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Phil Tucker's “Robot Monster” has been discussed, dissected, enjoyed and ridiculed by minds vast and cool and unsympathetic, which slowly and surely drew their plans against it. So, what can I possibly say that's new or worthwhile?

Well, the movie remains a fun time at the cinema, for mostly all the wrong reasons, but I would like to point out that its ridiculousness is not inherent in the material, but more in the presentation. (The main part of the movie is, after all, supposed to be a dream by a very young science fiction fan, and who among us hasn't had dreams that, upon awakening, came across as pretty silly? The difference is, that our dreams were forgotten as the morning progressed, but little Johnny's lives on, in digitally remastered eternity.) Had Ro-Man's costume been less garage-sale, and had the acting been better (less stentorian, less screechy, less incomprehensibly accented, less flatly blanded), and never mind the bubble machine and the dinosaurs, this would probably be a dimly-remembered fan favorite from the fifties, along with some of Roger Corman's lesser-known efforts, or the movie that it resembles most, Invaders From Mars. (And here I should point out that Mr. Ordung, credited with the screenplay, has said in interviews that his script was re-written by one of the funder's relatives, who was supposedly in the furniture business—shades of other writers, who were in the fertilizer business.)

So, what can I tell you about Robot Monster that you haven't already heard, I ask again? And my answer is, pretty much nothing.

So, instead, I'll present the entire film, in transcript, for your researching pleasures. This was all taken from my print of the film, during several sessions of very careful listening. There are, alas, a couple of words that resisted my repeated attempts to transcribe them; these, (as well as stage directions) are presented in square brackets, to the best of my ability to transcribe. Even though some of them must be “wrong” (as an example, there's a sequence in Ro-Man's first conversation with the Great One in which he appears to say “Boss, neck X.” I finally figured “neck X” was “Greatness” but still have no idea about “Boss”) I wanted to go by what was on the soundtrack, not by what “should” be there. If you know what the missing words are, by all means drop me a line, and I'll correct them and credit you. But for now, read on, memorize, and dominate the next party you're invited to with your amazing quote powers!

One further thing: No one should apologize for Ro-Man's ridiculously overwrought pseudo-scientific dialogue. After all, the makers of Star Trek: The Next Generation got away with exactly the same thing....


Robot Monster
by Wyott Ordung


Johnny – a young boy, perhaps 9 years old.
Carla – his younger sister, perhaps 5 or 6.
Alice – his older sister, 17 or 18. [In Johnny's dream, a brilliant scientist]
Mom – his mother.
The Professor – an archeologist. [In Johnny's dream, his father]
Roy – The Professor's assistant.
Ro-Man – alien from the moon, stationed on earth.
The Great One – Ro-Man's boss, leader of the Ro-Men.

[Open on Johnny, in full space-man regalia, as he walks about in a field. He walks up to Carla, points his gun, and makes zapping noises.]

Carla: Am I dead?

Johnny: You're disintegrated!

Carla: Good, does that mean we can play house now? You promised.

Johnny: These woods are full of space men. It's either them, or us. Come on.

[They walk towards a cave mouth. Inside, Roy and the Professor are examining cave paintings.]

Johnny: Spaceman, you must die!

Professor: Did you say something?

Roy [to the Professor, but indicating Johnny]: He says, we must die.

Professor: Oh well—well, if you insist, but...come here.

[Johnny sits on the Professor's knee.]

Professor: Wouldn't it be nicer if we could live at peace with each other?

Johnny [reluctantly]: Okay, I'll be from a friendly planet.

Carla: Good! Does that mean we can play house now?

Johnny: No! I'm friendly, but I still have to find out what they're doing here.

Professor: We, we are acheologists, boy. People who try to find out what men were like way back before they could read or write. The only way to pass on what they knew was through pictures like this one.

Roy: You see, our job is to chip it out carefully and take it to a museum, so people can study it.

Johnny: Gee, are you scientists?

Roy: It's even better than being cowboys, eh professor?

Professor: You bet.

Carla: Was he a spaceman robot?

Professor: As far as we know, there were no spacemen at those times, and robots either.

Johnny: He looks some of those people I saw last time I was on Pluto.

Professor: Oh! What's your name, son?

[VO] Johnny!

Roy: Uh oh, Johnny, it looks like you've stirred a little outside of your orbit, doesn't it?

[VO] Carla!

Johnny: Here we are, in the cave...[Mom and Alice enter] mother and sister. [To Roy, about Alice] Bet you'd like her!

Roy: No doubt!

Mom: Johnny, that wasn't fair!

Alice: You kids promised you'd take a nap right after lunch if we took you on this picnic, and off you scoot! [To Roy] I hope he hasn't given you any trouble?

Roy: Not at all...Johnny, at the camp I used to go to, we used to have to take a nap after lunch, right up until we were fourteen.

Johnny: You did?

Roy: Sure.

Johnny: Will you be here when I get back?

Professor: If we are, you are welcome to join us.

Alice: Come on, come on, quit stalling.

[The family moves off to the picnic area. Mom begins handing out various food and other items.]

Mom: Here dear. There you are. Take this too, darling. Good. Wanna take that?

