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The 13 Lamest Robots in Movie History

January 13th 2009 13:35

The Phantom Empire (1935)
Robots have been appearing in cinema almost since the birth of cinema itself. You can go right back to 1926 when what is widely regarded as the first, and for some time, the most well-known robot appeared on the big screen via Fritz Lang's sci-fi classic Metropolis.

Even if you haven't seen the legendary silent-era film, you would no doubt have seen 'Maria'. With her feminine features, she has become such an iconic figure - a figure ahead of her time. Maybe over 50 years ahead of her time.

Her design is reminiscent of what is arguably the most popular robot in recent times, the pompous-but-in-a-funny-way C-3P0, who, along with sidekick R2-D2, were the only two characters to appear in six of the Star Wars films.

Since Metropolis, we've seen a number of other memorable robots, including Gort, from The Day The Earth Stood Still, who stood out like a beacon during a time of such ridiculous alien invasion stories in the 1950s, featuring equally ridiculous robots. Alot of them you will find in the list below.

Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet
There also been plenty of lovable robot rogues like last year's WALL-E from the movie of the same name, and Robby the Robot, from Forbidden Planet (1966), and who may make a comeback soon in a remake of that picture.

But, right now we are looking at the worst robots to have appeared on the big screen. More often than not, those that have been created by alien 'intelligence' - for our enjoyment.

To clarify, these are robots in the traditional walking tin can sense (like those mentioned above - but much much worse) and not androids, which have a much more human appearance such as The Cowboy from Westworld and The Terminator. As usual the lines that seperate the categories are sometimes sketchy ... but you get that. Enjoy, or not.

King Kong Escapes

13. Mecha-Kong


Director: Ishiro Honda.
Starring: Akira Takarada, Rhodes Reason, Mie Hama, Linda Miller and Eisei Amamoto.

'The mightiest of all creatures pitted against his exact duplicate!'

The big ape finally meets his match in this Japanese production (originally called Kingu Kongu no gyakushű) which centres around the creation of a comical 'King-sized' robotic Kong.

Mecha-Kong in King Kong Escapes
The metal monster is made by the evil genius Dr Who (no, not the British television Time Lord of the same name) who wants to use it to dig for some special made-up radioactive element deep in the North Pole, which, of course, is ridiculous in itself given that the whole area is basically just ice. Regardless, the Mecha-Kong winds up being completely useless at his job anyway.

So, Who calls in the real Kong - who is captured and hypnotized - to do his dirty work. Of course, he ends up escaping (hence the title), which leads to the real point of the movie - a titanic battle between ape and machine. The pair go bananas through the streets of Tokyo in typical Japanese miniture style, with Haruo Nakajima in the Kong suit and Hiroshi Sekita in the Mecha-Kong outfit.

As usual, Kong also gets the hots for some poor chick, but being in Tokyo he doesn't get to climb up the Empire State Building.

WATCH in awe >>>

Robot Kong Emerges... - The funniest videos clips are here

Lost in Space

12. Robot

From LOST IN SPACE (1998)

Director: Stephen Hopkins
Starring: William Hurt, Gary Oldman, Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham and Matt Le Blanc.

'Get Ready Get Set Get Lost'

Okay, so it wasn't really the robot's fault - it certainly had some cool weaponry - it was more the fact that the thing was controlled by that annoying little brat Will Robinson (played here by Jack Johnson, now guitarist for band Retreat from Paradise), and kept company with the likes of Matt LeBlanc (now washed-up actor).

The then Friends star must've thought he was on the verge of sci-fi superstardom when he was cast as the heroic Major Don West in this big budget at-times flashy remake of the popular TV series. But, a plan to make two sequels were scrapped after this one fell into the black hole of box-office bombs.

The role of Robot, as it is simply known, in this film is pretty standard with the original television series from the 1960s - he does a few odd jobs on board the spacecraft Jupiter 2 and also acts as a kind of bodyguard to the Robinson family, which, in the 2050s, is on a mission to the habitable planet Alpha Prime in deep space to prep it for colonisation after Earth becomes a sess-pool of pollution.

Along the way Robot suffers the indignity of, firstly, having his original body ripped apart by 'space spiders', and then, after his mind is downloaded and then placed into a new form, the missing gaps of his programming is filled with the mental patterns of the 12-year-old boy Robinson. He makes a full recovery, but is constantly locking himself in his bedroom with a can of oil and latest edition of Robots Gone Wild.

WATCH in awe >>>

Lost in Space Movie - The Cool Parts 1 - For more of the funniest videos, click here

Saturn 3

11. Hector

From SATURN 3 (1980)

Director: Stanley Donen.
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett and Harvey Keitel.

