director Gene Fowler Jr.
I Married a Monster from Outer Space is a fascinating B-picture. It comes from director Gene Fowler Jr, fresh off his work on I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) (I love those first person declarative titles), and stars the very cute Gloria Talbott as the declarative bride and brooding young star Tom Tyron as the monster in human form.
While its closest obvious parallels are straight out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), I Married a Monster from Outer Space shifts the alien invasion of human replicants decidedly to the domestic front. In Invasion, people are being replaced by unemotional drone-like pod people, a broader cultural critique, whichever way you interpret it. In I Married, the invasion is primarily in the home and bedroom, though where it broadens out is in a small town’s entire male world.
The aliens of the film turn out to come from a dying world, one in which all females have already perished. Their plan for Earth is to take over human male bodies and impregnate women, perpetuating their species.
Tryon plays Bill Farrell, the first man captured, the night before his wedding to Marge (Talbott). From their wedding night onward, Marge knows something is awry. They aren’t succeeding in making a baby. And when Bill acts strangely, she follows him and discovers his secret. Only, a lot of key male roles in the town have been also replaced, the chief of police and a number of officers as well.
The film is replete with text and subtext critiquing marriage as an institution, from the men at the bar avoiding their wives to the Farrell’s broken home life. Marge finds herself in a horror film, not a 1950’s family sit-com where the nuclear family resolves all. It’s quite subversive in calling out the institutions that the Fifties are so well-known for touting.
Further than that, Bill’s world is also a hell. Tryon and Talbott bring great pathos to their roles. Bill doesn’t know how to love: He’s an alien whose species has never felt such a thing. But he comes to learn of it, through his time with Marge, if only to an extent. So, he’s quite sympathetic in the context of the film, if the other aliens are more ruthless.
There is a queer subtext as well. You could read Bill as gay literally or metaphorically. Tryon was a closeted gay actor at the time he played the role. The internal alienation that both husband and wife suffer through in the film is something that I think could make for ripe analysis, perhaps in a variety of interpretations.
It’s not nearly the spectacular film that Don Siegel’s Invasion is, but it’s a very interesting and provocative flick. How much of this subtext was intentional critique, subversive messaging, who knows? It’s easily readable that way today.
It also features some cheap but effectively gruesome FX, when the monsters are finally killed, dissolving into a mess of putrescence. It’s also almost shockingly gory for the time.
A really, really interesting flick. Also available on YouTube from the Paramount Vault.