Johnny: If dad was still alive, I bet he'd let me stay.

Mom: I don't think he would, John.

Johnny: Say, are we ever going to have a new father around our house?

Mom: I don't know, dear, would you like that?

Johnny: If we do, I hope he's a big scientist that makes rocket ships and things like that.


[Johnny wakes up. Everyone around him is asleep. Johnny runs toward the cave, and falls down. The screen rapidly flashes negative. A burning object flies through the sky and explodes. Stock footage of lightning, dinosaurs fighting. Another explosion fills the screen. Johnny wakes up. There several pieces of equipment around the cave entrance now. Johnny begins painting on the cave wall. The screen flashes negative again, and Johnny runs off and hides just as Ro-Man emerges from the mouth of the cave. Johnny watches as Ro-Man activates his viewscreen. Footage of meteors falling and other space scenes appear on the screen, then a building with a rocket on a launch pad nearby. Finally, the Great One appears. Johnny listens.]

Ro-Man: Extension Ro-Man, X-J-2, reporting to Guidance Ro-Man. I salute you.

Great One: You are late, fourteen minutes!

Ro-Man: Gravitational pull is stronger than reported, point 7652 higher than our planet.

Great One: Accepted. Report!

Ro-Man: May I ask first for other news?

Great One: Granted. No life has been discovered on any other planets. Earth is our only rival.

Ro-Man: [Boss, Greatness.] The Hu-Man knew about atomic energy, but had not mastered the cosmic ray. Wherever I directed the calcinator beam, they crumbled. At first, the fools thought it came from one among their many nations. They began destroying each other with hydrogen bombs. I announced myself to keep them from wiping out cities, which will give our people much amusement. Too late, they banded against me. Their resistance pattern showed some intelligence, but all are gone now. They way is clear for our people.

Great One: I want facts, not words!

Ro-Man: Fact A, my pulse has been reduced to plus zero zero.

Great One: Reject! Pair off!

Ro-Man: Pa--? But great guidance, I approved it! My energizer has scan-checked by square feet. No life above lepidoptera level exists.

Great One: My computator is more accurate. In the 22nd category, there is an error of sixteen billionths.

Ro-Man: The great one is never wrong. Then there are, perhaps, eight people left on earth?

Great One: Not perhaps—precisely. Find and destroy them! Then report back.

[As Ro-Man switches off the screen and returns to the cave interior, Johnny comes to the entrance and begins to walk inside. The screen flashes negative, and he runs off.]

[Cut to: A fairly destroyed house, all that is left is the basement level. The walls are strung with wire along which a jacob's ladder effect appears. The Professor is pacing back and forth, until he notices Johnny approaching.]

Johnny: Hey pa!

Professor: Shh! Mother, it's all right! He's here!

Johnny: Pa, what do you think!

Mom: I've a good mind to give you a thrashing, didn't we tell you, never, never, never to go outside of those wires, without our permission?

Professor: Mother, and you won't keep the boy from doing it again. We must tell him why. You know the terrible things that have happened when the Ro-Man landed on earth. The only reason we are still alive is that your sister Alice and I worked out a way to reflect his deadly beams away from the house. He can't see us, he can't hear us, but one word spoken outside the barrier, and he will be down on us. Do you understand that, Johnny?

Johnny: But I saw him!

Alice [VO]: Saw who? [She appears]

Johnny: Ro-Man, he's in a cave at the end of the ravine.

Mom: Then he's found us out.

Alice: Not yet, or we'd all be dead by now. Are you sure?

Johnny: I was in the cave, painting his picture the way we saw him on the viewer screen.

Alice: Why were you doing that, Johnny?

Johnny: So in case he did wipe out the human race, there'd be some record of how it happened.

Professor: Go on, go on!

Johnny: I heard him coming, ducked out just in time. Looked to me like he was making it his home.

Professor: Why here, why so close?

Johnny: Maybe we could kill him, huh, pop?

Professor: No, Johnny. The arms of the entire world tried, and failed. We have thrown everything we had at him, but he is impervious.

Alice: Unless...we could find his weak spot.

Johnny: Could I have just a little water, Mom?

Mom: Yes, dear.

Professor: But why here, why here?

Alice: Perhaps we're the last people on earth, dad. He senses our presence. He keeps calculating closer and closer.

Professor: I don't believe that. I'm sure there were some other scientific minds capable of rigging a foil, to prevent detection. If you only could find the way, only one way of communication with each other.

Alice: Do you think we still have a garrison on the space platform? Ro-man hasn't destroyed that, yet.

Professor: could be. If we only could get through to them. But why should we succeed, where others failed.

Mom: Don't you talk like that, dear.

[The viewscreen in the house activates.]

Professor: This may be them! Maybe they are coming through from the space platform!

[Ro-Man appears on the screen.]

Ro-Man: Hu-mans, listen to me! Due to an error in calculation there are still a few of you left! You escaped destruction because I did not know you existed! Now I know you are watching! I see five of you who have not been destroyed! Show yourselves, and I promise you a painless death!

Professor: Just the five of us left? But this is incredible! It means that Roy is gone too!

