I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958)
I'm not sure there has ever been a movie that has been screwed over by a lame, sensationalist title more than I Married a Monster from Outer Space. With such an exploitative string of words begging to be splashed across drive-in marquees, and the date being 1958, the heyday of crappy b-movies about alien invasions, you'd logically expect this one to be laughably ridiculous. However, it turns out that IMaMfOS is a pretty darned good movie, full of impressive camerawork, smart, challenging dialogue, above-standard special effects, and some really, really good acting by nearly every single person on screen. If there ever was a genre movie that deserved a better title, it was this one.
This will be a joint review between myself and the lovely Pam, part of our continuing series of reviews of sci-fi films from the Golden Age. Before we begin, do you have any opening thoughts on this one, Pam?
You know I've always got plenty to say about b-movies, Nate. We've got two pretty good actors starring in this one. Tom Tryon almost became a star but didn't quite make it, and Gloria Talbott, whose name is misspelled above for some reason, had a long career in decent movies and TV shows. The people who made this movie put some effort into it, and why it ended up with this cheesy title is a mystery. Technically the title's accurate, but don't let it scare you off. And now, on to the good stuff.
The movie opens at a restaurant, where Bill Ferrell (Tom Tryon) is celebrating his last night as a single man. He's in the company of several of his friends, none of whom seem too enthusiastic about the state of matrimony. Bill, on the other hand, seems happy at the thought of his wedding tomorrow and leaves early, telling his friends he's going to stop in to see Marge, his bride-to-be.
Bill (standing) and the boys.
Unfortunately, fate steps in. On the way to Marge's house, he sees a body in the road and stops to investigate. By the time he gets out of his car, the body has disappeared, but he is touched by a mysterious scaly glowing arm which is immediately shown to be connected to a mysterious scaly glowing body. Yes, this is undoubtedly the Monster From Outer Space. This is a truly alien-looking alien, and money must have been spent on the costume. It doesn't appear to be wearing any clothes, so we can see it radiates a significant amount of light from all over its body. I should be all technical-minded here and ask what could make it emit this much light, but it's such a cool effect that I can't bring myself to criticize. We can also see that there are several tubes which appear to be an integral part of its body running from its head to its chest. Something to do with its respiratory system, maybe, or its circulatory system? Whatever they're for, it seems to be an extremely vulnerable arrangement. It doesn't seem to have any source of supplied air, so we can deduce that it can breathe Earth's atmosphere with no trouble. Poor Bill collapses on the ground, either from sheer fright or from a physical shock from the alien's touch, and is completely covered by a cloud of smoke. (No clue as to where it came from.) When it recedes, there is no trace of Bill to be seen, and the movie cuts to the next morning, in Marge's room.
"...can you spare a quarter? I need some cigs."
Marge is all dressed up in a long white dress and a veil, and she is not happy. Bill, it seems, is overdue, and she is beginning to wonder if he's run out on her. Two of Bill's friends tell her that, although they all went out for drinks the night before, "Joe" left early to see her. I guess this uncorrected slip makes this officially a b-movie, but so far I'm liking the movie so much I'm going to ignore it.
Not a good day to tick off any woman.
Just then, who should walk in but Bill. Marge greets him with such enthusiasm that her mother has to remind her that she and Bill aren't married yet. Note Tom Tryon's eyes as he enters here, and in subsequent scenes: if you pay attention, you can often see a deer-in-the-headlights look about his eyes when Bill has to interact with Marge. It's subtle but effective at conveying how uncomfortable the alien feels with these new and unfamiliar experiences -- oops, I gave away a major plot point here, but you've probably already figured out that Bill is no longer Bill.
Is this my own wedding album? Zing!
