Being awake at 3 AM on a regular basis to feed my son, I end up watching some odd things. For instance, I’ve now seen Daredevil far too many times than I’d ever admit. However, Saturday mornings are always fun thanks to AMC’s Fear Friday which usually has something interesting. This week was the ‘classic’ 50’s flick Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster.
My background in post-graduate studies of Mystery Science Theater 3000 could not prepare me for the amount of stock footage passing for plot. A pair of scientists create a robot pilot for a trip to the moon only to have the craft shot down by aliens on their way to launch an invasion at the same time. Isn’t it always the way? Both parties land in Puerto Rico to do battle. The robot pilot named Frank (no kidding) gets half of his faced melted off and turns into a blood-thirsty monster roaming the countryside killing anyone who looks at him funny. Meanwhile the aliens round up some local bikini-clad ladies to repopulate their nuclear war-ridden homeworld.
So, your typical 50’s monster movie.
The real star of course of the villainous Dr. Nadir who gloats like nobody’s business under his bald cap and Mr Spock ears. Honestly, I’ve never witnessed such an inspired performance. The man utters lines such as ‘Maximum energy!’ as if he were in a stage production of the Tempest. This guy puts Doctor Who’s Anthony Ainley to shame with his over-the-top acting and glances to the camera. He is a sheer delight and it is sad to hear that he did not do more filmwork in his career.
Maybe the oddest thing in this film is the soundtrack, consisting of pop songs. This must have been an oddity at the time and while the songs themselves are fantastic time capsules of the 60’s (The Poet’s “That’s the Way It’s Got to Be” and “To Have and to Hold” by the Distant Cousins) they completely transform the film from a sci-fi horror film into something wholly other. I mean what is the reason behind playing “That’s the Way It’s Got to Be” while watching stick footage of an astronaut preparing for launch aside from the fact that it’s a ricking tune? And a mad race against time to find the man-made astronaut turns into a pleasant afternoon on a Vespa thanks to “To Have and to Hold.” It’s so bizarre that it has to be seen to believed.
I really do adore this kind of film that embraces the dancehall rock’n’roll era of Americana and because of its obvious flaws as a movie it is even more adorable. In the spirit of the Creeping Terror and Monster A-Go-Go, this is a badly made movie that reinforces the feeling that I was born too late.
Oh and there’s a monster named Mull who will roar and eat you if you fail at your job.