Last night, I watched Poltergeist on TCM and I found myself thinking about how much I’ve always liked James Karen’s performance in that film. Karen plays Craig T. Nelson’s boss, the guy who moved the headstones but left the bodies. Karen also appeared in Return of the Living Dead and, up until his death a few years ago, he was a busy character actor. He almost always seemed to play slightly sinister executive types. If you saw him in a film, you knew he would probably be a crooked businessman, a corrupt lawyer, or a politician on the take. And yet, even though he often played less than savory characters, he always played them not as being evil but instead, at worst, merely misguided. Anyway, as I watched him get yelled at by Craig T. Nelson in Poltergeist, I decided that our next horror on the lens would be a James Karen film.
Today’s horror on the lens is the 1965 film, Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster. This film features not only the debut of James Karen but it also gave him a rare lead role. For once, james Karen gets to the hero! Though he’s much younger than he was when he appeared in films like Poltergeist and Return of the Living Dead, you’ll know James Karen as soon as you see him.
Despite the movie’s title, it’s not about Frankenstein. Instead, it’s about an astronaut named Frank who is actually an android. When his latest mission into space goes wrong, Frank ends up crashing in Puerto Rico. Now malfunctioning, Frank causes some major chaos. Can his creator, Dr. Adam Steele (James Karen), track Frank down and put an end to his reign of terror?
And what about the Martians? Android Frank isn’t the only threat in Puerto Rico. A group of Martians have landed and are determined to kidnap any girl wearing a bikini so that they can use them to repopulate their race. We’re told that every woman on Mars — with the apparent exception of Princess Marcuzan, played with evil haughtiness by Marilyn Hanold — has been killed as the result of an atomic war. Assisting Princess Marcuzan is Dr. Nadir (Lou Cutell), a short, bald Martian with pointy ears.
One of the oddest things about Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster is that, despite being a standard — if wonderfully nonsensical — low-budget B-movie, it features a great soundtrack! Just try to get “That’s The Way It’s Got To Be” out of your head.