The Bad Movie Report

Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster

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 seriously Why not Frank Einstein?  Jeez.underestimate 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, theMake it so. 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. The end.

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. Nancy Marshall. Crispy Critter.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....

Ooooh... love that Nadir!With two such unlikable protagonists, we tend to gravitate moreBad Movies of Gor 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.


FrankensteinThe 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'sThe Space Monster 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?



Rockin' stock footage and bikini babes!

- January 4, 1998