'Some thing is wrong on Saturn 3'

This would not be one of screen legend Kirk Douglas' proudest moments as he finds himself trying to outwit a homicidal robot in deep space who's a cross between HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the alien from Alien, and Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction.

In fact, among the 39 award nominations (including three Oscar wins) Douglas has had sits a nomination for Worst Actor at the 1981 Golden Raspberries for his portrayal here as Adam, who's supposed to be this futuristic scientist, but comes across more like Hugh Hefner, parading around in a dressing gown, with a young Farrah Fawcett on his arm, the only other crew member aboard their space station Saturn 3.

Kirk Douglas and Hector in Saturn 3
Their Playboy Mansion-type existence is upset when Benson (Keitel) and his strapping eight-foot tall sidekick Hector arrive unexpectedly. Both man and machine take an instant liking to Alex, the psychopathic Benson using come-on lines like "... you have a great body. May I use it?"

Both even turn on each other in the battle for her affections, with Benson jumping in when Alex is about to grab Hector's 'storage tube'. All that built-up sexual frustration got the better of them both.

WATCH in awe >>>

Saturn 3 - Rapist Robot - Watch a funny movie here

Phantom Empire

10. The Muranian Robots


Directors: Otto Brower and B. Reeves Eason
Starring: Gene Autry, Frankie Darro, Betsy King Ross and Dorothy Christy.

'A nation 20,000 feet underground'

Pretty spectacular for its day was this serial starring the legendary singing cowboy Autry. Playing himself, he and his posse, including Darro, come across an ancient civillisation smack bang under their 'dude ranch'.

Gene Autry in The Phantom Empire
The Muranians have lived 25,000 feet below the surface for the past 100,000 years, creating a technologically-advanced city, which includes shoddy-looking worker bee-type robots with little steel hats and little steel noses. They don't mind swinging an axe - or attempting to burn the face off of our hero Autry. These machines certainly weren't originally built to harm though.

They robots used were constructed for an earlier movie called Dancing Lady (1933) in which they were part of a dance sequence. They grabbed the limelight further when the 12-part Phantom Empire serial was released as a full-length feature film in 1940 called The Men With Steel Faces.

WATCH in awe >>>

THE PHANTOM EMPIRE 1935 - Awesome video clips here


9. Kronos

From KRONOS (1957)

Director: Kurt Neumann.
Starring: Jeff Morrow, Barbara Lawrence, John Emery and George O'Hanlon.

'The Most Incredible Monster of All Time!'

Poor old Kronos doesn't quite live up to his other titles, 'Destroyer of the Universe' and 'Ravager of Planets' as he can't even do away with this simple little blue ball called Earth. He is sent to here by an alien race to basically suck dry our energy supplies for their own greedy use.

And the massive 100-foot robot which seems to have a head like an old television, does in deed suck - at his job. Somehow it ends up sucking the life from his own body and explodes. Some of the humans aren't too bright either though. When two of the main characters see an obvious spacecraft moving in a zig-zag pattern across the sky, they repeatedly refer to it as an "asteroid."

It's interesting to note that, according to, it was in fact Spyros Skouros, then president of 20th Century Fox, who liked the concept of Kronos and reportedly urged the production of this film.

WATCH in awe >>>

Kronos - A funny movie is a click away

Voyage to Prehistoric Planet

8. John the Robot


Director: Pavel Klushantsev and Curtis Harrington.
Starring: Basil Rathbone, Faith Domergue, Marc Shannon and Gennadi Vernov.

Again, not so much the actual robot's fault, but more the slapped together production. The film is predominantly the Russian sci-fi adventure Planeta Bur (Planet of Storms) that was made three years earlier.

John the Robot
This American release used footage from that movie, redubbed with English speaking voices and added extra scenes featuring American actors, including Rathbone. In fact, most of the credits on the US version are phony in order to hide the fact that the film was made in Russia. Remember, this was during the early days of the Cold War and at the height of the Space Race.

The story centres around the first manned-mission to Venus. Along with two cosmonauts, 'Robot John' (who is Russian) sets down on the planet where they come into contact with all sort of weird creatures. It is also where the machine meets its demise. At first he tries to help his comrades across a lava river, but, when his 'self-preservation' system kicks in, looks to dump them. Now, who was the idiot who programmed this thing to let humans die for its own cause?

WATCH in awe >>>

Death of Robot John - Click here for another funny movie.

The Mysterious Doctor Satan

7. Dr Satan's Robot


Directors: William Witney and John English.
Starring: Edward Ciannelli, Robert Wilcox, William Newell and C. Montague Shaw.