Johnny: I'll bet Alice is happy, the way they used to fight!

Alice [upset]: Don't say that, Johnny. Roy was a great scientist.

Professor: I would've never developed the serum without him.

Alice: The trouble was, he wouldn't admit I was good in my field.

Mom: Anyone who could fix that viewscreen after what that blast did to it is better than good.

Professor: Oh...easy, easy.

Alice: I'm sorry. Seems silly after all the terrible things that have happened. To go to pieces over one...miserable...egotistical, impossible guy! Oh, Roy!

Ro-Man: Do you wonder what happened to your fellows? Watch them! [Stock footage of an atomic bomb blast, negative photographs of cities, ruins, explosions appearing in a citiscape.] My calcinator beam wiped out your last sages, your last scientists in their deepest shelters. Everyone but you few. There is no escape from me. Very well, I will recalculate...your death will be indescribable! Fool hu-mans, there is no escape!

[The viewscreen switches off.]

Mom: Perhaps we should talk to him, try to arrange a truce, make peace!

Professor: He would be able to plot our position immediately. If Ro-man wants us, he should calculate us.

[Cut back to the cave. Ro-Man goes back into the cave. Roy, very much alive, hides near the entrance, then comes down and touches some of the equipment. An alarm sounds, and Roy hides again, as Ro-Man emerges again. He looks at the machine Roy touched and turns it on, then turns the viewscreen on.]

Great One: Have you made the correction?

Ro-Man: I need guidance, Great One. For the first time in my life, I am not sure.

Great One: You sound like a hu-man, not a ro-man. Can you not verify a fact?

Ro-Man: I meshed my LPI with the view-screen auditor, and picked up a count of five.

Great One: Error, error! There are eight!

Ro-Man: Then the other three still elude me. And all escaped detection by the directional beam. Is it possible they have a counter-power?

Great One: And if they have? Reduce, correlate, eliminate error! Is this not the law?

Ro-Man: I will find them, Great one. Trust me! And if the C-Ray fails, I will use physical means.

Great One: Planet Earth can revolve once more, then you must either report success, or I will sentence you for failure.

[The Great One switches off the viewscreen, and Ro-Man enters the cave again. Roy takes this opportunity to run off.]

[Back at the house, everyone is sleeping. Just then they hear noises outside and all wake up.]

Professor: Sh, it might be the ro-man! [He readies a revolver.]

Alice [Looking at the handgun]: If the atomic guns can't stop him...

Professor: It's not for's for us.

[Roy appears over the wall.]

Roy: Hi there, anybody home?

Several people: It's him! Yay! He's alive!

Roy: Do you know who's in the cave at the end of the ravine?

Alice and Johnny [almost at the same time]: Ro-man!

Roy: Well then—I, I was as close to him as I am to you!

Johnny: So was I!

Roy: But he didn't know that I was there! You know why?

Alice [slightly sarcastic]: Maybe you're not worth noticing.

Roy: Now, I know I'm in the right house.

Professor: Yes, and a moment ago, she was crying because you were dead!

Roy: Ha ha ha, you didn't have to waste any tears on me, honey, I bear a charmed life.

Professor: Ro-man spoke to us over the viewscreen. He said that we are the last five people on Earth. Is he lying, or are there any other people?

Roy: Two more, Jason and McCloud.

Alice: But why them? That doesn't make sense.

Roy: Oh, doesn't it? Look, the professor here spends his entire life trying to discover a serum, an anti-biotic serum that will cure all diseases, even the common cold, and, thanks to his wise choice of assitants, he manages to achieve his goal, and so, who does he experiment on with his first injections? Himself, his family, myself, and Jason and McCloud. Therefore, the great anti-biotic is also the immunizer to ro-man's death ray.

Professor: And I thought it was the electronic barricade around the house!

Roy: Well, that may prevent ro-man from finding us and blowing us up--

Alice [slightly sarcastic]: --which is nothing!

Roy: --but against the sweep of the death ray, it's powerless. No, the serum, that's the thing.

Professor: Couldn't you find any more in the lab?

Roy: Plenty! But I didn't bring it.

Alice: Why?

Roy: Because we managed to get together enough fuel to take a rocket ship to the space platform, and there's enough serum on board to immunize the entire garrison there.

Alice: Does the garrison know you're coming?

Roy: How could I tell them without letting ro-man know too?

Alice: They know what's going on down here—they'll figure it's ro-man and blast the ship right out of the sky. We'll have to get word to the space platform, that's all.

Roy: Jason and McCloud take off in two days. On foot, it would take me longer than that to get back there.

Alice: We'll have to re-wire the circuits on the viewscreen, so that we can broadcast without ro-man picking it up.

Professor: But such a complicated job in two days?

Alice: Well, at least I can try. If I only had a decent assistant, who could take orders, instead of trying to be the boss!

Roy: I'm bossy? You're so bossy you ought to be milked before you come home at night!

Professor: Children, children!

Roy: All right, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Professor. Okay, boss, where do I begin?

[Footage of mechanical and electrical parts being worked on by hands.]

Roy [VO]: Don't you have to loop it?

Alice [VO]: Roy, will you not argue, please?

