I Married a Monster from Outer Space
Shuddery things from beyond the stars, here to breed with human women!
Year of Release: 1958
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Running Time: 78 minutes (1:18)
Director: Gene Fowler Jr.
Gloria Talbott ... Marge Bradley Farrell
Tom Tryon ... Bill Farrell
Robert Ivers ... Harry Phillips
Alan Dexter ... Sam Benson
Jean Carson ... Helen Rhodes
Chuck Wassil ... Ted Hanks
Ty Hardin ... Mac Brody
Ken Lynch ... Dr. Wayne
John Eldredge ... Police Capt. H.B. Collins
Peter Baldwin ... Officer Hank Swanson
A distraught Marge Farrell is growing increasingly alarmed over the changes in her new husband Bill, who's been acting strangely ever since their wedding night. And for good reason: Bill - and most of the other men in their small town - have been taken over by sinister aliens who have arrived on planet Earth to marry human women with the hope of reviving their dying race. Marge has stumbled onto their terrifying plan, and must now convince someone - anyone - to believe her... before the aliens completely inhabit the bodies of the entire male population.
I Married a Monster from Outer Space, remindin' us that you can marry for money or you can marry for love, but either way she's gonna getcher spaceship in the divorce settlement.
An speakin' of hopeless romantics, we've all been a little bit jumpy after what went down with Crudfin at the crappie tournament last week (I'm pretty sure the partial hearing loss from the dynamite is permanent at this point), so this week Cleave Furguson an I figured we'd take it easy an head over to the ball park to watch the Little League game. Yup, that's what we figured alright - one of these days my attempt at relaxation is gonna pan out, just you wait an see. I always like to get there early so I can get the seat next to the bug zapper though - that way when things get boring you can catch the horseflies buzzin' around your nachos an chuck 'em into its electric blue reactor core an watch 'em sizzle like miniature pork chops, but Cleave spent most of the evenin' pretendin' to be a normal human bein' to impress Roxanne Bigelow in the hope that one day she'll get desperate an go out with 'im. Turns out that was Cleave's whole motivation for goin' to the game, but I didn't really have much room to complain after my plot to assassinate Crudfin sunk his Glastron last week. Anyway, Roxanne's daughter Jeannie plays for the Grassmasters, an they were playin' their hated cross-town rivals; the Aces of Base, who're anchored by two of Bambi Pankins' mutant juvies-in-training. Everything was fine right up until the bottom of the 5th when Jeannie came up to bat, down by one with a runner on 2nd, facin' off against Bambi's midget monster Harley on the mound. Now, for those of you that may never've seen Jeannie play ball - she hits like a truck, an despite Harley's cannon of an arm (honed through years of breakin' windows an peltin' passing trains with rocks), Jeannie'd already blasted a triple an a single off 'im that night. So the pitch count's 3-1, an tough as he is, Harley's gettin' a little rubber-armed by this point after throwin' 97 pitches an beatin' Rusty Dockweiler in an arm wrestlin' match before the game, an outta nowhere his 5th pitch goes completely wild an he tags Jeannie right in the left kidney an down she goes. Well, nobody was ever gonna believe it was an accident given Harley's reputation, but I happen to know he has a crush on Jeannie even though she thinks he's toe jam. So when she goes down he goes runs up to the plate to check on 'er an immediately takes an elbow to the ribs, an once she'd regained 'er footing the umpire hadda pull 'er offa Harley while protectin' his crotch from errant kicks.
"Get that crazy little bitch off the field! She's on the rag and off her rocker!" - that was Bambi, because of course it was.
"Why don't you shut that cock-holster you call a mouth and go back to your trailer house, fatass!", screamed Roxanne, who by that point'd shoved 'er way down to the concession stand.
That's about all that was said that I'd care to repeat, but next thing you know Bambi has Roxanne in a headlock tryin' to rip out a handful of hair an they're goin' at it tooth an nail. Roxanne's a lot tougher'n she looks though, an a *whole* lot smarter'n Bambi, an the moment she got into that headlock she buried an uppercut into the Coors Light can Bambi had lodged in 'er cleavage an drove it into 'er chin so hard that you could read the deposit redemption pricing in 'er jaw for a week. Cleave grabbed ahold of Roxanne an I reluctantly grabbed Bambi after it was obvious nobody else was willin' to touch 'er, an after about 10 minutes of decidedly unladylike language an a visit from Deputy Mackle we finally got 'em permanently separated. When it was all said an done the Aces of Base'd held on to win 8-7, an Cleave an I'd sustained far greater injury tryin' to keep those two apart than they'd inflicted on each other. I'm not even gonna tell ya where Bambi grabbed me tryin' to wrench 'erself free, but I haven't been able to look at a hotdog since. Not really sure what this means for Cleave an his chances of datin' Roxanne, but at least they know each other a little more intimately now.
After that I called it a night an headed home to slap some IcyHot on my shoulder an stuff a bag of frozen peas down my shorts for medical purposes. I dunno why, but it just seemed like the kinda night for somethin' a little more subdued, with an aura of decorum, from a time when people treated each other with courtesy an respect provided they had the correct skin-tone. You wouldn't see a bleacher clearin' brawl at a Little League game in 1958, that's for dang sure, so I decided to afford myself a brief moment of escapism from the reality of trailer-trash tribalism to enjoy one of the unsung titles of the 1950s Science Fiction boom - I Married a Monster from Outer Space. I can really sympathize with Gloria Talbott in this flick, cause I was engaged to Bambi Pankins once upon a time an I'm pretty sure she's from outer space too, so as far as I'm concerned this's a flick that everybody needs to see the moment they hit puberty, an if you'll indulge me a minute I'll show ya just why it's so important with a trio of extra-terrestrial trivia. First, if you're havin' trouble conceiving, it may become necessary to rethink your separate bed arrangement. Second, the moment you release a cloud of toxic gas in front of your newly-wedded wife you're suddenly "not the man she married." An third, there's really no tactful way to tell your best friend she's about to marry a Japanese seafood platter.
The movie begins with Bill (our main man) listenin' to all his cynical friends (Sam, Harry, an Ted) complain about how rough it is bein' attached to a buncha bubbly airheads who cater to their every need outta fear of bein' dumped an forever shunned as damaged goods. See, it's the night before Bill's weddin', so they all hafta raz 'im for bein' progressive enough to *appreciate* the woman who's dedicatin' 'er life to havin' his dinner on the table at 5:30 every night, cept when he heads home he spots this drunk stretched out across the road like a discount water bar an hasta stop to check on 'im. Damnedest thing though, cause when he gets outta the car the guy ain't there, an he ends up gettin' ambushed by this pizza-faced Tentacostal creature who uncorks the I Dream of Jeannie bottle an releases a puff of smoke that absorbs Bill like a late-night leak in a Maxi Pad. The next day, Bill shows up late for his wedding no worse for wear an goes through with the ceremony even though his bride (Marge) refuses to convert to Cthulhucism, after which the two of 'em drive to their honeymoon suite where Bill stands around lookin' like he just split a quarter pound joint with Tommy Chong an struggles to get his cordurocket ready for liftoff. Next thing you know a year has passed an Bill's become a zombie insurance adjuster at the offices of Humdrum, Stodgy, and Drudge, while his former friends're bein' tracked down one by one an gettin' hickory cured by fettuccine-faced Pastafarian space mutants. Marge meanwhile is petrified that 'er inability to conceive is gonna result in a visit from the conformity police who may levy charges of homosexuality against the both of 'em if she can't get a bun in the oven pretty quick, an she finds 'erself in the unenviable position of havin' to ask Bill to go see the doctor so he can run some tests on his baby formula to find out why his seamen refuse to leave port.
Then Marge gives Bill a dog for their anniversary an the dog's got about as much love for Bill as Wyoming has for Michael Moore, so she hasta lock it down in the basement like a disobedient Texas home-school student til Bill goes down to try makin' friends an ends up havin' to strangle it cause he knows it'll never stop tryin' to kill 'im so it can roll on his fishy corpse. In the meantime though, Sam's been taken over by a Martian mackerel, an he stops by to tell Bill that Boss Big Mouth Billy Bass wants to see 'im out at the ship, only Marge follows the trail of dead house pets an sees Bill havin' a meetin' of the mollusks with Mr. Picasso Head until a cloud of smoked salmon goes spewin' outta Bill's exhaust pipe an into the ship. The body just kinda stands there like the nerd who always gets picked last in kickball, but when Marge tries askin' it which shirt it wants pressed for the next day it falls over like a Kennedy takin' a roadside sobriety test an she runs like hell back to town where the police chief tells 'er husbands go comatose while upright all the time an to get ahold of 'erself. Next thing, Sam's gettin' hitched to this woman (Helen) who sounds like Mercedes McCambridge after an oxygen tank fulla Agent Orange, an Marge tries to tell 'er the guy's a goldfish cracker but Helen refuses to throw 'im back after it took 'er this long to get 'er hooks in 'im. Then Bill starts gettin' sentimental for the early days of his own marriage when he used to dive into the briny deep searchin' for gaunch shells an tries initiatin' copulation proceedins, but after almost a year of neglectin' 'er daily Lysol regimen, Marge is both ashamed an decidedly uninterested in bearin' his cephalopod people. Bill's bummed out, so he heads down to the bar to meet Sam an Harry who tell 'im their scienticians're workin' on a way to make their trouser trout compatible with the local tuna canneries, but that until they can perfect their technique everybody's little swimmers're dead in the water.
So a few days go by an everybody's down by the lake watchin' skanky carp shake their tails, when Sam falls out of his boat an flops around like an Evangelical at a faith healing tent until he gets dragged onto shore an promptly killed when the doctor pumps oxygen into 'im. Needless to say, Marge's pretty sure that if there really were days like this her mama woulda said somethin' about it, so she tries callin' Ike at the White House but he's too busy fieldin' calls from conservative senators demandin' to know why the country needs an interstate highway program, an 'er attempt to send a telegram to the F.B.I. ends up similarly thwarted when the teleguy decides not to bug J. Edgar Hoover while he's tryin' on ladies undergarments. She ain't about to stand by her manta ray, but she's got noplace else to go, so she heads home an finally tells Bill she knows about his molluskular dystrophy an he ends up spillin' the barnacles an explainin' that all his planet's women got turned into shrimp baskets when their sun went apeshit, an by the time they made it to Earth their ship was an intergalactic wienermobile totally devoid of cephelo-broads. Then he tells 'er how hard it's been to adjust cause back home the sexes didn't cohabitate an that he misses his man-grotto every day; but that if it's any consolation he's startin' to really like 'er an didn't intend to stringer along. Finally, she decides to tell 'er gynecologist what's goin' on an he actually believes 'er cause he's got a knack for detectin' fishy goins on, an so he rallies all the red-blooded American men in the hospital waitin' room an leads a huntin' posse an some sushi-sniffin' hounds out to find the U.F.O. This seems like a pretty good place to quit, but I will say that guns're useless against these particular aliens, so things're gonna get real interesting when the 2nd Amendment forsakes our side of the conflict.
Alrighty, well, as you can see, the exquisitely cheeseball title is a complete misnomer, as I Married a Monster from Outer Space is actually sincere and technically competent, so if you were goin' into this one expecting Ed Woodery, you'd likely be pretty P.O.'d inside five minutes. Like most Science Fiction flicks of the '50s it plays upon Cold War paranoia and draws a *lot* of inspiration from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but it differs significantly where it concerns the aliens' motivation. In Body Snatchers, the aliens were basically emotionless outer space vegetables that duplicated us and carried out our lives as dreary Ben Stein composites to demonstrate the supposed dehumanizing effects of Communism, but here the aliens are simply takin' over our bodies to conceal themselves while they mastermind a plot to make our women compatible with their space spooge to save their dying race. At the end of the day it's marginally less grim than the motivations of the Body Snatchers aliens on the basis that *these* guys are only here because their sun blew up on 'em and their women melted into unsightly heaps of creamed calamari, which is something humans wouldn't have a second thought about doing were the roles reversed. The upbeat ending is also a major contrast, because while Kevin McCarthy does manage to make his way to an unaffected area by the end of Body Snatchers, he's still lost everyone he knew, and there's no guarantee that he'll actually be able to stop the invasion just because he made it to safety. I won't spoil the ending here, but you can rest assured that it wouldn't have gotten a G rating if things had taken a turn for the traumatic in the final minutes. It's all very neat and tidy, having been the beneficiary of a decent budget and backed by a major studio (Paramount), yet it never makes any foolish attempts to be more than it is - a slightly goofy, occasionally poignant B title. It knows its strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly - its audience, as is well illustrated by the 78 minute running time. Credit for the brisk pacing likely belongs to the director, Gene Fowler Jr., who in those days was primarily an editor, and a damn good one (George Tomasini did the editing on *this* film and was an even better editor than Fowler, but Tomasini worked for Hitchcock most of his career, and Hitch's flicks all approach or exceed 2 hours apiece, so I'm inclined to credit Fowler in this instance). He resisted the urge to pad the movie out to 90 minutes, as was becoming customary by the '50s, and in so doing prevents the story from bogging down and becoming an exercise in tedium like so many 1950s Science Fiction flicks.