Next we see Bill and Marge emerging from a church, now man and wife. They leave for their honeymoon, Bill driving, of course. Were women even taught to drive in the 1950s? From the movies and TV shows of the time, you'd think not. Something to do with all those gears and motors and complicated mechanical stuff the women, bless their hearts, just couldn't seem to get the hang of. However, Bill seems to be having a little trouble himself. Marge has been sleeping but wakes up as Bill brakes sharply to avoid being hit by another car. The other driver yells at him to turn his lights on, and Marge points out to Bill that in fact the headlights aren't on. As Bill fumbles for the switch, explaining that he forgot to turn them on, Marge says that it's dark now and wants to know how he could see to drive without the lights. He snarls at her that he just forgot, okay? ("Just two little words : I. Forgot." Does anybody but me remember this?) Marge probably remembers that no red-blooded American he-man could be expected to put up with a woman, especially his own wife, criticizing his driving and shuts up. Okay, since we all know that Bill is now the alien, I have to ask, if the alien took over Bill's body, how can he see any better in the dark than Bill could? Or did he just transform his body to match Bill's? And how is it the alien knew how to drive a car but not how to turn on the headlights? Normally things like this would make me dislike a movie, but this one is good enough to transcend the occasional lapses in logic.
Yelling in the car.
Bill continues to act a little funny. When they get to the hotel where they're going to spend their honeymoon, Marge has to remind Bill to open the car door for her (still standard behavior for men in the 1950s, so this is another clue Bill isn't the man he used to be). Later at the dinner table, he can find nothing to talk about, and from Marge's response, this is uncharacteristic. Again, watch Tom Tryon -- he's been staring out the window behind Marge and gives a quick, blink-and-you'll-miss-it awkward smile when she draws his attention to her. Then, upstairs on the balcony outside their bedroom, Marge asks him to tell her he loves her. The unemotional way he says it and the awkward way he holds her, and her own almost imperceptible but clear air of disappointment and puzzlement show acting ability that absolutely blows most of the movies MMT reviews out of the water. Then comes a tiny bit of comic relief, as Bill hears a clap of thunder and has to ask what it is. You can see him evaluating and assimilating the information, forgetting he's still holding Marge. Marge goes inside, and as Bill stares into the storm, lightning flashes show the alien face beneath Bill's own, not a pretty sight. Finally he goes inside and kisses Marge as the scene fades to black. Of course it does, this was the 1950s, what did you expect?
He's not paying attention.
Worst honeymoon ever.
The next scene shows that a few kisses aren't enough to make Marge happy. In a time-worn plot device, we see a close-up of a letter that Marge is writing to her mother, and Marge reveals that it's their anniversary and she's realized that not only is Bill not the man she fell in love with, she's afraid of him. However, Marge stares into space, sighs, and crumples up the letter, knowing that in the 1950s, good American women were expected to just suck it up and get on with the ironing.
Letter says it all.
You may have been wondering if the alien that took over Bill was the only one of its kind, but now we find out it's not so. One of Bill's friends, Sam, the one who was most hostile to marriage, staggers drunkenly into an alley and is engulfed by a cloud of smoke similar to the one we saw take Bill earlier. This time, though, it looks as though his clothes were left behind (maybe they weren't as nice as Bill's?)
Sam is down!
Back to Marge, who is at a doctor's office. She is worried that she and Bill have been married a year and still have no children. The doctor assures her that nothing's wrong with her. The next we see of her, she's coming out of a pet store, carrying a covered cage. She puts it in her car, and then we see that some women in the 1950s could drive after all, as one of Marge's friends drives up in a convertible with Sam, the drunken friend from the alley, sitting beside her. Sam is looking sheepish as the friend proudly announces that he's finally asked her to marry him.
With the doctor.
It seems that Marge, too, can drive, and when she arrives home, she shows Bill her new acquisition, "Junior." He's a cute shaggy little dog, but he doesn't like Bill at all, and Bill clearly doesn't like him. Marge is at a loss to know what's wrong with Junior, since he seemed so friendly at the pet shop. Bill says, as though he's learned something new, that maybe dogs don't like him, which surprises Marge, since she knows Bill has had dogs all his life. He tries again with Junior, but Junior continues to bark and snap at him. Marge takes Junior to the basement, and Bill looks grim and determined as she walks away. Later that evening, he sneaks past Marge into the basement and -- I'm sorry, I had to fast-forward through this part. I love dogs, and it was clear what Bill was planning to do, and I just couldn't force myself to watch. I'll turn the review over to Nate now.
The puppy, in better days.
Yeah, Pam, you're not going to like what happens next, so let's just move on. Hearing the squealing, Marge comes down to the basement in a panic. Bill flatly, almost dispassionately, tells her that the dog met with an accidental demise and for her to go upstairs now. Meekly, she does, though her over-the-shoulder look at him reeks of fear and revulsion. I have to note that the lighting in this scene is fantastic, as Bill is in the shadows throughout and Marge, perhaps more metaphorically than intended, retreats from him into the light at the top of the stairs. Pam is right, this movie is full of little moments like this where it's hard to think of this as a "b-movie".
