12/6/06

110 Robot Holocaust

(1986, SciFi-Postapocalyptic, color), with:

Commando Cody in Radar Men from the Moon: Chapter Nine, Battle in the Stratosphere
(1952, SciFi Serial-Children, b&w)

Yoo an yoah daatah ah dooommmd!

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

Short: Cody steals some Lunarium and gets away.
Film: A telepathic outsider rescues postapocalyptic factory workers from evil robots.

Short Summary:

In our last exciting episode, we saw Ted escape in the flying suit while Cody's tank exploded. Commando Cody in Radar Men from the Moon: Chapter Nine, Battle in the Stratosphere begins at this point, once again with a trick of deceptive editing. Instead of the usual “he escaped while we weren’t looking” bit, however, this time we discover that Cody’s tank did not blow up after all; it was actually the identical enemy tank the Moon Men were driving. You see, Ted flew over and dropped a grenade on them as they were aiming. After a bit of gunplay, Cody fixes their stolen tank and they escape back to the spaceship with the box of Lunarium that Cody stole in the previous episode. After a brief exchange with the Moon Man prisoner (see the previous episode) that ends with the Moon Man pouting and stomping off to his room like a sullen teenager, they take off and then…the film breaks, to be replaced with a picture of Dr. Forrester and Dr. Erhardt. How will it all end? Who cares?

Film Summary:

Yoo an yoah daatah ah dooommmd!In a bleak and distant future, Robots have risen up against their creators and enslaved them, forcing humans to provide them with energy. Mankind’s only hope is a gifted young man called Neo, destined to defeat the mechanical menace…

Sadly, this is where any similarity to the story of The Matrix ends. In one of the most amazingly non-sequitur plots I’ve ever seen, Neo arrives in a building in the city of New Terra, where scantily clad dancers, or air slaves, wrestle for the privilege of going to the Power Station to get killed. The omnipresent Dark One turns the air poisonous when the crowd gets unruly; Neo notices that two people are unaffected by the noxious air. (Now, all of these people have names, but I could never figure out what name went to who, so I’ll just use my own names for them.) Science Dad and his daughter, Science Girl are fitted with devices that make them impervious to the poisonous air. Neo is unaffected as well, for some unexplained reason, and he’s telepathic, though I think he can only communicate telepathically with robots. Fortunately, the Dark One is rather unobservant. He only notices Science Dad.

Science Dad gets arrested by the Dark One’s robot henchman Torque (who looks like a humanoid elephant seal with an exoskeleton). In the aftermath, Neo, Science Girl, and a clumsy robotic pickpocket who I will call Robot Sidekick band together to rescue him. A pair of leather-clad brothers from the slave building joins them. During a jaunt through central park (in a clearly present day and fully functional New York City) the group runs into a band of post-apocalyptic Amazons led by a warrior woman I’ll call Man-hater. They’ve tied a man to a tree, cut out his tongue, slept with him to breed a new generation of women warriors, and now they’re about to execute him. The heroes free the Tongueless Stud, and one of the Leather Brothers defeats Man-hater in single combat. Neo forces him to spare her life so that she can guide them to the Power Station.

So Neo, Science girl, Robot Sidekick, the Leather Brothers, Man-hater, and Tongueless Stud all set out to free Science Dad from the Dark One in the Power Station.