That said, you all know how cranky I get where it concerns these older titles, so let's give this thing a good probin' and find out if it's possible to enjoy when you're south of 50 years old. The plot, as I mentioned earlier, is basically Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets Mars Needs Women, resulting in a Science Fiction flick that's a little less doom and gloom on the basis that these aliens have emotions. The bad movie science is pretty minimal, although one does wonder how these aliens stay alive when oxygen is apparently lethal to them, but the writer manages to avoid scenes that might slow the pacing or paint the characters as imbeciles, so all-in-all it's a simple story with very few unforced errors. The acting is also sufficient, with Gloria Talbott giving a decent performance as the entrapped bride of the space anchovy drawing ever closer to her breaking point, and Tom Tryon succinctly portraying the robotic alien who gradually develops a conscience as the film progresses. The supporting cast is generally capable, although there really aren't any stand-out performances due to the demeanor of the aliens.
Here's who matters and why: Gloria Talbott (The Leech Woman, The Cyclops, Daughter of Dr. Jekyll), Peter Baldwin (The Weekend Murders, The Ghost 1963, The Space Children), Ty Hardin (The Space Children, Image of the Beast), Ken Lynch (Battlestar Galactica 1979), John Eldredge (Francis in the Haunted House, Invaders from Mars 1953, The Mad Doctor of Market Street, The Black Cat 1941), Alan Dexter (Helter Skelter 1976, It Came from Outer Space), James Anderson (The Thing that Couldn't Die, Five), Jean Carson (Chamber of Horrors), Maxie Rosenbloom (The Boogie Man Will Get You), Darlene Fields (20 Million Miles to Earth, The Snow Creature), Charles Gemora (Phantom of the Rue Morgue, The Gorilla 1930, Tarzan the Tiger, Tarzan the Mighty, The War of the Worlds 1953, The monster and the Girl, Island of Lost Souls, Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932), Helen Jay (The Deadly Mantis, She Devil, Simon King of the Witches, Space Master X-7, The Space Children), Arthur Lovejoy (The 27th Day), Ralph Manza (Godzilla 1998, Retribution, The Philadelphia Experiment, This is Not a Test). Got quite a few mainstream credits on this one as well, so if you're interested, here they are: Tom Tryon (Mac in In Harms Way), Gloria Talbott (Kay Scott in All that Heaven Allows, Isabelle Ducatel in We're No Angels), Alan Dexter (Parson in Paint Your Wagon), James Anderson (Bob Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird), Jean Carson (Nanny in The Party), Steve London (Jack Rossman on The Untouchables), Ralph Manza (Bud on Newhart), Mary Treen (Hilda on The Joey Bishop Show).
The special effects, for the film's budget and production date, are decent, and at times fairly elaborate - with the aliens enjoying a rather unique design. They're basically bipedal mollusks, with multiple tentacles attached to their heads and what looks to be a squid-like beak. The black and white film definitely helps hide some of their inadequacies, but when measured by 2018 standards, virtually no 1950s monster suits hold up very well, and these are no exception. Beyond the creature suits, there's not much to mention other than the smoke that surrounds the aliens' victims as they're being assimilated. I never did quite understand what was happening there, as the aliens seem to *be* the smoke - because once the smoke covers the victim, they simply disappear. In any event, the effects aren't terrible, and are slightly above average for 1958. The shooting locations are pretty good, with the exterior scenes being shot at Malibou Lake and Bronson Canyon, California, and the interiors having been filmed on the Paramount lot. Generally speaking, the shooting locations don't play a major role in the events of the film, so in a way they really stood to lose a lot more than they were likely to gain in this department, as chintzy sets and poorly scouted locations could have damaged the atmosphere, despite never having much opportunity to improve it. Still, the lake is attractive, the woods concealing the spaceship feel authentic, and the 1950s interior design helps create the appearance of a typical, middle-class suburban household to signify to the audience that it could just as easily be happening next door. The soundtrack is classic '50s Science Fiction, which, if we're being completely honest, pretty much all sounds the same. Seriously, you could swap the music in this flick with This Island Earth, or The Day the Earth Stood Still and 95% of the population would never notice, myself included. You've got your loud, blaring horn music designed to convey serious drama and cause permanent hearing loss, tinkly piano tracks accompanying out-of-work opera singers who make spooky "oohh-aaaaaah!" noises, and the standard Science Fiction blips, waves, and other electronic sounds that used to be considered futuristic but just sound cheesy 60 years later. I'm not knockin' the composer; after all, this was what everyone expected in those days. But ultimately it's very generic due to the over-saturation of virtually identical scoring from previous genre efforts. Overall, after 50 years it holds up pretty well on a technical level and passes with good (but never great) scores in all five areas, and more surprising than that - I actually kinda like it. I cannot emphasize enough how crucial that lean 78 minute run time is for the film's entertainment value, because it really keeps everything running smoothly and makes the flick genuinely enjoyable, so definitely check this one out if you get the chance.