Tuesday, July 13, 2010
A while back I did a 3D movie night with my kids. We did this at home, not at the theater, and it wasn’t with the new high-falutin’ new-fangled overpriced stuff you see coming out at the stores. We watched Robot Monster in 3D with the old fashioned card-board glasses.
The kids liked the movie, which shows me I’m doing something right as a parent. And it took me back to when I was a kid, watching this movie on a Saturday afternoon with Sir Graves Ghastly, who was a local TV movie host that dressed up as a vampire.
The great thing about Robot Monster is that it is truly one of the worst movies ever made, and yet, somehow, it is wonderful to behold. The sheer audacity of putting a man in a gorilla suit with an old fashioned diving helmet for a head, paired with a cave and a bubble producing communication machine . . . I am stunned by the bravery of the man who made this film. And it holds the distinct honor of almost always being listed among some of the worst movies ever made.
But let me tell you a not-so-secret secret: The films that end up on the worst movies ever made lists are not really the worst movies ever made. What they are is low budget films that really should be bad, and certainly are bad on a technical level, but somehow people love to watch them. Just like people like cheesy songs. Just like people love to eat weird disgusting food.
Robot Monster is one of the best of the worst. Way.
And yet, it was apparently a bad experience for the director, Phil Tucker. Not the making of the film, but the reviews. From every story I’ve read, he had a blast making the movie. He thought he had a classic on his hands. But when it first came out, according to some different sources, Phil Tucker attempted suicide in response to the profoundly negative reviews.
People laugh about this now, but I’m sure it wasn’t funny to Phil. Not at the time. And I can relate. I have received some pretty negative reviews in my life too. I have produced things that people have torn apart with their words and attitudes. It’s amazing how hard people will beat you down. They seem to enjoy it. And for what? For not meeting their expectations.
But Phil made it through, somehow. He kept at it. He went on to direct five or six more movies, including a movie starring comedian Lenny Bruce. None of them were quite as bad as Robot Monster, but you can’t come up with a winner every time.
The good news is that Phil found his wings. He became a very successful editor working on big budget films in Hollywood for the rest of his career. He also earned a U.S. Patent for a turbine engine that he created.
He was a very smart man.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2010