmissions, and a bubble machine, the presence of which is never adequately explained. This is Ro-Man, by the way.

Behold, the Destroyer of Worlds?!?

Yeah. Terrifying. Anyway, why hasn't he managed to kill off the last six people on Earth? Well, apparently, the Professor came up with a universal antibiotic vaccination that coincidentally also immunizes against death rays (so, don't listen to Jenny McCarthy or Michelle Bachmann, parents, not if you want your children to survive the inevitable alien apocalypse).  Great Guidance informs Ro-Man that he can, you know, just beat them to death, as their bunker isn't far from the cave that doubles as Ro-Man HQ.

The family tries to negotiate with Ro-Man, but to no avail. Ro-Man still wants to kill MOST of the family. I say most, because Ro-Man develops feelings for comely Alice; you could say he's looking for Ro-Mance (ba-dum-tsh). Ro-Man kills Roy and young Carla and kidnaps Alice. He tries to rape Alice, but the remaining family comes to the rescue, and then Great Guidance says "screw it" and just blows the whole planet up. Dinosaurs show up, for some reason, and the human race dies. Or do they?!?

Johnny wakes up! It was all a dream. His father, the Professor, is actually the archaeologist he just met, and Johnny would like to fix him up with his single mother. And you thought this film had terrible writing. Well, it does, just not in the way you initially expected. The group retires to have more of their picnic lunch, when suddenly, a host of Ro-Mans emerge from the cave. Is it an actual invasion? More Freudian imaginings from the mind of SEVERELY DISTURBED Johnny? I don't care, the film's over.

I watched this the other day, and later, at work, I suffered a mild fever and muscle aches and fatigue. I blame the movie. The actual riffing of the film is very good (though not quite as polished as it would become in later seasons) and their are at least two really fun sketches, including one where Joel hits Tom Servo with a chair. Overall, Robot Monster is good just because it's SO ludicrous. Enjoy it with your hu-man sense of hu-mor.

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