Roy [VO]: You know something? You're either too beautiful to be so smart, or too smart to be so beautiful.

Alice [VO]: I guess we do get along all right, at that. But, let's work together now. We can play later.

[More footage of hands and mechanics.]

Alice [VO]: Roy, what time is it?

Roy [VO]: Four-thirty.

Alice [VO]: And what day, Roy? I can't remember the day! I'm so tired.

[More footage of hands and mechanics]

Alice [VO]: There. There. Oh Roy, we'll never make it!

[Back to the house. Everyone is standing around the viewscreen, Alice is exhausted]

Alice: I can't control my hands any more!

Roy: Let's rest a little.

Alice: Oh, but we can't.

Professor: Roy's's time you get some sleep.

Johnny: Jiminy, two days you've been at it!

Alice: Oh, not that long, it can't be that long!

Professor: The rocket ship must have taken off at dawn. They're either in the air by now, or--

Alice: Then I've failed you then. I'm sorry, Dad.

Roy: Failed, do you realize what you tried to do was impossible, yet you almost did it?

Alice: But I didn't!

[Ro-Man emerges from his cave and activates his viewscreen. Back at the house, his face appears on the screen.]

Ro-Man: Hu-mans! Yesterday I calculated five of you! Now, I find six.

Alice: He still doesn't know about Jason and McCloud!

Ro-Man: There were eight of you, the guidance ro-man who understands everything showed me that, yet I might have had trouble locating the other two, had they not taken off in a rocket ship and revealed their presence. Look, hu-mans!

[The image fades to footage of a rocket blasting off.]

Ro-Man: They are headed for the space platform, which guidance ro-man spared because it would have been a convenience for my people when they arrive on Earth.

[Now the viewscreen shows footage of a kind of jet plane in flight.]

Roy: The space platform!

Ro-Man: But now we shall destroy that too. [The original rocket is now shown speeding through the clouds] Alert! Ten, nine, eight...[The Great One appears on screen] the Great One himself sends the cosmic blast that atomizes the rocket ship—the space platform—[the Great One gestures, the screen flashes negative, and the rocket and “space platform” explode]. Hu-mans seven and eight, all! And now, of the two billion, there are six. Calculate your chances—negative. Negative. Negative. Is there a choice between a painless surrender death, and the horror of resistance death? Show yourselves! By your clock-time, in one hour I seek you out. Last warning!

[The viewscreen fades.]

Carla: Mommy, why doesn't he like people?

Mom: I don't know, darling...perhaps if we could talk to'd better go and rest, too. George, we can't go on this way much longer! Our food is almost gone.

Professor: What else can we do? Commit suicide, or give in to ro-man, as the last people on Earth?

Mom: George, talk to him, make him see that we won't harm him—he can let us live. If Alice could've finished re-wiring the viewscreen, you could have talked to the platform without ro-man discovering our presence, why can't you talk directly to him?

Professor: I could. Of course I could. As soon as Alice has had her sleep, I will.

[More footage of hands working on equipment.]

Alice [VO]:Not like that!

Roy [VO] Alice, look. You simply can't connect these two circuits.

Alice [VO] Here, let me.

[At the cave mouth, Ro-Man adjusts some equipment. He goes to the viewscreen, and activates it. The Professor and family appear on the image.]

Professor: Ro-man, ro-man! Do you scan us on your viewscreen?

Ro-Man: Yes, earth-man, I see you. This means only one thing: you have decided to take the easy way out.

Professor: No, ro-man. We have fought you to a stand-still. And we will go on doing it, as long as necessary. If you try to figure out our position, you are wasting your time.

Ro-Man: None shall escape me! I shall find a way to rid this earth's planets...of hu-mans!

Professor: No! We humans will not give up this earth of ours. But let me ask you something else. What do you have to fear from us? Let me show you the six people you want to destroy. [As he mentions each name, the camera pans to the person in question.] First, my wife Martha. My companion for twenty-three years. Is there anything to fear from this woman?

Ro-Man: The hu-man woman is the bringer of hu-man life! There must be an end to your race!

Professor: Or my children...Alice.

Ro-Man: No. I have a mission to perform.

Professor: Carla.

Ro-Man: I am built to have no emotions.

Professor: And Johnny.

[Johnny sticks his tongue out.]

Ro-Man: The boy is impertinent!

Professor: Or is it in the ettiquette code of your people, that children must be murdered?

Ro-Man: You are not like my people. You are savage barbarians, non ro-man, animals!

Professor: Take my assistant, Roy, who has developed a serum with me, which would have wiped out disease among my people.

Ro-Man: Wait. There is something I do not understand, quite. But I want to see the girl Al-ice again.

Alice: We want peace, ro-man. But peace with honor.

Ro-Man: I will talk with the girl. It is not in the plan, but although I cannot verify it, I feel that she will understand.

Professor: No! I am the head of this family unit. You have to talk with me!

Ro-Man: Calculate, hu-man! If I meet with the girl, I may find a way to integrate you into the plan! It is not a fact, but what you would call—a hope!

Professor: Name the place, ro-man—I will be there!

