Welcome to another edition of “Alien Invasion Films of the 1950s!” I was excited when Terror Dave Albaugh asked me to guest author today’s selection as it happens to be one of my favorites…and often disregarded. I guess that’s to be expected when a film is pegged with a sensationalistic moniker designed to attract 1958 teenagers like I Married a Monster from Outer Space, but don’t let it fool you. This movie is one of the genre’s best entries and absolutely worth watching regardless of its tabloid title.
I Married a Monster from Outer Space is one of three notable films that comprised a subgenre of ’50s invasion flicks involving aliens taking over the bodies of humans. The other two, Invaders from Mars (1953 – and covered HERE) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1955), are more widely known and both features a story told from the point of view of one of its main characters. I Married a Monster from Outer Space differs in that its story is told from TWO viewpoints…human and alien. This manages to create even more tension as viewers become engrossed in the dilemmas of two separate species with opposing objectives.
The movie centers on Marge (Gloria Talbott) who should be celebrating the happiest moments of her life marrying her sweetheart, Bill Farrell (Tom Tryon). Unfortunately, her groom-to-be is abducted by tentacle-faced aliens the night before the wedding; ones that not only assumes Bill’s physical features but his place at the altar as well.
Marge immediately senses that something’s wrong and Talbott does a tremendous job eliciting sympathy from the audience. You absolutely feel her character’s frustration as the now emotionless, “Bill,” is clearly not the man she fell in love with. This is particularly evident on their wedding night when she’s noticeably insecure regarding her “wifely duties” and Bill provides little in the way of reassurance.
After the fateful day of their wedding, the film skips an entire year but there’s no doubt that the days in between have been nothing but one disappointment after another for Marge. Not the least of her angst revolves around the couple’s inability to conceive a child; something that’s also of concern to her pseudo husband. It’s revealed that the aliens (devoid of females) have invaded Earth for the purpose of making love and not war. Rather than outright conquest, their goal is to save their dying species by breeding with human women.
As Marge grows more despondent, more men in town are slowly being replaced with extraterrestrial doppelgangers. It isn’t long before she discovers the sinister truth and is now left with the dubious task of trying to convince the rest of the world what is happening. Just like the protagonists in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Invaders from Mars, she finds that this is no easy feat and has little choice but to remain living with the alien; the two forming an uneasy armistice.
I Married a Monster from Outer Space was directed by Gene Fowler Jr. who’d once worked with the legendary German filmmaker, Fritz Lang (Metropolis, M). You can absolutely see Lang’s influences, most notably in a scene where one of the aliens is looking in a store window, staring at a baby doll on display. A woman (presumably a prostitute) shows up in the reflection and we see the horror on her face as she discovers the “man” she’s trying to solicit isn’t human. In Lang’s film, M (1931), there’s a similar scene featuring child killer, Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), looking in a shop window before ogling the reflection of a little girl walking by. As with that example, seeing something unsavory gazing at innocence (in this case what the doll represents) proves effective and is arguably the scariest moment of the film. Another Lang influence is seen in Fowler’s creative use of shadow, adding to the overall feelings of mistrust and paranoia.
Probably the only unintentionally funny moments are towards the end when German shepherd dogs crouch down and start hunting the aliens. This type of stalking behavior is much more characteristic of felines as opposed to canines and looks anything but natural. It’s still fun cheering on “Man’s Best Friend” (especially after “Bill” kills an innocent puppy earlier in the film) who become the film’s champions as they’re the only foil to the bullet proof invaders.
Just like Invasion of the Body Snatchers which has often been considered a metaphor for communism (something denied by its creators), this film also has been given higher meaning by some suggesting it’s a metaphor for unsuspecting straight women marrying gay men. While you can certainly draw parallels, it is unlikely that this was Folwer’s intention. Since the aliens also refuse to drink alcohol and create distrust by not imbibing at the local tavern, I suppose one could also suggest the movie was against AA. Regardless of what you read into it (if anything), you won’t be disappointed.
Despite its overblown title, I Married a Monster from Outer Space is not overplayed which makes it much more effective. It also avoids being predictable…
As the movie progresses, the alien “Bill” starts to develop feelings for Marge. You’d expect this to lead to a “love conquers all” solution but, thankfully, this is not the case. It does, however, garner some sympathy from the audience which is also testament to the effectiveness of the film’s double narrative.
If you haven’t seen it already, I urge you to do so. While currently out of print, it is available on Amazon “Instant Video” or through private sellers.
And to all those unsuspecting brides to be out there, remember…
If your fiancé can see in the dark and develops an allergy to alcohol…you may want to consider handing that ring back!