• Classic Horrors Club

Movie of the Week: Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster (1965)



At an hour and 19 minutes, Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster (1965) is about 19 minutes too long. It starts out great and I thought I was going to have a new bad movie to love. It runs out of steam, though, and at just past the one-hour mark, it squanders its chance to end on a high note.

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Lest you be misled, the movie has no Frankenstein character. Instead, Colonel “Frank” Saunders (Robert Reilly) is a robot with human consciousness transplanted into it. The military can control him, as well as eliminate human error and the loss of a single life when sending him on an expedition to Mars.

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“What if the machine breaks or something goes wrong with his brain?” asks Karen Grant (Nancy Marshall) during the scene of exposition that explains all this. Later, when aliens fire upon his rocket, he crashes, and something does indeed go wrong, she exclaims, “What you’re saying is he could turn into a Frankenstein!”

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Therefore, the movie’s not technically cheating with its title. In fact, if you look closely at the poster, it accurately depicts both Frank and the monster that the aliens keep in a cage on their spaceship. Don’t look too closely, though, because I’d challenge its claims:

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SEE love-starved creatures from another galaxy! Hmmm… not really. They’re survivors from a recent nuclear war on their planet; we don’t know if it’s in this galaxy or not. This war destroyed all women except for Princess Marcuzan (Mairlyn Hanold) and she’s come to collect “breeding stock.”

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SEE the invasion of the wild beach party! Hmmm… maybe? I mean, there is a beach party and if you call it “wild” because a middle-aged woman sets her cup on her head while she’s dancing, then I guess you’ll be satisfied. An alien disintegrates a man on the diving board with his ray gun, then he and his friends round up the girls.

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SEE a man turned into a screaming monster! Hmmm… definitely not. If this refers to Frank, he doesn’t scream after his crash, but there are “computer” sound effects/music whenever he’s around. Also, the spacemonster (one word) is already a monster. He doesn’t scream as much as growl.

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The really star of Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster is neither of the titular characters; it’s Princess Marcuzan’s right-hand alien, Dr. Nadir (Lou Cutell.) Imagine Uncle Fester with Jeff Goldblum’s eyes and Jon Lovitz’s voice while he practically twirls his figurative moustache and cries with glee, “Rockets ignite! Full power!”

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You want stock footage? This movie has stock footage! It’s actually integrated quite well and assembled in a way to create interest in the story instead of to distract from it. I have to say, though, that the skies in Puerto Rico must be dangerously full, what with all the Army planes and helicopters dispatched to the area.

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The makeup, although flimsy at the seams, is also quite good. With half his face missing, Frank’s robotic profile seems… uh, realistic. The alien is interesting, a three-fingered beast with horny skeletal head on top of a hairy gorilla-like body. It’s even effectively shot with zooms, close-ups and tilted camera angles.

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Alas, the anticipated battle between Frank and the spacemonster comes late, is too brief, and is obscured by all the smoke from the “rocket barrage” of the military as the ship attempts to launch. Dr. Adam Steele (James Karen in his debut role) and Karen Grant, who had been abducted, are reunited for a happy ending…


… an unusual-for-the-time closing credits sequence in which two people we never knew were in love, ride a scooter through San Juan while a cheesy love song plays (for the second time.) There are moments when its style feels unique and the production values rate a B-plus, so I guess to be a better movie, it really needed to be worse.

Written by George Garrett (story)

Directed by Robert Gaffney

Starring Marilyn Hanold, James Karen, Lou Cutell, Nancy Marshall, David Kerman, Robert Reilly Released Sept. 22, 1965 RT 79 min.

Home Video Dark Sky Films (DVD)




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