Ro-Man: I do not understand...but it is only the one called Al-ice that I want to see.

Alice: Here I am, ro-man. Where shall we meet?

Ro-Man: Do you know the area of the fork of the two dry rivers? There is a ruin there. I will meet you in an hour. But you must be...alone.

Alice: I will be there.

[The viewscreen goes dark.]

Professor: You will not—have you gone crazy?

Alice: We've played every other card, why not try this one?

Mom: Do you realize what you're doing?

Alice: If there's a chance I can strike a better bargain than father, then I'm the one to go.

Carla: Is Alice gonna have a date with ro-man?

Professor: This is madness, Alice! Roy, you have to speak to her!

Roy: I know I'm not in the family, Alice, but your father's right.

Alice: You mean, there are certain things nice girls don't do? Even if it means that man's millions of years of struggle up from the sea, the slime, to fight to breathe air, to stand erect, to think, to conquer nature, [even now is] to be stopped cold by a doting father and a jealous suitor?

Roy: I just don't think that any human being should degrade himself in order to survive.

Alice: You'd rather just have us go out of business, is that it? Letter returned, no forwarding address. Can't you see you're being sentimental idiots, letting your emotions run away with you?

Professor: Perhaps that is the quality of being human. The very thing that makes us different from ro-man. The difference we are trying to preserve.

Alice: Very pretty talk—but I still intend to do something about it.

[Roy blocks her path]

Alice: Get out of my way.

Roy: You're not going.

Alice: I said get out of my way!

Roy: And I said you're not going!

[Roy picks her up. Shouting by all parties while Johnny sneaks off. Elsewhere, Ro-Man is roaming the hillsides. Every now and then, the screen flashes negative.]

[Back at the house, Alice is tied up and everyone is waiting while the Professor is looking for Johnny]

Professor [VO]: Johnny! Johnny! [He steps into shot.] Johnny is gone!

Mom: You don't think he'd be outside in that?

Professor: Oh, that fool romantic kid will try anything! What a family I have!

Carla: I wouldn't do anything!

Professor: Johnny has left the barricade. He might have it in his head to find ro-man. We have to stop him.

Roy: Don't worry, Professor. Alice and I can find him.

Alice: I'll go, of course, but don't either of you speak to me!

[They untie her.]

Professor: But be careful of ro-man! When Johnny comes back, I will set off a flare.

Roy: Right.

[Cut to Ro-man, walking among the hills. Johnny runs across the landscape, noting the negative flashes. He arrives at a ruined house and meets Ro-Man, perched on a wall just out of his reach.]

Ro-man: What are you doing here, boy?

Johnny: My sister isn't coming.

Ro-Man: So they sent you?

Johnny: I came by myself. I wanted to find out what you had against me.

Ro-Man: You are hu-man. Your people were getting too intelligent. We could not wait until you were strong enough to attack us. We had to attack you first.

Johnny: I think you're just a big bully, picking on people smaller than you are.

Ro-Man: Now, I will kill you.

[The screen flashes negative as the Calcinator death ray is employed.]

Johnny: You look like a pooped-out pinwheel!

Ro-Man: So...the calcinator death ray REALLY cannot harm you. Your father must be a brilliant scientist.

Johnny: He's got a super-serum that keeps people from ever getting sick.

Ro-Man: How do you know it works?

Johnny: Cause he tried it on me and Carla and Alice and Roy...and everybody. And we don't get sick even when we swallow capsules with real bad bugs in 'em.

Ro-Man: And the two men who took off on the rocket ship? They also had this injection?

Johnny: Sure, they--[realizing he has said too much] Oh!

Ro-Man: You have told me all I need to know. I will calculate the spectrum dust in the calcinator death ray, to counteract this antibiotic. And you will all be destroyed.

[Johnny runs off, and Ro-Man shakes his fist at him. Ro-man leaves the ruins.]

[Cut to Roy and Alice, searching for Johnny. Roy removes his shirt. Suddenly they spot Ro-Man, who does not see them. Roy picks up Alice and dashes off. They hide in the tall grass. Ro-Man looks around briefly, flashes the death ray, then leaves. Then he turns around and walks back across the landscape.]

[Cut to Johnny, who is nearing the house. Mom spots him.]

Mom: George! George, there he is! He looks all right! Oh thank God, thank God!

Professor: Johnny! Johnny!

[The help him over the wall.]

Professor: Where did you go?

Mom: There, there, darling—it's all right. Now, tell us all about it.

Johnny: No it isn't, ma. I gave it all away! I didn't mean to, but I did.

Professor: You did what?

Johnny: I wanted to talk to ro-man, but he got out of me how we were protected from the death ray, and now he's gonna do something about it.

Professor: It's all right, boy. You did right. And ro-man won't find it easy to counteract the serum, so we have still a little time left.

Mom: I only wish it were over now.

Carla: Well, when it is, can I go over to Janey's house and borrow her dolls?

Mom: Oh!

Professor: Yes, er, of course, darling.

[Cut to a flashing, revolving light in the sky. We hear Alice and Roy in VO.]

Alice: Is Johnny safe?

Roy: Shh. [Bone in my ears.]

