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‘The Robonic Stooges’ Turns the Three Stooges into Robot Superheroes [Video]

For those of you who have trained yourselves to filter out the more horrifying things in the world of entertainment, it might come as a shock that there is currently a Three Stooges movie in theaters that had a budget of several million dollars. By all accounts, it’s not doing so great, to the point where even the commercials that have been airing over the past few weeks have acknowledged that people aren’t exactly flocking to the theaters. And I think I’ve figured out why: For some reason, they chose to make a movie with regular Stooges gags about eye-poking and head injury rather than reviving the 1977 Hanna Barbera cartoon about that time the Three Stooges were robot super-heroes who tried to make out with a giant gorilla.

It really happened, it was called “The Robonic Stooges,” and we have provided a video that will absolutely mystify you after the cut.

The more you learn about The Robonic Stooges, the weirder it gets, and considering we’re starting from the fact that someone thought it would be a good idea to recast these guys as horrifying androids created in mockery of God and Man, that’s saying something.

The show ran for one season in 1977 and 1978, but it was originally planned as part of another show, The Skatebirds. This particular flop actually sounds both ridiculous and awesome, as it was a cartoon show that attempted to capitalize on the popularity of The Banana Splits by bookending the show with the live-action adventures of dudes roller skating around in fur suits as a woodpecker, a pelican and a penguin:

Unfortunately, they had the misfortune to exist in an era just before the half-pipe was discovered by the legendary Won Ton “Animal” Chin, so they weren’t quite able to capture the hearts and minds of America’s youth. And when the show was canceled, someone made the decision to hand over a full half hour to The Robonic Stooges.

It’s worth noting that Curly’s voice is provided by the inimitable Frank Welker, better known as the voice of Fred Jones in Scooby Doo, who had perfected the impression as the voice of Jabberjaw. And considering that The Robonic Stooges is considered one of the weirder and more obscure shows in the H-B canon even when you stack it up against the story of a talking shark who played drums in a rock band and solved mysteries, you can get an idea of how bizarre it actually was.

Like many H-B shows The Robonic Stooges has ties to comics, having been created by Norman Maurer, the son-in-law of Moe (yes that Moe) Howard who had a prolific career in comics, animation and film and even managed the Stooges for awhile. Maurer illustrated several Three Stooges comics, including a series about a young band of the hooligans called The Little Stooges. Some of these comics have even been collected by Papercutz to coincide with the new film’s release.

As you can see from the video above, the Stoogebots seem to work on the same principals that would become more popular a few years later in Inspector Gadget, but taken to a far more horrifying extreme. Seriously, when their extended necks shoot up out of the pile of tomatoes, it looks more like heads on pikes than anything else, and the implications of Curly opening up his stomach and drenching his cape in whatever foul liquid lies within is just… just… I’m pretty close to straight up barfing everywhere over here, you guys.

Either way, with the popularity of super-hero films raging away at the box office, I’m pretty sure that this take on the franchise would’ve gotten more people into theaters. Hell, it couldn’t have gotten fewer of ‘em.

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