Great camera angle, also.
Bill is apologetic later about the dog (he does seems genuine here) and he and Marge begin to talk about her doctor visit and about how she wants children. Bill noticeably chills at this topic and they end up sitting on opposite ends of the couch, he awkwardly fake-reading the newspaper and she fidgeting uncomfortably as she tries to find a way to continue the conversation (damn, been there...). Marge says to him "I never know how you are going to react to anything anymore." though her tone is not accusing, but terribly hurt and confused. I've never heard of Gloria Talbott before in my life, but it's clear to me that the reasons she never became a household name had little to do with her ability to effectively play a character.
Note how she wrings her hands nervously.
Their friend Sam shows up now and from him we learn that Bill is an insurance salesman (did we know this before?). Sam, remember, was "assimilated" (for lack of a better term) by the aliens. Bill is not aware of this in the beginning, and after Marge goes to bed, there's some banter between the two men as the come clean to each other. We also learn here that the aliens can't drink alcohol for some reason, which for suburban men in 1958 must have been murder. But they can smoke, if you didn't already notice the ever-present cigarette in Bill's hand, which seems odd. Sam tells Bill that they've, "improved the methane reservoirs in these bodies", which suggests that these aliens breath methane (maybe explaining all those funky tubes sticking out of the alien we saw earlier?).
In an interlude, later that we see two Norrisville Deputies out on the beat (oh, this film takes place in the fictional small town of Norrisville, California, by the way). One has been assimilated already, and he lures the other into an ambush so he too can be (counting the bum he used as bait, that makes at least five humans assimilated so far, maybe more). Taking over local law enforcement seems a pretty smart move on the aliens' part, as it helps control the populace and you can usually move around freely without suspicion (and these aliens' plan seems to be covert for now). Hey, is this all a subtle late-'50s anti-Rooskie warning? You know how I hate communists. Are they warning us about the dangers of Red Commie saboteurs and Trotskyite Fifth Columnists infiltrating our fair cities and taking us over from within? I put nothing past Hollywood in this era, it's not like Red bashing died with McCarthy or anything.
Norrisville, California is just west of Neptune, east of Knots Landing, north of Fairvale, and just south of Sunnydale...
That night, Bill sneaks out of the house. Marge is still awake, lying there in bed stiffly, seemingly terrified that the man she married might lie down with her, and she hears him leave. Suspicious and near her wit's end, she follows him out of the house in her nightgown and fuzzy slippers. Down the street, past the kitty he killed, across the parkway, and into the woods, always keeping just out of sight. Finally they reach a secluded copse of trees where a UFO is parked! Kudos to the filmmakers for their deft use of "day for night" shooting here, as this entire nighttime walking chase scene would be an impossible dark blur if actually filmed after dusk.
Marge's angular cheekbones and button nose are quite appealing.
Is it just me or does Bill look like Michael C. Hall from Dexter?
Bill is standing there stiffly, and as she watches, that spooky smoke comes rolling out of Bill and an alien materializes and goes into the ship. This is a pretty good special effect, utilizing several different types of film overlays, not your typical el-cheapo b-movie work, and you can tell that Paramount wrote some nice checks for this one. Marge then tries to get Bill to leave with her, but he's essentially just a hollow husk and falls over with a thud. A cockroach is superimposed over his face to show us that he's just an empty vessel (not the best optical effect). Is this a rip-off of 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers? What kind of aliens are these? Are they non-corporeal like the Wormhole Aliens from DS9. Is it an early example of the legendary Edgar Suit? Can they turn all smoky and move around like Nightcrawler from X-Men 2? Is the Smoke Monster from Lost one of these aliens!?! Dear god, that explains it all!
"4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42..."
Rightfully freaked out, Marge runs back to town and goes to the only place still open, the bar. But she can't get anyone interested in her wild story about UFOs and how her husband is now staring in Roswell, the bartender thinks she's toasted on cheap boxed wine and the only other guy there just wants to play hide the salami with her. Let this be a lesson to all you hysterical housewives out there, try somewhere else that's open at two in the morning, like Wal-Mart.
