Mystery Science Theater 3000: THE ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY, with RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON, part 1
May 21, 2014 11:27 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy - (1958, B&W, Mexican, Sci-Fi, Horror) It turns out this is actually the third Aztec Mummy movie. All are originally from Mexico. Mad scientist Dr. Krupp builds a robot to defeat a tomb's mummy guardian so he can steal its treasure. Also: Radar Men From The Moon, Part 1: AKA Commando Cody. A classic serial in which moon people come to Earth and team up with organized crime to sabotage Earth civilization. The MST treatment of the Cody shorts overall are pretty good, but the movie is a struggle. Again, this is a first season episode, not for new guests of the Satellite Of Love.

The Robot vs. Aztec Mummy:
Originally, "La momia azteca contra el robot humano."
IMDB [2.0 stars]
Directed by Rafael Portillo
Written by Guillermo Calderón and Alfredo Salazar.
Starring Ramón Gay, Rosa Arenas, Crox Alvarado, and Luis Aceves Castañeda as Dr. Krupp.

Radar Men From The Moon:
IMDB [4.5 stars]
Directed by Fred C. Brannon.
Written by Ronald Davidson.
Starring George Wallace as Cody, Aline Towne and Roy Barcroft as Retik.
posted by JHarris (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Host segments:
Pre: Airbag Helmet, Chalk Man, Deep 13 Security System
1: Demon Dogs surround the Satellite of Love and put it in danger. Tom Servo's attempts to shoo them away don't go well for him
2: The guys meet Enoch, "king and charismatic leader of the dog people. Arf arf!" Voiced by Jim Mallon in one of his few non-Gypsy roles. Speaking of whom, Gypsy eats Enoch before he can save the ship.
3: Crow dresses as Enoch to try to convince the dogs to leave. It goes for him as well as it went for Servo.
End: Joel ejects a ball "in fetch mode" out of a service port and lures the demon dogs away.

Movie short serials were a staple of Mystery Science Theater's early seasons. They did a total of three, but Commando Cody and the Radar Men From The Moon is the one that lasted the longest. I love the serials personally and wish the show could have done more of them. Note at the start, behind the silhouettes below the title, you can just make out the edited-in words RE-RELEASE. I don't know why that's there. Anyway, shorts are another part of the vanished American movie-going experience. It'd be fun to go to a complete theater show like the old days, but now you're lucky if you get a vanity project cartoon between the inescapable twenty minutes of trailers and your Feature Presentation.

Some interesting facts about Commando Cody:
- The reason the short leads off with the business about Cody being "a new character," is because Republic Pictures had used the same suit in a previous serial, King of the Rocket Men! Here's an interesting page about the rocket serials.
- Similarly, the costume of evil moon tyrant Retik was also used in prior serials, notably one with the rather whimsical title The Purple Monster Strikes. Considerable footage from that was reused in Radar Men From The Moon.
- There is one other Commando Cody serial, with mostly different actors playing the characters, Commando Cody: Sky Marshall of the Universe. It was made for television but also got a theatrical release. The serial had a female sidekick for its evil mastermind The Ruler played by Gloria Pall. Pall died in 2012, but her website's still up, linked more out of a sense of melancholy than anything else.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 showed eight full episodes of Radar Men, and most of a ninth. Three episodes of the serial remain that went unaired.
- Apparently, Universal Studios had a "copyright" on the word "rocketship," from having licensed Flash Gordon for serialization, supposedly limiting Republic's use of the term. How accurate this is I do not know; it doesn't exactly jibe with what I know about copyright law, but we are talking about the 1940s and 50s here.

Some representative lines:
Crook in gunfight shooting from behind a truck, upon running out of ammo: "Let's get out of here!"
Other crook: "What else can we do?" (runs away)
Joel: "Well, you could take the truck...."
Crow: "Naaah!"
Servo: "It's much better to run into the desert on foot with no provisions or anything."

Korg: "From the description that you have given me, it must have been Commando Cody in his flying suit."
Joel: "Or Trash-Can Head."

Guy: "I still think this is no trip for a woman."
Woman: "Now don't start that again. You'll be very glad to have someone along who can cook your meals!"
Other Guy: "I'll say we will!"
Servo (as Woman, but not in falsetto): "Yeah, and pretty soon I'll be able to vote!"

Crow: "It sure is sunny in space."

(As Commando Cody meets Retik and his henchmen)
Joel: "I am Orlcon! This is my brother Zenon and my other brother Zenon."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

It's a first season episode so expect reduced joke density.

This is the third movie of a series, and it leads off with a lengthy recap of the first two films. The recap is like half the movie, there's no mention of the robot in any of it. The robot finally shows up with less than twenty minutes to go! The title fight happens at minute 92 out of 100 of the whole episode. All that padding makes the movie difficult to get through.

From the Satellite News' episode guide:
"There are also two spots where the Brains experimented by playing with the sound. In one spot, as the men stand in a row with their backs to the camera in a way that suggested that they were relieving themselves, they added the sound of liquid streaming. And in the aforementioned musical ceremony, when Joel covers the lady’s mouth the sound cuts back as if he is muffling her. They never seldom did it again." (The other time was in the last season one episode, The Black Scorpion.)

