What monster, out of the innumerable B science-fiction/horror films from the 50s and 60s, can possibly hope to compete with Ro-Man — the man in a gorilla suit wearing a toy plastic space helmet — from Robot Monster?Four words: Giant. Antimatter. Space. Buzzard.note Test-pilot/electronics engineer/physicist Mitchell "Mitch" Macafee (Jeff Morrow) is piloting a jet over Canada when he spots a UFO ("As big as a battleship!!"). His girlfriend on the ground Sally Caldwell (Mara Corday), however, sees nothing on the radar. Jets are scrambled to investigate his claim, but one goes missing. Mitch's commanding officer isn't pleased with him — and is even less so when another plane disappears in the same area.
En route back to the United States, Mitch and Sally's plane is attacked. Screeching is heard. They crash-land on a farm but survive unscathed and are taken in by a redneck named Pierre. More screeching is heard. Mitch and Sal go outside and find Pierre lying on the ground in terror near his spooked livestock. He claims to have seen the mythical witch La Cargagne, an omen of his impending death.Finally arriving back in General Buskirk's office, Mitch is surprised to discover that his story about a battleship-sized UFO is no longer dismissed as pure fallacy. Another aircraft, this time carrying a bunch of investigators, was lost shortly after the pilot radioed a distress call that a bird the size of... wait for it... a battleship, was attacking the plane. Not to mention some googly-eyed pictures snapped by a high-altitude balloon's camera.Thus we finally get our first glimpses of the beast that would put the combined worst of the bestiaries from every Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual to shame: a mighty battleship-sized phoenix from outer space, that flies faster than the speed of sound, that emanates a force-field of antimatter protecting it from all that the military can throw at it... as embodied by a puppet that looks like Buzz Buzzard's evil twin.It's time for women to gaze at the sky and pretend to scream in terror, for model cars and trains to be awkwardly plucked off papier-mâché sets, and for a scheme "so crazy, it just might work!" to be contrived to defeat the bird.This movie is simply priceless. It's got everything that a B science-fiction/horror movie from the 50s should have; a completely ridiculous monster, laughable dialogue delivered with total sincerity, copious use of mismatched stock footage, gobs and gobs of pseudo-scientific Techno Babble... you name it. All that's missing is the Fauxlosophic Narration. Although the actors' ruminations on their careers upon seeing the monster for the first time might've been entertaining.Because... perhaps most priceless of all is the fact that all scenes with the actors were filmed first — and then the scenes with the puppet were spliced in. None of the cast actually saw what they were supposed to be terrified of until they attended the film's premiere. Reportedly, Morrow, upon hearing the audience's reaction, left the theater with a red face hidden beneath a turned-up collar.By the way, it was released by Columbia Pictures — also responsible for Lawrence of Arabia and Jason and the Argonauts. This is the one that tends not to be mentioned in the studio-anniversary clip shows.It never got an episode on Mystery Science Theater 3000, which, quite frankly, is a crime. James Rolfe, however, gives a fine insight on it.
This film provides examples of:
- Antimatter: Well, Hollywood antimatter, anyway.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever
- Attack of the Killer Whatever
- Big Applesauce: The climax takes place in New York.
- Carload of Cool Kids: A group of these driving past the protagonists, flouting the warnings to stay off the road at night (since the whole world has become aware of the eponymous monster by this point). Predictably, they're attacked.
- Contemplate Our Navels: Sally gets two scenes of ruminating on tragic deaths, almost one right after the other.
- Contrived Coincidence: Really, does that monster has a thing for Mitch or something?
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Sally Caldwell is quite the ice queen towards Mitch, at first. Then his "charm" finally wins her over.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "As big as a battleship." This is apparently the only really big thing the scriptwriters had ever seen in their entire lives
- Doomed Hurt Guy: The poor pilot Mitch saves from the wreckage.
- Feathered Fiend: You bet!
- Giant Flyer
- Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: The titular creature is frequently stated to be the size of a battleship.
- Kaiju: The bird.
- Monumental Damage: The bird arrives in New York City and attacks the United Nation headquarters, for whatever reason.
- Phrase Catcher: The monster is compared to a battleship.
- Reverse Polarity
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Nor do they have any other measurement than "as big as a battleship", apparently.
- Stock Footage:
- One shot of a building losing its top in New York has been recycled from a building in Los Angeles being shot by a Martian War Machine.
- Several shots of collapsing buildings crushing hapless civilians beneath them were taken from two other 50s atomic horror movies, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.
- Techno Babble
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Mitch discovers that the bird's attacks can be connected by a spiral pattern. No one mentions that any series of points can be connected by a spiral.