The idea behind the Don’t Watch It, John! series is to find cinema that’s so rotten, so foul, so incredibly fetid that no other human being would dare recommend it to another human being. So why on earth would I watch this stuff? I like to think of myself much like Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men. We live in a world that has horrible movies, and those horrible movies have to be kept from potential viewers. Who’s gonna do it? You? You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That someone watching Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, while tragic, probably saves lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall, protecting you from the cinematic horrors of the world.
The most recent entry into the Don’t Watch It! canon is a stinker from 1965–Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster.
What is Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster? The plot description on Netflix: After being shot down by Martians, a robotic NASA astronaut (Robert Reilly) roams the beaches of Puerto Rico while his attackers (Marilyn Hanold and Lou Cutell) round up bikini-clad women. If the aliens are successful, the busty females will be used to repopulate their withering planet — but not if scientists Adam Steele (James Karen) and Karen Grant (Nancy Marshall) have something to say about it.
Who stars in this cinematic monstrosity? Marilyn Hanold, who also starred in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and was “Amazon #8” in In Like Flint; noted character actor James Karen, whose credits include Wall Street, Poltergeist, and The Return of the Living Dead; and Lou Cutell, best known as The Ass Man in an episode of Seinfeld and Leo Funkhouser on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The Stats: IMDb viewers have rated it an average of 2.8 out of 10. Four critics on Rotten Tomatoes have reviewed it, with all four giving it a “rotten” review. However, 38% of audience members gave it a thumbs-up. That’s clearly a bad score, but it’s nearly four times as good as, say, the 10% that Season of the Witch has.
The Review: The plot description more or less says it all. NASA has created an astronaut out of human body parts and given him a robot brain. On his way to explore space, the corpsonaut is shot down by aliens who are lurking just outside of Earth. The corpsonaut–naturally, named Frank– survives, but is horribly disfigured. He lands in Puerto Rico and now looks a lot like Harvey “Two Face” Dent, with half of his face charred down to fleshy robot parts.
Later, we find out that the lurking aliens have recently won an atomic war with some other group of aliens but lost all of their women. They are going to invade Earth to steal Puerto Rican women in bikinis, then use them to repopulate their race. In the meantime, Frank’s handlers are worried about him because they don’t know where he’s landed and they fear that the crash may lead him to become a murderous monster. And of course, that’s precisely what happened to him.
Eventually, they find Frank, stop his murderous spree, and use his unique smashing skills to infiltrate the alien spacecraft parked on the San Juan beach. He has to stop them from “purifying” the half-naked Puerto Rican women and save one of his handlers–a female NASA employee. Unfortunately, to emerge victorious, he must first defeat “Mull”, a space monster that the aliens keep caged on their craft.
There’s a lot to say here about this movie. First and foremost, I have a confession. I LOVE this type of shit. Pardon me for using vulgar and familiar language to describe it, but that’s exactly what this was- shit. But it’s FUN shit. These type of movies are hilarious to watch because you can’t help but think about all of the various trappings that went into this kind of movie. Somewhere, in 1964, some poor writer in Hollywood sat in front of a typewriter and feverishly banged out this script. Somewhere, in 1964, a casting director had to choose an actor and actress to play the aliens Dr. Nadir and the Princess. People got paid for this job. A director saw the script and said “This looks great! This HAS to be put to celluloid and I’m just the man for the job!” It boggles my mind. But you also have to admire the enthusiasm that went into it, too (or any of these other kinds of movies). It takes a special person–the kind of person with abundant energy–to take a turd like this and polish it into something for the masses. Nobody sets out to make a bad movie and at some point, many people thought that this kind of movie would make money and entertain loads of movie-going audiences. It’s fascinating.
Having said all of that, there’s a studio employee somewhere along the line who’s a real asshole. The “space monster” shows up twice. “Frankenstein” is similar to Mary Shelley’s creation on only the most basic level. There’s no doctor. To claim that this movie features Frankenstein and a space monster took a lot of balls and they no doubt duped a lot of disappointed people into watching this on that basis alone.
In the end, it’s a bad movie. There can be no doubt about it. But it does just enough to instill a giddy smirk and a heap of schaudenfreude. It’s hard not to laugh as aliens target half naked Puerto Rican women for procreation, only to be thwarted by a reanimated corpse astronaut and NASA employees riding around on Vespa scooters, all wrapped up in a groovy 1960’s soundtrack and stock footage from the space program.