Sleezeballs at the bar.
She leaves in a huff and runs into the deputies (both already assimilated) and faints at their feet. They take her to the kindly old Sheriff and she tells him all about her troubles while he nibbles on butter cookies. The portly Sheriff, being a man of wisdom and authority, pretty much tells Marge that she's a wacko nutjob and that, "you're in a state of shock." He gives her some unsolicited marital advice, sends her home to her husband, and orders her to shackle herself to the oven like a good wife. Once she's left, the music turns all sinister and we can tell (not that we haven't already guessed) that the Sheriff has also already been assimilated.
He's a very friendly, if handsy, Sheriff...
So Marge slinks back home and is surprised by Bill (the classic "sitting in dark then turning on the lamp" shot, seen it a million times). He knows where she's, been but to his credit he just asks if she's alright, then offers to come to bed with her.
Throughout all that has been happening, Bill (or, more correctly, the alien life form within Bill) has remained for the most part, if not loving and romantic, at least unfailingly civil and polite to Marge. Before the whole "I saw an alien" thing, even Marge had to admit that her marriage was kinda sorta ok, even if Bill wasn't quite right, and from what we've seen on screen, there were times of real happiness and comfort between them (it couldn 't have been all bad, right?). As the alien inside him grew accustomed to Bill's body and his life (a whole year has passed, remember), he's become softer and kinder to Marge, even if he's still struggling with unfamiliar human emotions. Later scenes, especially the final act, will prove that the alien within Bill does, if not already has, reach a point where he indeed loves Marge. And that's to this movie's credit, as it would be all too easy, and genre-fitting, to have the alien never progress past the hostile and snappy stage. Still, it's not an easy marriage to watch fall apart.
She hoped for so much more.
Anyway, some time passes and Marge seems to have bottled all her fear up inside again (she's had practice). Now it's their friend Sam and his girlfriend Helen's wedding day and everyone shows up in their Sunday best. It's a simple ceremony and Bill is the best man and Marge seems to be maid of honor. During the rehearsals, however, Marge pulls Helen aside and tries to get her to postpone the wedding. She asks if Sam, like Bill, has been acting strange lately and if she suspects there's something "not quite right" about them both. Helen is understandably upset at this suggestion, this is neither the time nor the place for this, and she refuses the offer. As she leaves, Bill steps in and firmly, if politely, walks Marge away. And with that, back to Pam for part three.
She's about to ruin Helen's good mood.
So, it seems there's a Gaslight-type situation going on here. The aliens in human form are doing their best to convince Marge that she's imagining things. We've also learned that the aliens are constructing new bodies for themselves, using individual human bodies as models. This suggests that the humans they base their bodies on are dead, since they couldn't let them go, and it would be inconvenient to keep them imprisoned for very long. It seems to me, though, that the aliens must be taking information from the humans' minds some way, since the ones we've seen have a fairly good idea on how to behave as a human, even if they're not perfect. So far it seems as though Marge is the only one that's noticed anything odd.
His dreamy locks and chiseled chin keep suspicion at bay.
Poor Marge is now back home, pacing around her living room. Bill comes in and offers Marge a drink, and her eyes bore holes into him as she demands to know where his is. She already knows he can't drink alcohol and is obviously looking to provoke him, which seems very risky, but the stress is probably getting to her. Bill, however, doesn't rise to the bait. In fact, he bashfully tells her that Helen and Sam's wedding made him understand a few things, and he tries to take her hand. She just pulls away from him and goes upstairs to bed, and her body language is saying loud and clear, "Don't even think about it, Mister."
"Here, stay drunk, it makes marriage easier."
Bill by now is clued in on human behavior enough to recognize rejection when he sees it. His face is a mixture of anger and sadness, but he's distracted by glimpsing a man outside. We know immediately that this is a bad man, because he's wearing a dark shirt and a white tie. Bill freezes in place and closes his eyes while his face goes all funny, and we see the two alien-possessed cops look at each other and drive off in their squad car. So the aliens can communicate with each other telepathically!