[Cut to them still in the grasses. Roy starts holding her arms, she pulls back. He holds her face, she turns and looks away. Cut to Ro-man wandering the landscape. Back to Roy and Alice, they are kissing. Cut back briefly to Ro-Man. Back to Roy and Alice, he tosses away a flower and she laughs. They mime some kind of conversation. And more kissing.]

[Fade into the landscape, and ro-man is still wandering around. He returns to his cave.]

[Back to the house. The Professor is showing a book to Johnny, Mom has Carla on her lap, in the background Roy and Alice are approaching. They mount the wall, the Professor helps them over.]

Professor: Oh! What has kept you two? We were worried!

Mom: Now, really, father, isn't it obvious?

Carla: Have you been playing house?

Roy: Professor, uh, it may sound silly to you, but Alice and I want to get married, and we were wondering how you'd feel about performing the ceremony.

Professor: You want me to--?

Alice: Oh, yes!

Professor: In that case, let's do it! And I want you to know—this is the biggest social event of the year! The whole darn town will turn out!

[Cut to ro-man, who emerges from his cave. After a brief moment of hesitation, he activates the viewscreen.]

Ro-Man: Great guidance, I have discovered the secret of our failure to destroy the remaining hu-mans! Our C-ray—the calcinator death ray—cannot penetrate them. They have been made immune through the anti-biotic serum, which I believe is the same as our formula X-Z-A.

Great One: Reduce their counterpart! Eliminate the error! Death to hu-mans can come by force!

Ro-Man: I will use physical means, Great One. The plan shall be fulfilled.

Great One: The planet Earth has half-revolved! You have but a short time to achieve our goal!

[The viewscreen goes dark and ro-man goes back into the cave.]

[Cut to the house, where Professor is preparing to perform the wedding.]

Professor: All right—places! [Roy and Alice approach him] Go! [He dum-dum's the wedding march.] Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to...dear Lord. You know that I am not trained for this job. But I have tried to live by your laws. The ten commandments...the beatitudes...the golden rule. I would like you to look down, on Alice and Roy, and give your blessing. Even in this darkest hour, we have kept the faith. In your grand design, there may be no room for man's triumph over this particular evil that has beset us. But if by any chance, victory should be on our side, I want you to give a long life to Alice and Roy, and a fruitful one. But no matter how it ends, Lord, watch over them this over us all. Amen. And now, I pronounce you “Man, and Wife.” Roy, do you have the ring?

Roy: Why, I didn't think about that.

Johnny: Oh, brother—are you going to have to pick up after him!

Mom [takes off her own ring and gives it to Roy, then speaks to Alice]: I wanted you to have it, some day, Alice.

Roy: With this ring, I thee wed.

Professor: The only thing to seal it now, is a kiss.

[They do.]

Johnny: Where are you going on your honeymoon, Niagara Falls?

Roy (laughing): Well, to tell the truth, we hadn't thought about that.

Professor: Wherever you go—be careful. And I want you back, the first thing in the morning. And in case you don't know, there is a war going on! And now, more than ever, I don't want to give up!

Roy: Thanks for everything, dad. Most of all, for having raised Alice. You too, mom.

Alice: I'll go get my things, and then we'll go.

Carla: She ought to have some flowers, it isn't right! [She runs off screen.]

[Ro-man emerges from his cave and strides purposefully across the landscape.]

[Roy and Alice are walking across the fields when Carla calls out.]

Carla: Roy, Alice, wait for me!

Alice: Carla, what are you doing here?

Carla: I didn't get you any presents. [She presents some wildflowers.]

Alice: Oh, you little rascal! Thank you very much. Now, you'd better run right on home!

Roy: Quickly, Carla.

[Carla runs off, and soon runs into ro-man.]

Ro-Man: What are you doing here alone, girl-child?

Carla: My daddy won't let you hurt me.

Ro-Man: We'll see! [He grabs her and carries her off camera. Then he returns, alone, to his cave, and activates the viewscreen.]

Ro-Man: Great guidance, I have a favorable report. I have already eliminated one of them. Force was necessary—it was a simple matter of...strangulation. That leaves four.

Great One: Error again! Five.

Ro-Man: Four and one more, on whom I have made an estimate, in relation to our strategic reserve. The plan should include one living human for reference, in case of unforseen contingency.

Great One: Do you question the plan?

Ro-Man: No, great one. I only postulate--

Great One: Proceed on schedule! Destroy the others. All of them!

[Viewscreen goes dark. Ro-Man goes into the cave.]

[Fade to the next morning. Roy and Alice are kissing again, unknowingly observed by ro-man, who attacks. Alice screams. Roy attacks but is beaten down. Alice attacks with rocks. Roy attacks again, but is thrown down an incline. Alice tries to run but Ro-man catches her. Ro-man carries off the screaming Alice.]

[Cut to Mom and the Professor, searching for Carla, whose body they find in a field.]

Mom: Carla! Carla, no, no no [sobbing].

Professor: Shh! He will hear you!

Mom [sobbing]: I don't care! I don't care!

Professor: You must care! You must not give up!

[Professor carries off Carla in his arms. Cut to ro-man carrying Alice in the same way. She is kicking and screaming.]

Ro-Man: I am ordered to kill you. I must do it with my hands.

Alice: How is it you're so strong, ro-man? It seems impossible!

Ro-Man: We ro-mans obtain our strength from the planet ro-man, relayed [through] our individual energizers.

Alice: Small enough to carry with you?

Ro-Man: No, mine is in the cave.

[Cut to the family at Carla's burial.]

Johnny: I wish now I'd played house with her more often when she wanted to.

Professor: No regrets, Johnny, we enjoyed her as long as she was with us, and now, somehow, we have to find a way to live without her.

[Roy runs in from the distance.]

Professor: Roy! Where's Alice?

Roy: Ro-man''s got her! [He collapses.]

[Cut to Ro-man carrying the screaming Alice. Professor examines him.]

Professor: Roy is dead...and nothing can be done. Nothing!

Johnny: Maybe one of us could lure him out for a moment, and then the others could run in and grab Alice.

Professor: That's easier said than done!

Johnny: He'd come if he could be sure of killing us.

Professor: Go on! Go on!

Johnny: We call him on the viewer screen. Tell him we don't want to fight anymore. He can get us in the ravine if he promises easy death. You slip in and grab Alice when he comes out after me.

Professor: It might work! There's no time to lose.

[They run off. Cut to ro-man carrying Alice to his cave. He puts her down, against the cave wall.]

Ro-Man: Suppose I were hu-man. Would you treat me like, a man? [He starts pawing her.]

Alice: No, ro-man—you haven't told me yet where the energizer is kept.

Ro-Man: Silence, girl! [He yanks open her straps, but she puts them back in place. The viewscreen activates. Ro-man is nonplussed. He ties up Alice, but can't quite get the knot right. He knocks her out instead and turns to the viewscreen. It is not the Great one, though, but Professor and family.]

Ro-Man: Why do you call me at this time?

Professor: Ro-man—we can't stand it any longer.

Ro-Man: I have made my last offer.

Professor: You promised us a painless death, if we give ourselves up. Come and get us!

Ro-Man: You can wait. Call me again at another time.

Professor: No! We will meet you half-way. In the ravine!

Ro-Man: All right! I will meet you in the ravine, when the sun passes over the mountains. [He cuts the transmission, and turns his attentions to Alice, who is now tied up. But as he reaches for her, the viewscreen activates again.]

Great One: Attention! Attention, extension X-J-2! Attention! Attention, extension X-J-2!

Ro-Man: We hear you, great guidance.

Great One: Earth ro-man, you violate the law of plan. Fact: you have captured the girl and not destroyed her. Fact: you have delayed accepting the surrender of the others. This verges on failure.

Ro-Man: There is one thing you do not understand, Great Guidance.

Great One: You reject the plan?

Ro-Man: I...wish to make an estimate of my own!

Great One: To think for yourself is to be like the hu-man.

Ro-Man: be like the hu-man. To laugh, feel, want...why are these things not in the plan?

Great One: You are an extension of the ro-men. And a ro-man, you will remain. Now, I set you into motion. One: destroy the girl. Two: destroy the family. Fail, and I will destroy you.

[The viewscreen goes dark.]

Ro-Man: I cannot, and yet I must. How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do “must” and “cannot” meet? Yet, I must. But I cannot.

[Cut to the Professor and the rest approaching the ravine. They kiss Johnny goodbye, give him a gun, and leave; he approaches Ro-man's cave.]

[Back at the cave, the viewscreen activates again.]

Great One: Attention! Attention extension X-J-2!

[Ro-man turns to answer, while Johnny runs toward the cave, and Mom and the Professor approach from another direction.]

Ro-Man: Speak, great guidance.

Great One: Why have you not killed the girl?!

Ro-Man: I must, but I cannot.

Johnny: Here I am, ro-man!

Great One: The girl first, then the boy! Now!

Ro-Man: Great guidance, I cannot kill the girl...but I will kill the boy.

Johnny [tosses away the gun—looks accidental]: Here I am!

Ro-Man: Al-ice, do not hate me—I must!

[Ro-man goes off to kill Johnny, and Professor and Mom rush in to rescue Alice. Professor throws some of Ro-man's equipment around.]

[On the planet Ro-Man, the Great one watches ro-man apparently with disapproval, Ro-man meets and starts to strangle Johnny, as the Great one continues to watch.]

Great One: You wish to be a hu-man? Good, you can die a hu-man!

[He gestures toward the camera and lighting comes from his fingertips. The film goes negative, there is footage of explosions in the air; ro-man, standing over Johnny's body, reacts as if in pain and dies.]

Great One: Human elements still roam planet Earth! I, the ruler of all ro-mans, shall complete your task, earth ro-man. I shall release our cosmic Q-rays! [Footage of lightning, stop-motion dinosaurs and an armadillo.] This will bring prehistoric reptiles to devour whatever remains of life! The cyclotronic vibrations will smash the planet earth out of the universe!

[More footage of lightning, flashes of negative film, dinosaur battles. The Great One gestures again, with more lightning bolts, and eathquake footage appears. Suddenly, the film dissolves to Roy carrying Johnny.]