In the meantime, the Dark One (actually a steam spouting light fixture in a rusty industrial basement) has his other henchman (the lovely and incomprehensible Valeria) torture Science Dad to learn the secret of his poison air immunity. Also in the meantime, the air slaves decide to rebel by only pretending to bring the Dark One fuel for his power reactors, hoping that the hopelessly unobservant bad guys won’t notice. Also, also in the meantime, Neo and his intrepid band have to go through a tunnel infested with slime-coated, flesh-eating Muppets. Hacking along with Renaissance Festival swords, they win their way through, though Leather Brother One is wounded in the process. At an oasis on the other side they are attacked by a band of rejected Star Trek aliens. The mutants finish off Leather Brother One, but are driven back by the less-than-special effects of Robot Sidekick. They all descend into the Hall of Beasts, where the Beast of the Web (a fuzzy mechanical arm) is quickly and easily dispatched. Leather Brother Two sneaks away and quickly falls to another killer Muppet. Robot Sidekick gets them through a poorly locked gate and voila! They’re in the Power Station, dealing with booby traps. Also, also, also, in the meantime, the Dark One gets increasingly annoyed with Valeria for allowing them to get this far and she sets out to head them off herself. There’s a fight where Neo takes on Torque while Guardbots take on the rest of the crew with swords and morningstars. In the confusion, Valeria kidnaps Science Girl and takes her back to the Dark One. He’s pleased but burns Valeria’s face off anyway, revealing her to be a robot as well. In one of the longest, most confusing fight scenes ever, Valeria starts the self-destruct process and then quickly apologizes, poisoning the air slaves instead. Tongueless Stud and Man-hater nobly die, inexplicably halting the self-destruct process. Neo kills Torque somehow and then shoots the Dark One, just as he is revealing to Science Girl how he turned her dad into a giant avocado. Also, also, also, also in the meantime, Robot Sidekick saves the air slaves, who rejoice.

Introduction:

No animals were hurt in the making of this host segment.Joel sings the blues.

Host Segment One:

Joel has invented a pipe made from a toy monster truck that spouts flames. The Mads demonstrate a ski mask
specifically designed for bank robbers. It has remote control eyebrows.

Host Segment Two:

The ‘Bots form a fur-clad post-apocalyptic tribe and force Joel to do tricks before crossing their territory.

Host Segment Three:

Joel and the ‘Bots engage in weird sitcom-esque banter while Cambot punctuates every joke with an obnoxious laugh track. It quickly gets out of hand.

Host Segment Four:

Joel and the ‘Bots form another fur-clad post-apocalyptic tribe. Tom narrates until Joel and Crow start grilling him about the origin of their furry garments.

Host Segment Five:

Joel and the ‘Bots read letters and invite the viewers to “Name that avocado guy!”

Thoughts:

Very nice.  Very impressive.  What's it for again?The host segments in this one are decent, but nothing special. The Mad’s invention was pretty cool with the ski mask that allows you to emote while knocking over banks, but by now I’ve gotten tired of the whole “spurting flames” routine. The flame spurting Godzilla was cool, but with the addition of a flame spurting flower, whoopie-cushion, and now pipe, the inventions start to lose that "new idea" smell.

With this episode the MST3K run of Commando Cody is finished, and I’m not really sorry to see it go. It was fun in the beginning, but watching the plot endlessly circle the drain episode after episode was getting old. If you want to know how it ends, I suppose you could track down the rest of the episodes in their original state, but I’d hazard a guess that, at the end of the last episode, Cody defeats Moon Men and everyone lives happily ever after.

The movie’s cast seems to have consisted entirely of professional dancers. They dress sparsely in leather and fur, are lithe, lean, muscular and graceful, as well as inarticulate, inexpressive, and unable to act their way out of a wet paper bag. I liked it anyway. I like this genre as a whole, actually. You want to dress in fake fur and wander through modern day Central Park with Ren-Fest swords? Sure, go ahead. You want vicious, bucktoothed sock puppets to stick out of the walls drenched in slime? Why not? You want to be threatened by a sixty-watt bulb and his gorgeous mechanical sidekick? Be my guest. It’s like they filmed someone’s lame childhood fantasy; you can almost hear them humming the theme music during the chases and making the sound effects with their lips while they fight. The SciFi/Fantasy journey film is, in my opinion, the best fodder for the kind of treatment that Joel and the ‘Bots give a film. This one includes the “six flags over Armageddon” quip and observations about Neo’s “telepathetic” powers, as well as numerous human vegetable jokes at the end. Okay, I’m biased, but this is my favorite kind of MST3K episode.