Any fan of cult movies, turkeys, MST3K, or just a lover of crazy sci-fi/horror films, knows of the 1953 classic Robot Monster. You know the one…featuring a man in a gorilla suit wearing a space helmet? An image that is kind of hard to forget. It is usually found at the top of most Best of the Worse Film Lists. But no matter how bad some might think it is, or that it was supposedly shot in only 4 days, or that the title terror has to be one of the most unique movie monsters ever, it is still an entertaining movie, even if you are shaking your head through most of the time! And if you are entertained, then it is not a bad movie, right?
But what is even more astounding is the fact that someone has written a book about this movie and the people behind it. And not just a book…but one that is just shy of 700 pages!!!
I Cannot, Yet I Must: The True Story of the Best Bad Monster Movie of All Time: Robot Monster was published by Radiosonde Books at the end of last year and is available on Amazon for a mere $31.99. Remember, this is almost 700 pages, so well worth the price. But one might be thinking, not only how someone could write a tome of this size about this crazy flick, but also why? So to answer those questions, I reached out to the author of this new book, Anders Runestad, to see if he could shed some light on these questions.
So Anders….the million dollar question….Why?
“I had long wished there was a book about Robot Monster, simply because it is such a unique film. There are other bad monster movies, but nothing quite matches a gorilla wearing a diving helmet (that is not really a diving helmet) while talking to himself about his feelings between bursts of making ineffectual threats to the last people on Earth. There is just nothing to compare to this movie’s blend of surrealism and unintended humor, but I also found it intriguing that so little was known about director Phil Tucker. Eventually, when the opportunity arrived, I realized that I had to do it myself instead of waiting for someone else to get around to it.”
Was it a difficult task seeking out information on a few over 60 years old?
“There really wasn’t that much difficulty in researching the book, but I think that this is a side effect of how long it took. It really started all the way back near the end of 2005, when I found some contact information for Harry Medved, who once interviewed Phil Tucker in the late 1970s. Little of that interview made its way into the Medved bad movie books, and Harry very graciously gave me access to that material so that it could be quoted. From there, it was just something I kept working on during lunch hours, evenings, and weekends. Since family and work are my focus, it was something I had to do in my spare time. But I had no set schedule, and so there were long stretches where I would do things like pore over old issues of Hollywood Reporter and so on, and I would find many little details on this and that.”
696 pages. Wow. Did you ever think that you were going to end up with this massive size tome?
“I was initially skeptical that anyone could write an entire book on this topic, so that probably motivated me to sponge up anything I could find, and it eventually resulted in a pretty detailed book. Of course, it’s not purely about Robot Monster, and delves into the lives and careers of those who made it, but especially Mr. Tucker. I have to also say that his son, Phil Tucker Jr., is someone who contributed a great deal with his memories and support of the project. And Tom Weaver, who is pretty legendary for his research into classic horror history, was an immense help. You might well believe that people would think I had a screw loose for writing a book about Robot Monster, but I found it kind of hilarious that I never encountered that reaction. (Maybe some people were being polite!)”
Thanks for the info, Anders. I have already ordered my copy and can’t wait to dig into it. I’m sure I’ll have a review posted once I do get through it too. You can order your own copy from Amazon by clicking HERE.
And on a related side note, if you are a big fan of Robot Monster, than you might want to look into the upcoming Monster Bash show, taking place on July 8th-10th, in Mars PA. They have two guests that starred in this epic Turkey, Claudia Barrett and Gregory Moffett. For all the information about this show, just click HERE.