The cops show up like immediately (but then Norrisville is probably very small), and unceremoniously haul the man off to jail. Could they do this, even in 1958? The man was still on the sidewalk, so he wasn't even trespassing. Be that as it may, they do it, and as they're preparing to put him in the cruiser, he fesses up to what he's doing there. He turns out to be the sleazy man we saw try to pick up Marge in the bar when she ran in asking for help, as he informs the policemen. He knew she was unhappily married from what she said, and evidently assumed she was a tramp because she went into a bar alone, and maybe also because she was wearing a nightgown at the time. (Which was a reasonable assumption at the time this movie was made. I've been told that respectable women absolutely did not go into bars then unless they were with a man. Any woman in a bar alone was ipso facto either looking to be picked up or an out-and-out prostitute.) Thus he's been hanging around her house, hoping that she' ll decide she wants a little, um...consolation. Somehow the cops know he's carrying a gun and ask if he's got a permit for it, and it seems his clothes aren't deceptive, because he pulls out a pistol with a silencer on it to boot, and jams it into the cop's side. Although he may be unsavory, he doesn't seem stupid, because he's beginning to realize these cops should not have been able to know he had a gun, and he's connecting it with what Marge said that night in the bar. Unfortunately for him he underestimated the aliens, and he finds out the hard way that shooting them does no good. After they've knocked him out, they decide he's no use to them and shoot him right there in the street.
That's Police Brutality 101.
All these gunshots wake up Marge, but seemingly nobody else in the neighborhood. By this time Bill's come upstairs, and he assures her it was only a car backfiring, which she appears to believe. She's wearing a low-cut nightgown, and Bill seems to like what he sees. Which is odd when you think about it, because he's still an alien underneath the human form, and wouldn't he have spent his entire life up to about a year ago finding scaly skin and exposed breathing tubes attractive? Wouldn't he find Earth females bizarre-looking and repulsive? I certainly find nothing remotely attractive about the aliens' real forms. Maybe he's more broad-minded than I am, but he seems to want to do a little hands-on research in Earthly ways of love. Marge, on the other hand, feels she knows all she needs to know about him already, thank-you-very-much. He picks up on her attitude, and indeed he'd have to be very stupid not to, and meekly slinks off to the guest room. You know, this is an odd response for an alien invader with powers far above those of humans to have. Why should he care what she wants? Is this a sign that the alien in Bill's form may not be all bad?
Hmmm...I'd cross the boundless cosmos for that...
We now go to the bar, where Bill has gone for consolation. He's sitting at a table with Sam and another man. There's a brunette woman nearby, and we know what sort of woman she is by her cheap flashy jewelry and the mere fact she's in the bar by herself. She swishes up to the table and asks if anyone knows what time it is, but the men don't bother to look up from their (numerous) glasses. I thought the aliens couldn't drink alcohol? There's an absence of consensus among the men, as one says he finds human women disgusting, and Sam says he rather likes them. Bill says that like them or not, they have to live with them. Uh, why? Wouldn't it be easier to pass as human if they lived alone? Sam tells Harry, the disgusted guy, that he'll just have to tough it out until the alien scientists find out if they can mutate human female chromosomes so the aliens can have children with them. This suggests that the aliens are all male and must reproduce with human women if their race is to survive. I wonder how this happened? Surely the aliens must have females of their own. If they brought scientists along, this sounds as though the invasion was planned instead of being improvised on account of an unexpected emergency, so why didn't they bring females, too? I'm also wondering what in God's name those kids are going to look like, if their scientists do succeed.
She's got HerpaGohnaSyphilaLitus.
Uh-oh, it seems the aliens really can't drink alcohol, and the bartender is wondering why they ordered all those drinks but haven't touched one, which is completely unlike the way they used to behave. They can't come up with a good answer, and Bill provokes the bartender into punching him a couple of times. From the way Bill reacts, you'd think the bartender's punches didn't connect at all and the sound of fist hitting flesh was added later (ha, ha, I'm so funny). The bartender is not a young man and runs out of steam pretty fast, so he gives up and lets Bill and his friends walk out of the bar.
Consolation in a full glass.
The slutty brunette also decides to leave, and once outside, notices a man wearing a jacket with a hood pulled up over his head standing across the street and looking in a shop window. Sensing prey, she sashays over to him and tries to strike up a conversation. He pays no attention, and finally she yells at him to look at her when she's talking to him. He does, and what she sees under the hood makes her scream and run away. The hooded figure pulls out a strange-looking firearm and disintegrates her completely, after which he turns toward us, and we see, yes it is...another alien! He turns back to focus his attention on the contents of the shop window, which are unexpectedly and rather touchingly dolls and stuffed animals.
