ROBOT MONSTER that absolutely awful 1953 science fiction movie which had been envisioned to make some bold antinuclear war message, but instead turned into a laughfest by audiences just turned 60. Released back in June 1953, and produced on a mere $16,000 budget, the film earned such a reputation for being so terrible it actually earned back $1,000,000 at the box office and much more in later royalties as major companies such as Rhino actually rereleased 3D videotape versions of this simply awful movie.
From the very beginning this movie was deeply troubled. Not only was the story written by Wyatt Ordong not really worthy of a film adaptation, but there wasn’t any money in the meager $16k budget to afford a decent robot costume, so this unfortunate money situation came down to using his overweight friend, George Barrows, who weighed about 300 pounds in a gorilla costume wearing what looked like a deep sea diving helmet. It made for perhaps the most absurd monster in the history of horror or Sci Fi films. From the very first screenings at the theaters, the movie evoked laughter for the absurd costume and use of cheap props such as a bubble machine used as the robot’s communication device.
The 25 year old director and producer of the film, Phil Tucker, later had depression about not receiving his fair share of royalties from the film’s distribution and even attempted a failed suicide with a gun, but as bad as this film was, it did still manage enough good film reviews who found it enjoyable because it was so bad to actually make a good return on the production investment. The film only ran just 62 minutes, where apparently film was too expensive to afford much of as well. From a business standpoint, ROBOT MONSTER has proven itself to be a worthy investment and very profitable. When you only invest $16,000 in a film, it’s hard to lose that money no matter how bad your movie actually is.
Nowadays, many film critics rate this movie as a serious contender for the worst movie ever made, although most film critics still give Ed Wood that top honor for his horrible PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Personally, I find Ed Wood’s movie much more enjoyable to sit through than ROBOT MONSTER.