12/6/06

103 The Mad Monster

(1942, Horror-Mad Science, b&w), with:

Commando Cody in Radar Men from the Moon: Chapter Two, Molten Terror
(1952, SciFi Serial/Children, b&w)

I'll create an army of wolfmen...and an army of men behind them with pooper-scoopers.

Rating: 1/2*

In a nutshell:

Short: Cody steals a moon gun and gets chased into a cave.
Film: A mad scientist turns his assistant into a werewolf.

Short Summary:

In our last episode, our intrepid hero Cody fought with the Moon Men while their leader Retik struggled to reload his ray gun. In the rest of the episode, Cody escapes and returns with his friend (also wearing a “Pumpkin Boy” helmet) to steal one of the lunar ray guns. They succeed, but a boxy moon tank chases them into a cave. Unable to enter, it melts the rock around the entrance with its heat gun. As molten rock gushes down the tunnel towards our heroes we are left to wonder, how will they ever escape?

Film Summary:

Petro wants some more of that delicious little girl.The Mad Monster is a mistitled film, since the doctor certainly seems madder than the actual monster. Consider one of the first scenes where Dr. Cameron turns his friendly, if somewhat dumb, gardener into a werewolf with a shot of dog blood. He then has a conversation with his enemies, whom he imagines into the room with him. He mocks them, and they mock him back and call him crazy. As Crow observes, if he was going to make-believe his enemies were there, “he could at least make them afraid of him."

In order to prove he’s not crazy, he turns his gardener/assistant loose at night to terrorize locals and eat small children. His enemies then do supremely stupid things and are killed. (e.g.: “Would you give my assistant this shot? I just have to step out a moment.” And subsequently, “Would you take my assistant into town, in your car, by yourself, on this dark and stormy night? Wait just a moment while I give him this shot.”) Being well informed about the nature of his previous experiments, they ought to have known better.

Eventually the doctor’s Judy Garland-esqe daughter and her reporter boyfriend stumble on the truth, at which point the whole movie gets struck by lightning and burns down.

Host Segment One:

The Mads consider how best to inflict further pain upon the Satellite dwellers.Joel demonstrates a purse that catches fire when you open it, or, “Hell in a handbag.” The Mads demonstrate a remote control Godzilla that actually breathes fire.

Host Segment Two:

Tom Servo chats up a blender, eventually trying to pick “her” up. Joel takes a swig; “Nobody drinks from my girl!” Tom cries. Joel convinces him that it’s just an inanimate object. Tom comes on to Mr. Coffee on the way out.

Host Segment Three:

The ‘Bots ask questions about Petro, the Wolfman.

Host Segment Four:

Joel switches Crow’s head with Servo’s head and calls them his Servo-Crow-ation. They get very irritated at first, but then their minds grow together. Soon they are speaking in unison and plotting to take over the universe. Joel turns them off.

Host Segment Five:

Joel offers RAM chips to the ‘Bots if they can tell a good thing and a bad thing about the movie.

Thoughts:

Petro, in happier times.The host segments are a little uneven in this episode. The “hell in a handbag” idea is cute; I guess it would protect you from getting robbed by ensuring that, at all times, you would be carrying absolutely nothing of value. The fire-breathing Godzilla is priceless. When I was eight or so, I had a little plastic Godzilla with a flint and steel in its mouth that would spit sparks and walk around when you wound it up. Imagine if I’d had a two-foot high remote control Godzilla that spit a three-foot jet of flame when you used it. I mean, thank goodness I didn’t, but if I did, the five to six minutes of use I got out of it before I set the house on fire would have been really cool. The blender speech and the Servo-Crow-ation segment are fun as well, as opposed to the other two host segments where they just sort of talked about nothing in particular.

The Commando Cody episode pulls kind of a cheap stunt in that it replays the last minute or so of the previous episode where Retik shoots at Cody with his ray gun, intercut with a new shot of Cody leaping to safety at the last moment while Retik harmlessly disintegrates a piece of lunar furniture. Servo remarks, “If they’d shown that before, I wouldn’t have worried.” Aside from that, this episode is simultaneously serious and goofy as only a 50’s serial can be. It’s action packed and a lot of fun.

The movie, on the other hand, is not action packed and not a lot of fun. In the brief summary paragraph I have described the entire plot, leaving out nothing, and yet the movie takes up more than an hour. The relaxed commentary typical of Joel and the ‘Bots in Season One works all right for movies that move well by themselves, but badly paced movies like this drag on endlessly in spite of them.