Like a TOS-era Federation phaser set on "disintegrate".
The aliens are not all business, and there are times when they feel the need for a little recreation. They and their wives, along with some human males and their wives, are at a picnic by a lake. Sam and Helen are canoeing on the lake, as they have been doing all day, which provokes some ribald commentary from the people on shore. Sam must have let his feelings get the better of him, because the canoe tips and he falls overboard. The real human males aren't worried because they know Sam can swim like a fish, but the aliens know this isn't true anymore and look worried. Helen has to dive in and save him. She's able to get him to shore, but the doctor who comes gives him oxygen, which we learn is another thing the aliens can't tolerate. Sam dies, and the doctor is at a loss to know why, but Marge thinks she knows.
One less alien.
Marge decides to have another go at convincing the Sheriff but has no better luck than before. She tries to call Washington, but the operator tells her that all lines are busy. She tries to send a telegram to the FBI (something I've only read about -- can you even send a telegram anymore?), but as she walks out of the telegraph office, she sees the man who took the form tear it up and throw it away. The aliens must have been busy taking over humans, and somehow they've developed a sound grasp of Earth communication systems and how to block them.
What is that?
Balked at every turn, Marge decides to take the car and hit the road. Even this has been anticipated, and she finds the Norrisville police have set up a roadblock on what must be the only road out of town. She's stopped by a policeman, and from the way he grins at her, we can tell he knows what she's planning to do. She gives up and goes home. You know, the aliens have been surprisingly tolerant of her. Bill must surely suspect she knows what he is by now, and yet he hasn't done anything. I know they hope to have children with Earth women, but there are plenty of others out there, and surely it's getting dangerous to have her running around loose. Admittedly they' ve been able to stop her so far, but who knows how long their luck will last? What if the unpossessed humans in town start believing her? Is Bill demanding that the others not harm her? He does seem rather fond of her.
It's The Truman Show here.
Back home again, Marge is moping in the dark living room when Bill walks in. Probably now past fear, she confronts Bill, who finally admits that she's right, he's not human. He says they came from the Andromeda constellation and left their own planet when their sun became unstable. It took them a while to build enough spaceships to carry all their people, and during the building phase, the sun's rays became stronger and killed all the women. I won't ask why the alien women were more sensitive to the sun's rays than the alien men, or if they were, why couldn't construction be rushed on some spaceships so at least some of the women could be taken to safety. Or why the women couldn't just stay indoors, or dig deep holes, or something. Tom Tryon is doing such a good job here of showing the sadness and pain you'd expect of someone who's lived through what his character has that I don't have the heart to quibble.
Bill spills the beans.
He tells her that the aliens ended up on Earth because life is very rare throughout the galaxy. On their home planet, males and females came together only for breeding purposes, which explains why he was so cold to Marge at first, and why Harry can hardly stand to be with his wife. But the human bodies came with their own emotions, so some of the aliens are succumbing. He also tells her that eventually they and the Earthwomen will have children, which prompts Marge to ask the question I've been wondering about, which is "What kind of children?" Bill replies, "Our kind," which makes Marge recoil in horror, as I would in her place. My mind short-circuits at the thought of what it would be like to give birth to, and care for, an infant that looks like the aliens we've seen. Would you have to change its diaper? How could you control it, if it's as strong as the aliens we've seen? Bullets bounce off them and punches don't affect them, remember? And oh, god, would you have to breast-feed it? Thankfully, it's Nate's turn to finish this review. It may take me a while to recover.
Marge saw Slither and she want's no part of being an alien baby-host.
Thanks, Pam. Well, our last act rolls to its conclusion as the drama is at an all-time high. Marge has learned of the aliens' dastardly plan to colonize the Earth one fertile housewife at a time and she's keen to do something about it. Showing considerably more moxie than your average Eisenhower-era suburban couch queen, Marge goes to the only remaining unassimilated symbol of authority left in town...her gynecologist.
He has a PhD in... adventure!
