Ahhhh the memories. I was a kid, maybe 11 years old the last time I blundered into Robert Gaffney's stunningly awful Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster. It was aired on UHF TV as part of the Saturday afternoon "Creature Double Feature". I don't remember what it was paired with that particular afternoon, but I do distinctly remember getting up about forty minutes into the film, and going outside to play in the traffic.
To call this film bad is an insult to bad movies. Now, with the jaded eye of an adult, and the keeper of the Horrorview Hall of Shame, I can say that Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster is just about the worst 77 minutes of celluloid ever assembled. Director Robert Gaffney makes Edward D. Wood Jr. look like Cecil B. DeMille
The plot of the film is as recycled as just about everything else in the film. Aliens from Mars are on a "survey" mission to the Earth (this abruptly changes later) when, due atomic war way back in Mars' history, decide to steal some of Earth's lovely ladies for reproductive purposes. The Martians are led by outlandish headgear wearing Princess Marcuzan (Marylin Hanold) and Dr. Nadir (Lou Cutell).
A few other bald-wig-and-pointy-eared wearing aliens are on board with them, as is a shaggy monster of unknown and undescribed origin.
Meanwhile, a space agency is sending a top-secret humanoid robot, known as Captain Frank Saunders (Robert Reilly) on a mission to Mars. The Martians mistake the Mars-bound rocket for a defense missile and shoot it down. Frank lands back on Earth, damaged, just in time to thwart the alien's plan with the help of his scientist friends.
You'd think it would be relatively easy to put a decent flick together with this plot, but that doesn't happen here. Some of the problems can be based on the sub-miniscule budget, others can be blamed on the inability of anyone in the film to act, yet more blame can rest on the 40 or so minutes of stock footage used to pad out the film, and finally, even more can be blamed on the hilariously awful special effects, and finally, the rest thumps over and dies at the feet of the stunningly terrible script.
Shot largely in Puerto Rico and parts of Long Island (and mixed with agonizing passages of stock footage from Cape Canaveral) the film looks just as cheap and shitty as something shot in Long Island and Puerto Rico can be.
Gaffney's direction consists almost exclusively to standing the camera up and letting it roll until whatever the hell is taking place in frame walks, drives, or runs out of frame. Only one person involved in this film went on to a successful career, Lou Cutell, who made a hundred or so appearances on TV series and in films after his, er, triumph as Dr. Nadir in Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster.
All of this said, Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster can be a 77 minute laugh riot if you have the right audience. I subjected erstwhile movie buffs Mrs. McLargehuge and Gristle McThornbody to this one and we laughed so goddamn loud it woke up the kids. Watch as Dr. Nadir struggles not to burst out laughing during his close-ups. Marvel at the clearly visible seams of the bald wigs the Martians wear. Make pithy comments about the Protestant wedding centerpieces modeled by Princess Macuzan as hats. Thrill to the sight of a TV tube installed in the prosthetic head of Frank. Scream at the hilarious changes in scale of the Martian attack craft (a geodesic dome on stilts). Make constant "gaydar" jokes whenever Dr. Nadir is caught on camera checking out the ass of the Martian guy standing beside him.
It's a friggin hoot I tell you. Just don't try and think about what you're watching and the 77 minutes goes by pretty quick. Otherwise, I think the film is so long you go back in time. I had to watch it twice, once with the gang, and once alone (for the review). The second time was torture.