Superman III Movie Minute #22 – Scary Robot Lady


Fire and Water Network All-Stars Chris Franklin and Rob Kelly are back with SUPERMAN III MOVIE MINUTE, where they analyze, scrutinize, and you'll-believe-a-man-can-fly-ize the Man of Steel's third big screen adventure starring Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Annette O'Toole, and Robert Vaughn, five minutes at a time!

In minutes 1:45:00-1:50:00, Gus has a change of heart, and Vera and the computer get very close. Special Guest: Brian Heiler!

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Opening theme and closing theme by John Williams.

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7 responses to “Superman III Movie Minute #22 – Scary Robot Lady

  1. Robot Lady was certainly scary, but I got over her pretty quickly. Allow me to explain. Superman III was the first movie my best friend and I were allowed to attend by ourselves. After buying our tickets we saw that Twilight Zone: The Movie was playing in the next auditorium. We decided that after seeing Superman that we would sneak into Twilight Zone, that’s when Dan Akroyd showed us something “really scary”!!!!!! Robot Lady was quickly forgotten in that moment of cinematic terror, and my Buddy and I ran from the theater and never snuck into another movie again.

  2. When I think of Superman III, I first think of this moment.

    Then I’ll ask stuff like “is this the one where Superman is split in two?”, but the scary robot lady is my first image. (My second is the hacked traffic system where the pedestrian signals fight each other, for the record.)

  3. This is the episode I’ve been most anticipating! Vera’s transformation sequence is as disturbing now as it was then. I cannot agree with Brian’s theory that it was intended to be comical as it’s just too intense & not remotely humorous. I think it’s another example of the film’s tone being all over the map. I’ve recently sat & watched the movie in its entirety & still think it’s as big a misfire as I did in 1983.

    What really interests me is why was Annie Ross cast in the film? She was a remarkable jazz singer who did minimal acting & was largely unknown by the masses. She’s terrific in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts but even there she’s playing a singer. I’d encourage folks to see some of online interviews. She led quite a life which included heroin addiction & an affair with Lenny Bruce. She’s probably best known for her classic song “Twisted” which is used to good effect in the intro to Woody Allen’s excellent Deconstructing Harry (1997).

  4. I was so scarred by this scene that it took me a week to muster up the courage to listen.

    I saw Superman III in the theater. I think I was 12. I went with my brother, who was 16. We were dropped off at the theater by my parents.

    I can remember being terrified of that scene in the movie. Like TERRIFIED.

    When the movie ended, I was still shaken. I can remember my brother telling me not to tell my mother that I was frightened because it might mean my folks wouldn’t drop us off alone again. Or that they would be even more cautious in what they would let us watch.

    So I had to steel myself when we got picked up.

    But this scene is just horrific. Cronenberg is an apt comparison!

    Anyways, glad this is behind me. Brrrr ….

  5. I must have been one of the few who saw this movie and wasn’t afraid of robo-Vera. The movie came out when I was seven, but as we watched it via home rental I must have been closer to 8 or 9 before I got to view it, or possibly even watched it on network TV. I’ve seen robo-Vera as the logical for the 80s idea that to portray Gus’ super computer as a villain in it’s own right, there were going to have to feature either a big voice (think Hal, but more menacing) or a human who somehow spoke for him. Enter robo-Vera.
    Vera as a character was superfluous the entire film. She helped make a bit of tension between Ross and Lorelei, but often where three might have made for better banter, there were four. I would speculate that Lester didn’t want to have Lorelei transformed, and perhaps Vaughan refused to go through the prosthetics for this, and it would have been thematically odd to have this happen to Gus (since he was supposed to be going through a redemption arc of a sort).
    I can recall thinking in Star Trek: TNG when Picard is turned into Locutus that this felt similar to Superman III. Weirdly enough, if they had kept the silver skin and sparkles off of robo-Vera, she might have been more terrifying and traumatized even more children, but I bet the effect would look more chilling.

  6. Great job, gents! And it was fun to hear Brian guest star. Even though I haven’t posted through most of this series, I’ve been listening the whole time and just waiting for this moment! Add me as one more kid traumatized by robot lady. As a kid, as much as I was excited seeing Superman battling himself, I was then just as scared seeing Annie Ross done up with the computer makeup and that look on her face….. brrrrrrrr! There was nothing comedic about it, Brian, for this young lad! I’m not sure how much they wanted to make it comedic as they would to have storyboarded, timed out, and designed the makeup beforehand. Then afterwards, someone made a conscious choice to edit it that way, whether it was Lester himself, or his editor, I don’t know if Lester thought that that scene was funny, but it certainly doesn’t play that way. But it’s great that this scene now lives in infamy and so many fans can bond over it’s terror!

    Well done, as always. Keep up the great work!

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