George Nader’s acting career began in 1950. For around three years he was largely limited to bit-parts on stage and screen. In 1953, however, he scored his first starring role as the lead in the 3D science fiction film Robot Monster. A now infamous movie, Robot Monster is hardly a classic but was successful at the box office and helped to significantly boost Nader’s profile.
The Cast & Characters
Nader’s character in Robot Monster was Roy, an assistant scientist working with ‘The Professor’, played by John Mylong. The remainder of the film’s human characters comprised The Professor’s wife (played by Selena Royale), his eldest daughter Alice (played by Claudia Barrett) and his two younger children.
Robot Monster’s main villains, meanwhile, were the evil moon robot Ro-Man and his alien leader Great Guidance. Both of those characters were played in body by George Barrows but voiced by John Brown.
Under instruction from Great Guidance, Ro-Man has killed almost the entire population of Earth with a death ray. Only eight humans remain, who have all developed an immunity to that weapon. Great Guidance despatches Ro-Man to kill all of the survivors by any means necessary.
A pair of astronauts attempting to reach an orbiting space platform are quickly killed, leaving only The Professor, his family and Ray. They try to reason with Ro-Man and in doing so discover that he and his master attacked humanity as a pre-emptive strike.
Ro-Man, meanwhile, falls in love with The Professor’s elder daughter Alice. Whilst he strangles her sister and throws Ray over a cliff, Ro-Man takes Alice prisoner and refuses to kill her. Furious, Great Guidance strikes down the disobedient Ro-Man with lightning and then unleashes dinosaurs and an earthquake to deal with the remaining humans.
Just as all seems lost, it’s revealed that all of the previous events were the contents of a fever dream of The Professor’s young son, Johnny. The sudden appearance of Ro-Man as the family head home, however, suggests that his dream was a foreshadowing of events to come.
Reception & Reputation
Robot Monster was made in a total of just four days for a budget of only $16,000. Filmed using what was then brand-new 3D technology, the film grossed an impressive $1,000,000 at the box office. That represented a huge profit and the film’s financial success arguably played a part in securing for Nader a contract with Universal Pictures.
The movie itself, however, has gone down in history as one of the worst ever made. The LA Times in 1953 described it as both ‘a crazy mixed up movie’ and ‘one of the top turkeys of the year’. It has since consistently appeared in books, journals and publications listing the worst films of all-time.