Joel has a thing about miniature gold courses throughout the episode, which I had never noticed before because the movie has a way of paralyzing the brain.

There's a great bit midway through Robot v Aztec where our hero's sidekick is wandering through a graveyard, gesticulating bizarrely, and Joel, and later the bots too, do Jerry Lewis impressions. The hero then wanders through and Crow goes into Dean Martin.
posted by JHarris at 12:11 AM on May 22, 2014

The next group showing is a bit tricky for me, and might have to wait until next week. If it gets pushed back long enough we might make it a double feature -- although neither episode is commonly regarded as being that great.
posted by JHarris at 12:18 AM on May 22, 2014

It's a lot of work for you, so I'll try to go with whatever works.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:41 AM on May 22, 2014

I'll be honest, like most of the first season, I have no memory of this movie at all.

But, Commander Cody! From an objective standpoint, that might be the most fun set of shorts they ever did, even without the riffing. Super excited to go through all of those again.

As far as a group watch goes, I will probably be around to run a room at about 8-9EST tomorrow night, but do we want to try to find a better time for all of us going forward? Seems like Friday night might not be the best time for everyone who might want to watch.
posted by hobgadling at 6:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

There really is no good time. There really is no good time. There really is no good time.

All we can hope for is the least bad time, and in the past it's been shown that the effort of trying to find such a time can be much greater than that of watching the thing itself.

Maybe multiple viewings? Last week I actually went through the film three times, and threw in some additional MST novelties found on YouTube in the process. If you can make it through Robot vs. Aztec Mummy, you'll get something nice at the end, like Mr. B Natural or Why Study Woodworking.
posted by JHarris at 9:17 PM on May 22, 2014

That said, when I get off tomorrow I'll run straight home and start up the room. Expect maybe starting 9 PM ET, thereabouts.
posted by JHarris at 9:18 PM on May 22, 2014

Actually... I'm going to start it before going to work and have it running while I'm gone. It's not unknown for sync-video rooms to close unexpectedly, but hopefully it'll stay up long enough for people unable to get there tomorrow evening to watch some badness.

When I create the room, I'll post a URL here. I might leave it as private (must have a URL to watch) this time to reduce the chances of jerks joining, although last time we had a couple of good drop-bys as well.
posted by JHarris at 2:45 AM on May 23, 2014

The room is up:

As I said before, I'm not going to be actually in this one until probably around 9 PM (exact timing uncertain). I'll reset the stream then and we'll have a watch from the beginning.
posted by JHarris at 1:07 PM on May 23, 2014

Had to recreate the room -- Firefox was lagging out and causing stutters. New address is:

Note, if something happens that closes the window before I get back, the room will drop out of existence when it goes to zero viewers. sync-video isn't a perfect solution, but it's reasonably low-bandwidth, relatively free of copyright issues since it just displays pre-existing YouTube videos, and is simple to set up and use.

Again, 9 PM is the main event, but it'll be running up until then if you can & want to drop by for a little, assuming no accidents.
posted by JHarris at 1:24 PM on May 23, 2014

Argh, I didn't get out of work at Dominos until 10, THANKS ASSISTANT MANAGER UGH. It's going now.
posted by JHarris at 7:08 PM on May 23, 2014

Thanks for dropping by everyone! We got up to six viewers tonight that I saw. Next week is 103 MAD MONSTER, a movie that frankly I remember very little about. After that it's 104 WOMEN OF THE PREHISTORIC PLANET, which at least promises to be adequately cheesy and also, despite its early production number, was actually the last episode filmed of the first season so it might be a bit better in the riffing department. And then 105 THE CORPSE VANISHES, with Bela Lugosi!

Slowly, bit by bit, we're getting to 107 ROBOT MONSTER. Please bear with us.
posted by JHarris at 11:24 PM on May 23, 2014

Is Robot Monster really good?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:20 AM on May 24, 2014

The riffing on Robot Monster is above average for the first season, I think, but the movie itself is adorably goofy. Absolutely nothing in it makes any kind of sense, it reaches heights of absurdity. It's legendary in bad movie circles. I have heard that Stephen King wrote in Danse Macabre of a night he got high and nearly did himself an injury laughing his head off watching Robot Monster.
posted by JHarris at 7:47 AM on May 24, 2014

I've always wanted to rent the two Halloween costumes necessary to go as the Robot Monster.
posted by stevis23 at 3:11 PM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here is the movie's entry in The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film:

This bizarre sequel to The Aztec Mummy features Dr. Krupp, a mad scientist after the treasure buried in the mummy's tomb. He creates a tin-can robot with a human head (and light bulbs for ears) that battles the zombie-like mummy attired in shredded cloth. Lots of American kids sat through this at '60s Saturday matinees. The Mexican momia was soon back in Curse of the Aztec Mummy.
posted by JHarris at 9:10 PM on May 25, 2014

aww, would love to hang out for one of these, but my schedule won't allow it. Have fun everyone!
posted by jonbro at 1:37 AM on May 29, 2014

« Older Louie: Elevator part 3...   |  The Americans: Echo... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments