FILM BOOK OF FEAR: I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958)

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The 1950s are known for having an almost endless supply of alien invasion and science fiction films. In fact, no era has produced more films of this type, before or since. Though many can be considered cheesy, quite a few of the entries were serious, featuring great story lines, big name actors of the time and fun special effects, many of which had never been tried before.

I Married A Monster From Outer Space came out in 1958, near the end of the science fiction decade. Despite the cheesy title, it is one of the serious entries with a well-written story. The aliens themselves, created by Charles Gemora, when revealed, are very original and scary looking. In fact, the dogs who attack the undisguised aliens near the end of the film were initially too scared to approach the costumed actors. The dogs were then acclimated to the presence of the suited actors, perhaps too well. When the time came to shoot the scene of the dogs attacking the aliens, the dogs wouldn’t attack the aliens, but jumped playfully around and on them instead.

The film stars Tom Tryon and Gloria Talbot as couple Bill and Marge. The opening scene shows the earth from a distance, slowly getting bigger as the credits role. We then cut to a club, The King’s, where five friends are hanging out on the eve of Bill’s wedding. Bill leaves early as he has a big day tomorrow.

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On his drive home, he comes across a body, face down, in the middle of the road. He stops to help and when he gets out of his car to investigate, the body is gone. Standing there confused, a glowing three-fingered hand grabs his left shoulder. When he turns around he is shocked to see a glowing alien staring back at him. He falls to the ground in fright and is engulfed in a black, inky smoke. When the smoke dissipates, Bill’s body is gone.

It is now the next day and Bill is running late for his wedding to Marge, who is getting frustrated. Bill shows up, apologizing for being late and after the ceremony, they leave for their honeymoon. During the drive, they pass one of the aliens watching the car from the bushes. Bill is acting strange and is short-tempered towards Marge, which is very uncharacteristic of him. When they arrive at the hotel, Bill is acting distant and cold. While on the balcony, they listen to thunder of an approaching storm, and in a flash of lightning, the face of an alien appears on Bill’s face. He has been taken over.

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Fast forward to a year later. Marge is writing a letter to her mother saying that she is frightened and bewildered. She says that it has been a horrible year and that Bill isn’t the man that she fell in love with. Even Bill’s friends notice that something is wrong as he never meets with them for drinks anymore and acts distant. After leaving the bar to go propose to his girlfriend, Sam also comes face to face with one of the aliens and he too is taken over.

Marge is then seen at her doctor, trying to find out why she has not been able to get pregnant. The doctor tells her that she is in perfect health and that there is no reason why she shouldn’t be able to have kids. Perhaps the problem is with Bill. The doctor suggests Bill coming in to see him.

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As an anniversary gift Marge buys Bill a dog. When she reveals the dog to Bill, it acts aggressive towards him, growling and barking. The dog senses something is wrong with him. Bill continues to act strange and then goes into the basement, where the dog is being kept. He kills the dog, telling Marge that it strangled itself with a tight collar.

Marge and Bill then have a conversation about her visit to the doctor. Bill agrees to see the doctor but it is evident that he is not happy about it. Perhaps he is scared that the doctor will realize that he is not human? While thinking about it he crushes a metal cigarette lighter in his hand as Marge answers the door. Sam needs to see Bill and once alone reveals that he is also an alien. Little by little the male population is being taken over.

Later that same evening Marge follows Bill, who is going to the alien ship. Once he arrives, Marge witnesses Bill transform into one of the aliens. The black smoke leaves his body and forms into an alien. It then goes into the ship. Marge runs up to Bill who is standing their stiffly. When she tries to shake him he falls to the ground. When she looks at him Bill’s face is blank and a cockroach runs over his face, in fact right over his right eye, with no response.

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Marge runs back into town trying to convince anyone that will listen as to what she has seen. The police, now also transformed, take her back to the station. While there she talks to Captain Collins, a long-time friend. He humors her, telling her that he will look into it, telling her to go home and act normal towards Bill or else the aliens will suspect. In a flash of lighting it is revealed that Collins too is now inhabited.

The next day we see Sam’s wedding rehearsal. Marge tells Helen, Sam’s fiancĂ©, that she needs to talk to her and begs her not to marry him. Just as Marge is about to tell her what she suspects, Bill interrupts. Later Bill tells Marge that Sam’s wedding was sentimental and in an act to get close to Marge, she shuts him down and acts cold.