'Dr Satan tries to conquer the world with death-dealing robot!'

One of the earliest appearances of a robot in film. And, appropriately, the stunt man playing the steel-plated machine was named Tom Steele, a guy who made a career out of portraying henchmen of different varieties.

Here, he's the literal 'heavy' of mad scientist Dr Satan, who is trying to live up to his outrageously evil name, by wanting to create an army of these walking public letterboxes - and presumably take over the world via the postal service. But, copper proves to be steel's undoing - The Copperhead that is, the superhero standing in for the one and only 'Man of Steel'.

According to wikipedia, the story was originally written to be a Superman serial, but DC Comics ended up refusing so the writers were forced to make up their own new star. He didn't really catch on though. Kids were more inclined to wear their undies on the outside of their pants than get around wearing copper over their head.

WATCH in awe >>>

MYSTERIOUS DOCTOR SATAN 1940 SERIAL TRAILER - Funny video clips are a click away

Robot Monster

6. Ro-Man


Director: Phil Tucker
Starring: George Nader, Claudia Barrett, Selena Royle and John Mylong.

'Moon monsters launch attack against Earth!'

You may remember the Robot Monster, or Ro-Man, in an earlier Movie Catcher list 10 Lamest Alien Invasions in Movie History. And he might feature in a countdown of the Worst Gorilla Suits in Movie History. He quite simply has been a laughing stock of cinema for the past 56 years, ridiculed and referenced in an assortment of films and TV shows. Even the Muppets once poked fun at him.

Robot Monster
The creature has been sent to Earth from some far off planet by 'The Great One' to eradicate us all. He manages to kill off every human except eight - "Hu-mans, listen to me. Due to an error in calculation, there are still a few of you left", he says. There's one he even falls in love with - a young woman named Alice.

Apparently the budget didn't allow for a robot costume as intended so director Tucker used his friend George Barrows, who had his own gorilla suit, to play Ro-Man. Tucker added the ridiculous space helmet. It was the start of a great career for Barrows playing simians, as he was still donning the suit a decade later in TV series such as The Beverley Hillbillies and The Man from U.N.K.L.E.

WATCH in awe >>>

Robot Monster (1953) Trailer - For more amazing video clips, click here

Logans Run

5. Box

From LOGAN'S RUN (1976)

Director: Michael Anderson.
Starring: Michael York, Richard Jordan, Jenny Agutter, Peter Ustinov and Farrah Fawcett.

'A perfect world of total pleasure, with just one catch...'

Half of the robots featured on this list could've been called 'Box' or 'Cardboard Box'. As it is, that title goes to the crazy rolling robot who tries to bring 'Logan's run' to an abrupt halt in his ice cavern in this tale set in the Year 2274 about a seemingly idyllic, pleasure-seeking society that 'renews' (but really blows up) its citizens at the age of 30.

Box from Logan's Run
Box (played by Roscoe Lee Browne, the narrator from Babe), used to work for the giant domed city featured in the film by freezing kits food, but for some reason deliveries have dried up. So he spends his time freezing 'runners', those 'oldies' attempting to flout the law. But, the guy is so slow and shaky it is a wonder how he ever caught a crate of fish, let alone a man. He was certainly no match for skinny little Logan.

Interesting to note that the book never included the shiny ice robot. Instead Box is a violent inmate with cybernetic implants in an Arctic prison Logan and his girl, Jessica, are trapped in. He meets the same fate though - death at the hands of the hero - after he rapes Jessica.

WATCH in awe >>>

Logan's Run - Insane Robot - For more of the funniest videos, click here

Tobor the Great

4. Tobor


Director: Lee Sholem
Starring: Charles Drake, Karin Booth, Billy Chapin and Lew Smith as Tobor.

'Man-made monster with every human emotion'

Let's get one thing straight - Tobor is only really 'great' at two things - knocking shit over and forming special relationships with small boys.

He's the creation of rocket scientist Dr Ralph Harrison (Drake), who has walked out on the American space agency he has been working for in disgust due to its haphazard approach to trying get a man into space. The good doc believes it is still unsafe for humans, and so builds his own 'spaceman' called Tobor (robot spelt backwards if you haven't already realised) presumably from any old bits of piping and vent screens he had in his basement.

Tobor gets to know Gadge
It is where his grandson Gadge (Chapin) discovers the seven-foot giant machine and seems to fall instantly in love - "you're beautiful", he says. But, what would the kid know? The thing is one of the ugliest robots you would come across (see right). The same little boy is later thrown across a room by Tobor after he becomes a little mentally unstable following a test.

The big fella does have the common decency to apologize though - after he feels guilty. You see, Tobor has been fitted with an array of human emotions, so understandably, he gets really pissed off when the Communists kidnap him and try to make him do bad things.

WATCH in awe >>>

Billy Chapin in TOBOR, THE GREAT - 1954 - Click here for more blooper videos

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

3. Torg


Director: Nicholas Webster.
Starring: John Call, Leonard Hicks, Vincent Beck and Bill McCutcheon

'Santa Kidnapped by the Martians! Out-of-this-world fun 'n' action'

As the ridiculous title might suggest, this is quite simply one of the worst ideas for a movie ever conceived. And it also happens to feature one of the worst robots in cinema. He looks like something the kids would make from some cardboard, pipes, pots and other scrap from the garage, and coated it with silver paint.

Torg from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
The Martians are fed up with their children's on-going obsession with Santa Claus after watching TV beemed in from Earth, so they decide to kidnap him from the North Pole and take him back to Mars to make presents.
They first send in their robot Torg - who, after bursting down Santa's door and grabbing the nearest elf, is stopped in his tracks.

Through some sort of jolly fat man mind control, Santa makes the machine believe he is only a toy - presumably one that ends up broken and in the trash just a few days after Christmas. It's really all that Torg (Grot spelt backwards) deserved.

WATCH in awe >>>

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians - Robot Attacks Santa - The most amazing home videos are here

Devil Girl From Mars

2. Chanti


Director: David MacDonald
Starring: Patricia Laffan, Hugh McDermott, Adrienne Corri and Hazel Court.

'The fantastic night of terror that menaced the fate of the world!'

Poor old Mars. It copped quite a whack in 1950s in the way its supposed inhabitants were portrayed on screen. Having them kidnap Santa was probably the biggest insult. However, for this Martian, simply one Earth man - even if it was Father Christmas - was not enough. Instead the Devil Girl, Nyah (Laffan), wanted a spaceship full of local studs. Probably shouldn't have landed in the Scottish Highlands then.

Devil Girl From Mars and her robot
Nyah's plan is to take them back to her home planet and use them as breeding stock. Kinky. Unfortunately this tight leather-wearing dominatrix-style vixen was ahead of her time. Men just didn't want to be told what to do back then. Her come-on strong attitude certainly wasn't welcomed, neither was the massive box-shaped gimp, ah, I mean, robot she brought along with her.

Chanti tries to do an imitation of Gort, be all menacing and vaporizing shit like already dead trees - but Gort, and menacing for that matter, it is not. It looks more an early cordless television remote - but really really big. But, being nine-feet tall I guess it wouldn't ever get stuck in the back of the couch.

WATCH in awe >>>

Devil Girl from Mars 1 - A funny movie is a click away

Target Earth

1. Venusian Robots

From TARGET EARTH (1954)

Director: Sherman A. Rose
Starring: Richard Denning, Kathleen Crowley, Virginia Grey and Richard Reeves.

'You'll be paralyzed with fear!''

Great name for an alien invasion movie, but tragically bad robots. While credit must be given to them for having the tightest buns - buns of steel you might say (watch the video below) - they had terrible bow-legs, like they had ridden some magical Venusian horse across space just to get here.

As Venus makes this pathetic attempt to take over Earth, there are supposed to be hundreds of these robots roaming around Chicago, stumbling into homes through windows and bumping into furniture. But due to budget constraints only one robot costume was made and it was used for all robot scenes. This is why you never see more than one member of the supposed 'robot army' in a shot.

Again, like Gort, the robots (or should that be robot) are able fire out a laser beam from their eye area, vaporising anything it wants, but these creations are susceptable to certain sound waves, namely yodelling - a plot point borrowed by director Tim Burton 50 years later for his modern-day cornfest Mars Attacks.

WATCH in awe >>>

Target Earth - Click here for more home videos

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3 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Anonymous

November 8th 2009 02:36
I've been trying to locate an old (50s/60s) sci-fi movie where a dad doesn't think a boy is good enough for his daughter and it turns out the dad -unbeknownst to himself- is a robot/android.

Ever heard of it?

Jerry D.

Comment by Anonymous

November 1st 2011 20:28
Forbidden Planet 1956 not 1966

Comment by Anonymous

May 25th 2012 21:20
Do you think it might be The Creation of the Humanoids? But it's a brother who thinks his sister is too good to date a robot. It's a great movie however, just saw it for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It's from 1962. If you haven't seen it, try to catch it sometime. Got some great thoughts on robots and humans.

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