Whatever else you may
think about this movie, it has one of the A-List Most Impressive Titles
Around, one of those you could walk into the Money Guy's Office, simply
state the title, and walk out with a picture deal. Far better than its
alternate title, Mars Invades Puerto Rico. Although either title
pretty much sums up the plot.
In fact, to call the
plot of Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster paper-thin is to
the thickness of paper. NASA's last few rockets have blown up, so they
decide to send up android Frank Saunders (Robert Riley) instead. But
it seems some aliens have been blowing up the rockets, and they blow
up Frank's, too, then follow him down and try to finish the job. They
only succeed in toasting one side of his face, however, and scrambling
his electronic brain, so he operates on only the most basic instinct:
survival, thus rendering him one of the title monsters (FRANK
Saunders... FRANKenstein! Get it? Get it? Hah? Get it?)
The aliens... comprised
of the beautiful Princess Marcuzan (Marilyn Hanold), her sidekick, the deliciously-named Dr. Nadir (Lou Cutell),
and some space-helmeted cannon fodder, are the sole survivors of some
Atomic War and are here to shop for "Breeding Stock", by which
we mean Bikini Babes. As the Cannon Fodder, armed with specially-modified
Hasbro Air Blasters, go about capturing said Babes and bringing them
back to their spacecraft, Frank's creators (James Karen and Nancy Marshall)
find him and patch him up. Frank winds up on the spacecraft and frees
the Babes. The aliens unleash Mull, the other titular monster, he and
Frank fight some, then Frank heroically blows up himself and the spacecraft.
There is much that is
quintessentially cheesy to recommend Frankenstein Meets the Space
Monster to the Bad Movie Fan. First, there are the two standbys
of the LOW budget movie: stock and travelogue footage. As our heroes
drive to (then) Cape Kennedy, we are treated to scintillating billboards
and road signs. The creators search for the injured Frank by hopping
on a seriously underpowered scooter and touring scenic Puerto Rico.
Easily a third of this flick is stock footage: tons of cool NASA stuff
and the filmmaker's friend, Army wargame material. To their credit,
the fillmakers tried to make these passages more palatable by scoring
them with a couple of rock tunes by The Distant Cousins and The Poets.
Unfortunately, they deemed these songs so good that each is used twice
(the soundtrack is, actually, pretty dang good. Anybody know if an album
was ever released?) (Hey, I can dream, can't I?) And why the
heck does nobody look at the half-burned guy in a flight suit and ask
the obvious: "My God, can I get you a doctor?" Instead they
opt for attacking him, and Frankie does the predictable thing. (Actually,
as I recall, upon first seeing this at about 12 years of age, this made
perfect horror movie sense.)
James Karen (Perhaps best known to
readers of this page through his work in Poltergeist and The
Return of the Living Dead films) turns in a surprisingly unsympathetic
performance as Frank's creator, Adam Steele (snort), treating Frank
and assistant Marshall with an equally uncaring attitude. In Marshall's
case, that's not surprising, as she is one of the whiniest scientists
on record. Every line is delivered as if on the verge of tears, and
(in stark contrast to the Bikini Babes) when she is captured by the
aliens, she screams, struggles and begs enough for a batallion of bad
actresses. I suspected there was a reason her character was not given
a line for nearly the first 30 minutes of the film, but I had no idea....
With two such unlikable protagonists,
we tend to gravitate more towards Marcuzan and Nadir,
who at least have good old reliable concupiscence going for them. Nadir
in particular really loves his job, and it shows. A scene
where Marcuzan and Nadir inspect the first of the Bikini Babes is a
small gem of sleazery.
The makeup also sadly lacks - don't
even try counting the seams on the bald caps, just try not to wince
at the poor putty pointy-ears - but Mull is a pretty cool monster,
and it's unfortunate that, next to him,
Frank's quick-fried makeup just plain fails.
Actually, director Robert
Gaffney does a pretty good job; there are a couple of very good uses
of freeze-framing, the editing is fairly solid, and even the spaceship
interiors are good - you have to look pretty closely to see the wood.
Although I did notice that, just as in Robot
Monster, we are dealing with Wrinkled Telescreen Technology.
Overall, though, this
is a fine Bad Movie - one you can enjoy to its fullest while tormenting
your friends with it's very existence. Movie party, anyone?