Roy: Found him! Take it easy, son, you're all right.

Professor: How is he?

Roy: He's all right. [To Johnny] We just want to make sure you get up with everything you fell down with.

[They take him into the cave.]

Roy: [Shouting] Hey, I found him!

Roy: [To Johnny] That's quite a bump there, boy. What happened? Huh?

[Enter Mom, Alice and Carla]

Mom: Darling! Are you all right?

Roy: You gave your mother quite a scare!

Mom: Yes!

Roy: Here it was getting dark, and no Johnny!

Johnny [to Roy]: You're alive?

Roy: Yeah.

Johnny [pointing at Carla]: Her, too? Boy, was that a dream, or was it!

Mom: I must try and repay you for all the trouble you've gone to...won't you and your assistant join us for dinner?

Alice: Do!

Roy: Done!

Carla: Will you play house with me when we get home?

Johnny: Well...oh, all right. But I gotta keep an eye out for ro-man!

Alice: Really, Johnny. You're overdoing this spaceman act. There simply aren't any such things.

Mom: Come on, dear. This way.

[They all walk out of camera. Pan to the cave mouth, where a superimposed Ro-Man emerges from the cave, arms spread in menace, three times.]


Postscript: Well, you knew I wasn't going to shut up about this, right? At any rate, you can skip from here on service to humanity is secure, now, that future generations will know exactly how humanity met our end.

Science fiction is an ongoing, evolving form. It chews up and digests its elders like no other art form, except maybe popular music and movies (a subject for a different time). What's interesting is the lag between written science fiction (where it all began) and its mass market cousins, science fiction films.

SF films have (surprisingly) lagged quite a bit behind their literary brethren. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Star Wars, which in 1977 dazzled us all with the beautifully realized imagery that written science fiction had projected onto our mindscreens way back in the 1930's.

The abbreviated point? Just this—Robot Monster was made in 1953. Have you ever read the anthology edited by Isaac Asimov, called Before The Golden Age? It was a collection of stories written before John W. Campbell assumed editorship of Astounding Science Fiction Magazine, and thus ushered in the “Golden Age” of science fiction (of which Asimov, until his untimely death, was a prominent part).

If you've never read the book (published in three paperback volumes) it's well worth seeking out, if only to show the roots of a literary form. Some of the stories are great, some are strained, and some are flat-out two-headed cousins in the SF family tree.

My point? “Robot Monster,” had it been published as a work of (written) fiction “before the Golden Age,” would have fit pretty well into this anthology. Where time and the thick glasses of fandom (yes, I've got mine) would look upon it kindly as a precursor to greater things.

Instead, it appeared as a film, which entails different standards, which, alas, Mr. Tucker was unable to meet. I mean, you only have to say “gorilla suit with a diving helmet” to stifle anyone who wants to say something nice about this film. “Billion bubble machine” only tightens the death grip. Let's be plain here: NO ONE is ever going to say this film is an unsung masterpiece. (Unsung? Oh wow...a musical based on Robot Monster! Someone's going to be rich, but it sure ain't gonna be me. I have GOT to stop giving away all my brilliant ideas on this here internet thing!)

But written works have a much easier time of it. Had Robot Monster been a short story, well, he could have been a robot monster, not a gorilla in a diving helmet. And no Billion Bubble Machine! No, those “bubbles” as you primitive hu-mans see them, would be pure, powerful, first-generation Jack Kirby Molecular Disturbance!

Ignore the fact that I have had a crippling case of Writer's Block for the last few years, and induge me as I say: with words, you have no limits. With film, you have a budget. And sometimes, a brother-in-law in the furniture business. And sometimes, a gorilla suit.

I've tried to keep the editorializing out of the transcript above, because like most people who like science fiction, and science fiction movies, I've got a soft spot for Robot Monster (it's right here in my head). It's all supposed to be a dream, after all (though as Jabootu points out, little Johnny definitely has some issues) and dreams aren't meant to be hit with the sharp-edges of reality. How many of our dreams would get a thumbs-up by film critics? I thought not.

Anyway, I'll close here by saying two things. One, the collection of comic books that the credits play over is either a) a really great collection, or if they're fakes, b) an incredible simulation. Someone out there knew what looked good. Those covers look so real, they're Stomp Tokyo good, that's how good they are.

Secondly, yes, to our hu-man eyes, Ro-Man looks pretty ridiculous (and he talks funny too, just like the Battlefield Earth aliens). But consider: he is, after all, an alien being. We have no idea who or what awaits us out there. I hope, myself, that if we do meet alien beings (and I honestly hope we do) that if they look like gorillas with diving helmets (and they might!) that we don't start laughing at them. They might be quick to take offense, and, after all, we have no defense against their dread Calcinator Death Rays.

Imagine that: they wipe us out, and while exploring our dead culture, come across a copy of Robot Monster. Bet they'd be surprised, and maybe look upon our vast works with a new and dawning respect. Maybe.

Goodnight, Phil Tucker, and goodnight, Wyott Ordung. Sleep ye well, oh ye pioneers.

September 8, 2004