Back with another of those movies just not quite bad enough to fall into the so bad they’re good category. In watching this film, I was amazed at just how bad it actually was, when I’d hoped for one of those goofy fifties films I so love. Other than the one brief moment of a fight, all the characters did was stand around talking. It’s also the second film in a row I’ve highlighted that opened with a montage of mushroom clouds(A Boy and His Dog is vastly superior of course) and somber words about the atomic war.
Ninety-two percent of the human race was destroyed and the robots were developed to help the human race survive. No mention of how lucky it was that, in the surviving eight percent, were enough brilliant scientists to come up with the robots, enough materials to build this gleaming new world, hell, enough artisans to build the world. Even with all that, the birthrate drops every year. The human race is dying.
It’s sufficient time past that unfortunate war that, by now, robots were being designed and built by other robots. They had their own temples, really charging stations, that humans weren’t allowed to enter and the Father-Mother, the massive computer that handles all that and directs all robots.
Cheap sets, a lot of drapes hanging around, generic jump suits for the humanoids, old rebel caps. It was filmed in color unlike a lot of this type film at the time. They did manage to land two “names,” though in the twilight of their careers. Hal Mohr had two Oscars to his credit. He was the cinematographer. During the thirties and forties, Jack Pierce was a well known makeup artist, creating the iconic designs for Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein.
There’s a radical group of racist humans, The Order of Flesh and Blood, opposed to the human looking robots. The others don’t bother them. They maintain the humanoids are out to destroy the human race and refer to them as “clickers.” They are lead by The Cragis(Don Megowan, one of two actors I recognized in this mess), Captain Kenneth Cragis. He learns early in the picture that his sister has formed a rapport(like a marriage) with a “clicker,” an embarrassment to him.
A renegade scientist, Doctor Raven, an old man working with the humanoids has developed a process to take the memories of a human recently dead and transfer them to a robot body, called a thalamic transfer, dubbing them R-96s. The law maintained the robot’s intelligence level couldn’t be above an R-46. He begs them to kill him when the Cragis and his band were breaking into his home. He then reappears later in the film as a younger version, his memories planted in an android body.
I thought I knew where this one was headed and was partially correct, though they did have one surprising revelation for me.
And though his name is never mentioned, they do make a nod to Asimov’s Laws of Robotics. When a robot kills the human, Doctor Raven, violation of rule one is mentioned.
In the course of just a couple of hours, laid out in the film, the Cragis meets his sister’s best friend when he goes to try to talk her out of the rapport, leaves with her, falls in love after one kiss, and talks of marriage. All in the middle of the night.
The second actor I mentioned was Dudley Manlove(what a last name; did that say something), one of the Humanoids and one of the stars of my favorite bad movie, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. And with that Ed Wood reference, I’ll mention that one reviewer on IMDb classified Wood as a more esthetically pleasing director than this mess’s Wesley Barry. How’s that for a recommendation?
A lot of bad acting, cheap sets, and a fairly boring script add up to a rotten movie. At least for me. Some reviewers actually liked this, calling it a “minor” classic. Really minor I think.
For more good overlooked movies, check out Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.