Bad Movies Beware!
Well, I’m back from the dead here on Fail-Flix. Been a hell of a hiatus, I can tell you. ConCarolinas went great, and I’m already working on a few panels with Bill Mulligan and Braxton Ballew (of Valentine Wolfe) for next year! Attended ConGregate and sold out of books for my author side in July, and spent a week in Atlanta afterwards. I’ve also pitched four panels to Atomacon in November.
Yeah. Thank God for beer.
Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster was one of the films Bill and I covered in our panel “Movies in Minutes” at ConCarolinas, though I’d only gotten time to watch about a fourth of it before that weekend. Now that I’ve had a moment to breathe, I’ve sat down at watched it in its majestic entirety.
Much like a squirrel sits in the road and begs for traffic.
The film is about a group of aliens traveling to Earth to carry out a plan. The Princess (read: blonde chick dressed in Christmas decorations) leads the group, and their ship (read: set built in someone’s garage) is armed to the teeth for combat.
Her companion is Dr. Nadir, a pointy-eared alien dude with no personality and enough lipstick on to share with Tammy Faye Bakker and still have some left over. He’s played by Lou Catrell, who you’ve probably seen playing the proctologist on Seinfeld in an episode or two.
In the other corner, we have Frank from NASA. He’s a robot built in secret to look like a normal man. The plan is to shoot him into space as a test subject on a mission to further Earth’s exploration of the solar system. Dr. Adam and Dr. Karen are the ones behind the construct and are completely unaware of the approaching alien menace.
I should go ahead and note that this movie’s story is told in small scenes that break up the montages. I’m not kidding. For those of you who are still fuzzy on the whole montage thing, a montage is basically a bunch of images and footage spliced together into a single cohesive format and shown with music in the background. They’re typically used to save time and move the story along. Most movies have them, but this movie overuses them worse than Gordon Ramsey with a bag full of f-bombs.
The first montage shows Frank boarding the space shuttle along with the catchiest montage music EVER. “That’s the Way it’s Got to Be” by the Poets WILL stick in your mind worse than a Britney Spears song.
Meanwhile, the aliens see the launch and believe that the ship is a missile aimed at them. They fire on it with “Maximum Energy” and destroy the ship. This is actually the second one they’ve destroyed, but the footage from inside the alien ship is recycled for both scenes. The Princess realizes that the “missiles” were actually ships and has Dr. Nadir punish a minion by putting him in with the Space Monster.
The Space Monster, actually, doesn’t look terrible. It’s a man in a suit with no puppetry or animatronics whatsoever, but the design isn’t bad. Would be funny as hell for trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
The aliens land the ship and commence with their plan: to capture all women of the planet Earth and use them to repopulate their home world.
Frank survives the destruction of the ship but is damaged, thus making him a “Frank-enstein” according to Karen. Yeah, I booed at that line, too. Pretty much a way to cram the fact that our hero is NOT Victor Frankenstein’s monster right where the montages don’t play.
The rest of the film is a lot of rinse and repeat. The aliens crash parties and kidnap women while Frank wanders the area attacking people in his confusion. Karen and Adam enjoy a montage of driving through the city from place to place, then go searching for him. They find him and get him under control, but the aliens take Karen and put her in with the Space Monster for being defiant.
Adam calls for help, and we get the montage of the military pulling in and firing on the spaceship. The aliens laugh it off since the ship is indestructible, but Dr. Nadir realizes that the humans have nukes, which the ship will not withstand.
Frank happens upon the ship and the aliens lock him up. He escapes, frees Karen, and engages the Space Monster in a quick battle of who can grab whose arms and struggle the most. No blows, no shoving around, not even a pimp slap. Karen gets rescued by Adam, and the ship takes off. Frank and the Space Monster keep fighting, and the ship malfunctions and explodes in the air.
Not surprisingly, the film ends with a montage. Is it a new montage? NOPE! It’s the montage of Frank and Karen riding through the streets on a scooter recycled with credits overlaid on top of the shot.
VERDICT: Well, if I can’t sleep one night…no, I’ll just drink.
I actually sat through this movie twice. The first time I only caught about a quarter of the film before I fell asleep on the couch. I woke up during a montage with absolutely NO idea as to what the hell was going on. The movie drags like a sloth with a bum leg for the first bit and doesn’t really gain any steam whatsoever until Frank takes off in the shuttle and gets shot out of the sky.
Even then, it’s still a little dull.
The sound is fairly standard fare for budget films of the sixties. Canned effects, and most of them recycled from the crash studio archives. The ones most overdone are crashes, explosions, rocket blast-off effects, and doors opening and shutting. The montage music isn’t bad, but each montage plays the song in its entirety. So if the song is three minutes, you’re in for an insanely long montage. This is pretty bad, actually, because a LOT can go down in a minute in any movie.
The sets and effects are on the cheap. Let’s not lie here, people: the set pieces were totally done in a garage or something. The spaceship is a “bigger on the inside” situation, and you can plainly see the Earthling four-foot fluorescent light fixtures on the ceiling during shots when people are running through the corridors. Even the lab at NASA is limited to basically a countertop with a TV on it and a few beakers.
The big finale is an utter mess. The fight between Frank and the Space Monster is quick and lackluster with shoddy camerawork that makes it almost unwatchable. Pretty much akin to someone with a VHS camera going to a wrestling match in the eighties. Only worse. And in black and white.
I’m giving it the full six Piles of S**t. The movie has a “done-to-death” premise on the alien side, and the “Frank-enstein” aspect isn’t much more than lazy writing meshed with an attempt to draw more people in thinking that they’re going to see ol’ flat-top go toe-to-toe with a carnivorous goat farmer from Planet X. Do yourself the favor of not searching it on YouTube. And if Ted Turner decides to force it on you one Halloween or something, hit up Netflix and see if Glitter Force has any new episodes. Yes, I’d rather watch faeries imbued with ultimate Girl Power than watch this montage-driven mess again.