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One power that the aliens possess is telepathy. When Marge rushed into town trying to convince someone that she saw an alien, the first place she goes is the bar that Bill and Sam used to frequent. Inside was a gentleman that was interested in hooking up with her, hoping that her marriage was failing and that Marge needed company. He later tracks down where Marge lives and while outside the house, Bill contacts the police telepathically to come get him. When they arrive he tells him what he is doing and ends up shooting one of the officers but the aliens are impervious to bullets. They then kill him.

Bill meets up with Sam and Harry at the bar to discuss their plans. They complain about humans and how ineffective their bodies are. They then talk about how their scientists are working on a way so that they can have children with humans. Something else the aliens cannot deal with is oxygen. While on a picnic the next day, Sam falls into the water while in a boat with Helen. He is brought to shore and the doctor gives him oxygen, killing him.

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Marge’s attempts to get messages out for help fail. When trying to call Washington, all lines are busy. When she goes to send a telegram to the FBI, the clerk rips it up after she leaves. When she tries to leave town the roads are blocked. The police tell her that the road is washed out, despite there not being rain for a couple of weeks. She finally tells Bill what she knows.

Bill reveals that they come from a planet in the Andromeda constellation and that their sun became unstable. They built spaceships to bring everyone to safety. Unfortunately the rays of the sun became too intense before the ships were completed and all of their women had died. He explained that on his planet there was no such thing as love and that the men and women came together for breeding purposes only. One thing that they did not anticipate was that when they took over the human bodies, they also took on the emotions as well; something that is taking them awhile to adjust to.

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Marge finally convinces her doctor of what is happening and he gathers anyone he knows that has had children. His thought process is that if they can have babies, then they are human. The posse then go to the woods, armed with guns and dogs, to where Marge saw the ship. As they get closer the dogs start to react, sensing the aliens nearby.

Bill finds out that Marge was able to convince someone of what was going on. He pushes down her locked bedroom door to get the truth. As he grabs her he gets a telepathic message from the ship saying that they are getting attacked.

All of the human-looking aliens rush to the ship to help. Meanwhile two of the aliens leave the ship to go after the attacking humans. They shoot at the aliens to no avail. The bullets just get absorbed by the aliens and the skin instantly heals back up. The aliens’ strength is revealed even more as they just push down trees in front of them. The humans continue to shoot as they run away and the aliens start to shoot back with a ray-gun, killing them instantly. The dogs are then let loose and they attack the aliens violently, tearing off their breathing tubes. The quick intake of oxygen kills them and then the bodies dissolve into a pile of goo.

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The humans then enter the ship to find the actual human bodies of all of the men that had been taken over by the aliens. They are suspended from the ceiling, hooked up to wires and tubes. They unhook the humans and the alien-human forms respond by also turning to goo.

Bill then arrives at the ship, realizing that they have been defeated. Chief Collins then calls the rest of the fleet suggesting that they move to another galaxy saying that the Earth mission has failed and that humans are dangerous. After all of the humans are removed from the ship it explodes on command from the fleet, seen flying away from the Earth.

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Though this film gets decent reviews, one of the things that definitely held it back from more success was the title. People just didn’t know what they were going to get from a movie called I Married A Monster From Outer Space. Originally this film was released as a double feature with The Blob, which ended up being more successful, probably because the tone wasn’t as dark. Director Gene Fowler, Jr. also directed the 1957 classic I Was A Teenage Werewolf, starring Michael Landon.

The film is often compared to the 1956 film Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Though both films are about emotionless aliens taking over human bodies, there is enough of a difference in this one, especially when it comes to breeding with Earth women, to make it seem fresh and original. In fact, one of the tag lines for I Married A Monster From Outer Space was “Is it possible? Is it true? Can humans mate with MONSTERS?

The aliens in this film are also very good at hiding themselves, even from each other. Not only do they develop human habits such as smoking (they cannot drink alcohol though) and having sex, they need to show themselves to each other to confirm that they are actually an alien. After Sam is turned, he visits Bill and starts talking about meeting at the ship. Bill plays completely dumb until Sam reveals his true self and then seems happy to have another alien around.

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Though never released on Blu-ray, it is still available in a nice, widescreen print on DVD. This is one of those movies I always wanted to see growing up but it wasn’t until the DVD release in 2004 that I actually got to see it. To order your own copy from Amazon, just go HERE!

If you would like to read all of the blogs in my Film Book Of Fear series, please click HERE.

~David Albaugh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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