As you may well have gathered by reading this blog if you don't know me (or just know if you do know me) : I love bad movies. Really bad movies are often so much more rewarding and fun than a good film for many reasons. One of them that has just occurred to me in that when I enjoy something. I mean really enjoy it I just want to savour it. Enjoy it. I don't really want to start picking it to bits to find out how it worked and why I liked it so much - and to tell you the truth, if something IS good I get lost in it and my critical faculties get forgotten about till it is over.
And I like taking things to bits and seeing how they work.
This film, like most others, has three acts. In the first act a scientist and his assistant are killed by a mysterious unseen hand, they are frozen to death. Frozen so cold in fact that their bodies shatter when they fall over which, because of budgetary constraints, they do off-screen. An undercover security officer arrives to investigate. This part isn't too badly done, a little slow maybe, but not bad for a low budget movie of the period.
For act two the security officer and his undercover girlfriend security agent take us on a guided tour of the base meeting a mixed bag of identical scientist types who lecture at great length their experiments, show us short clips of stock footage by way of illustration and then explain and why they could not have been the mysterious killer and, to tell you the truth the film almost grinds to a halt with tedium. This procession of (not too outlandish) ideas may have been pure "Gosh-wow! The future is going to be so Cooool!" at the time it was made but it all looks dated and plodding now.
Act Three. Action! - slowly segueing into hilarious ineptitude. (Paydirt!) More people get bumped off!
The chemist who was analysing some mysterious 'atomic powder' found in a suspect device is poisoned by a pot plant so radioactive that simply putting a glass dome over it cuts most of the clicking of the hero's Geiger counter.
The acrobats in their anti-gravity vests made of a 'new alloy of aluminium' are spun to death in their space-suits.
The head of base security is somethinged to death by sound waves, "Get out! Sound waves at this intensity can kill!" Actually I'm not really sure WHAT happens to him, his shirt sort of explodes while he is trying to cut the cables to a set of electric tuning forks and then he falls over.(Just why he is trying to cut the cables to a set of electric tuning forks is not really clear either, but as he was such a terrible actor I was actively willing him to die by this point, so I wouldn't have to look at him any more, and didn't care about the details).
Our hero has an idea what is going on and gets the head scientist, played by venerable ageing actor Herbert Marshall, to phone the Air Force and get them to scramble a squadron of jets, which by the mysterious power of limited stock footage, transmogrify from one type of aircraft to another in mid air (then into small models of possibly another kind of aircraft altogether). Gosh! This is all so exciting!
One of the Scientist's robots goes on the rampage in the computer room. Our hero shoots the robot with his pistol but it is invulnerable to bullets.
"Can you use a flame thrower?" asks its creator in an impenetrably thick German accent while keeping the rampaging metal monster at bay with a short stick.
"Yes!" cries our hero.
"Melt him down! It'z the only vay to stop him!" Then, in the heat of the moment, the scientist's accent goes into hyper-drive and I have absolutely NO idea what he says next. I have played that section of the movie over and over again and it still sounds like:
"Time bext zoim - in demzoim down ze hall - hurry up!"
Anyway, whatever he does say our hero understands and he rushes off - that or he'd figured the odds had just turned against him. 'Killer robot AND insane babbling German scientist? Stuff it, I'm off!'.
But no! He returns with the flame thrower. Unfortunately while he is out the room the mad German scientist has tripped over a claw hammer lying in the middle off the computer room floor and been strungled* to death by the robot.
Suddenly the alarm sounds! "The reactor!" The other killer berserk robot is in the reactor room removing the control rod.
That's right. THE control rod. This atomic pile has a control room with a little, lidded wooden box mounted on the wall. Open the lid and you can pull out THE control rod which starts a carbon arc...
...and throws the 'Nuclear Indicator' dangerously into the dark beige.
They're doomed! Unless...
Our heroes arrive, set fire to the robot with the flame thrower, and replace the rod. Whew! Saved! But! What's this? Coming through the door is killer robot number ONE who has busted out of the other lab after strungulating Dr Stranglelove and followed them down in the lift! - and the heroes' flame thrower is out of gas!
But, just when things look really bad... (for the heroes I mean, the movie has been looking really bad for ages) ...in through the doors bursts aged, venerable, head scientist, Herbert Marshall waving ANOTHER flame thrower (every nuclear power plant should have at least one). Unfortunately his flame thrower doesn't work so well. Just when... etc. The stock footage of USAF planes we saw taking off earlier shoot down a mysterious fibre-glass aircraft which has been flying about overhead eavesdropping on the supercomputer and hijacking it to commit the murders.
The End (apart from a brief love scene between radioactive hero and heroine "I feel radiant!" and an optimistic speech from Marshall how about how everything is going to be all right because America will get it's Killer Mirror Death-Ray device into orbit tomorrow morning, "When the sky is clean." Which they do by using that other bit of stock footage of a V2 rocket taking off. Movies that finale with stock footage. The mark of quality )
Scored high on the crapomoter and, because of it, may well not get deleted in the great Let's get the computer cleaned up and backed up blitz.
*Strungled v. To simulate the act of strangulation by clutching the stranglator to your own throat, while pretending to struggle to be free. An act commonly seen performed in any cheap movie containing a giant octopus.