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March 1, 2012

Midnight Movie of the Week #113 - I Married a Monster from Outer Space

Though it's own merits - which I will speak of (OK, type of) in the near future - are more than enough to land I Married A Monster from Outer Space some love from The Mike, it's another factoid about I Married a Monster from Outer Space a special place in my heart.  For it was this film - with its sensational title and classic sci-fi style - that headlined drive-in double features during 1958, paired up with a low budget film that happened to be called The Blob.  A legend was born.
Blobs aside, I Married a Monster from Outer Space is one of the more interesting sci-fi/horror entries of the era.  There are obvious parallels to be drawn with films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Invaders From Mars, but the one-to-one nature of this film provides an interesting shift in dynamics from its contemporaries.  As you could probably guess from the title - it's not a euphemism - this time the invasion takes a honeymoon.
Tom Tryon and Gloria Talbott star, the latter as the character who might utter the title in frustration and the former as the "monster".  After a few drinks, Tryon's Bill is stopped by a lifeless body in the middle of the road, which leads to his first encounter with an extraterrestrial that looks kind of like Man-Thing.  This is a small problem, considering it's the night before his wedding, but he shows up just in time to make his bride happy. Proving once again that all a dude has to do for a wedding is SHOW UP.
It doesn't take long for Talbott's Marge to notice odd behavior from her groom.  Early warning signs are pretty obvious to observers - like Bill driving without headlights or forgetting to open his wife's car door - but it's the moments when the couple find themselves alone that really start to worry Marge.  Their honeymoon scene is the film's first major awkward relationship moment, as Marge stares off into the ocean with her chest puffed out - and Bill doesn't really have a clue what to do.  In fact, Bill spends much of the movie making faces that remind me of Steve Martin's psychotic dentist from Little Shop of Horrors.
Much of the film follows the invasion from male to male, as we learn that the creatures that have inhabited Earth men come from a planet where women are no longer available for reproduction.  The alien plan hasn't fully developed yet - the guys from space have no idea how to mate with human women - but they know that getting your foot in the door is half the battle.  (Knowing - of course - is the other half).  The takeover of the town creates the scenes that remind of other invasion films - Marge runs from place to place trying to find help and is generally considered crazy - but also provides some unique moments.  The impact that the invasion has on the local bar is about the only thing that really alerts anyone else to the change in these men - but when the only witnesses are bartenders and floozies, there aren't really any witnesses.
Unlike many sci-fi films of the '50s, this is one of the only religious references in the film.
Talbott and Tryon have to carry most of the film, and the interesting pair of actors do a lot for the film. I'm not too familiar with either of them outside of this film (I just learned that Tryon was a candidate to play Sam Loomis in Psycho, which makes sense based on his looks), but they seem well fitted to this odd sci-fi tale.  Talbott balances between looking like a Hollywood heroine and an everyday housewife of the era, while Tryon fills the awkward creature-in-man-suit role extremely well from a physical standpoint.  There is next to no depth to these characters, but director Gene Fowler, Jr. manages to frame everything really well and there are plenty of shadowy shots that set the mood of despair for the frightened wife.
I Married a Monster from Outer Space has plenty of flaws, starting with a title that implies the viewer shouldn't take the film too seriously.  It's a smarter film than it sounds, but it doesn't reach the chills of Body Snatchers or the paranoia of Invaders from Mars.  Part of me wants to write off the film as a unique failure, but the imagery is fantastic and the concept is uniquely-handled by the director and the leads. It works well enough to keep me coming back to it every once in a while, and that's good enough for me.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. Definitely a flick that deserves a little love!

Stacia said...

I love this movie. My favorite bit is the metaphor for sexual relationships and power within marriage in the 1950s, but it's just a lot of fun as a straight 50s scifi B movie.