He, more amazingly, actually buys her story, and, further, agrees to round up a posse of able-bodied men to investigate her claims of a UFO parked in the nearby woods. About a dozen assorted flannel-wearing, Redman- chewing country boys gather up their pistols and their shotguns and head out to the woods. They bring along a pair of chomping German Shepherds, presumably because Marge told them that the aliens are afraid of dogs (or the other way around, more likely). It perhaps says something about the 1950s that these guys totally believe that there could be a UFO in there and be willing to risk their lives to find out.
So they find the UFO eventually and form up a defensive line. Two aliens emerge from the ship to fend them off, pulsating with that unearthly glow, Ray Guns in outstretched claws. The townsfolk open fire, but their bullets seem to do no harm (their skin seems to be self-healing). Routed, the humans fall back and make to disperse.
Just then one of the two dogs pounces on the lead alien. The dog's gnashing teeth and shredding claws manage to dislodge/tear what we can assume is a breathing tube of some sort beneath the alien's chin. With that, the creature collapses in obvious pain and dies in a few seconds. Score one for the canines!
Avenge the puppy!
The other alien, perhaps not aware of what befell his comrade, unwisely allows the other dog to get inside his arc of fire and is also brought down by a punctured air tube. The alien's body then melts away into a puddle of what looks like tapioca pudding (you see that sort of thing in a lot of b-movies, where the dead alien beastie dissolves away at the end, leaving no proof of its existence except for the frantic ramblings of the hero and his best gal).
Once dead, the glow dissipates.
The townsfolk warily go inside the ship (apparently those were the only two aliens aboard). It's a pretty bare- bones set, though I do appreciate not seeing banks of computers with rhythmically blinking Christmas lights or billowing dry ice fog. They find about a dozen human men (all the cast so far, Bill, Sam, the cops, etc...) hanging from wires above boxes with glowing lights. These are the "real" people, as we shall see, and the one's that we' ve been watching for the last hour seem to have been "created" somehow by the aliens to serve as suits for their smoky alien forms (what I was calling "assimilation" before now seems more like "making a copy"). Further, if you "cut off the power" to the "broadcasting circuits" here on the machines hooked up to the real humans, then the "fake" humans running around out there will die, which will then kill of their alien symbiots. None of that makes a damn lick of sense, and this last-second, over-complicated piece of technobabble might be my only real knock on this movie's otherwise excellent script.
Oddly shaped doorway.
Hanging, plugged in like Neo in Machine City.
Meanwhile, alerted telepathically by the ship of the besiegers, Bill and the two police deputies race to the scene to stop them. As the townsfolk pull the wires and disconnect the power, the two policemen grasp their chests in turn and collapse and die. The "real" deputies, now unhooked from their alien machines, regain their senses quickly are none the worse for wear. Whatever stasis they were in seems to not have harmed them, and it even helpfully kept their facial hair from growing.
Marge has also arrived on the scene, determined to find out what is happening (she's the catalyst for all this, after all). As Fake Bill/Inside Alien, who has quite honestly fallen in love with Marge over time, realizes that he's seconds away from death, he tells Marge to leave so she doesn't see him this way. After a rushed soliloquy on loves both gained and lost, he dies in the grass. In a way, the alien clearly reached the point where he wants to be Bill. He already has his body, his life, his emotions, so for all intents and purposes, he is Bill now. For Marge, she's lived with this "man" for over a year in marriage, grown to love him and hate him and back towards love again, and so, to her, his "death" is really like Bill himself has died. Does that make sense?
But, Bill, the "real" Bill, is not really dead. He's standing right there, confused a bit, but otherwise quite healthy. Marge runs to him and they hug, but, come on, seriously, that's going to be a long-term emotional train wreck for Marge. Up until this moment she thought that "fake" Bill was the "real" Bill, just somehow "controlled" by the aliens, right? Now she learns that he wasn't really Bill all along but some sort of artificial lifeform. Bill for his part, is going to need a lot of filling in about what the hell has happened since he left the bar so long ago, and the two of them together are going to need a lot of couples' therapy. Bill's about to learn, not only that he was the subject of alien experimentations, but that some other guy has been banging his wife for the last year. That's got to put a strain on any relationship, don't you think?
Yeah, that's kinda awkward for everyone.
Anyway, the stinger is the Sheriff, moments before his husk dies, calling Galactic Alien Command on what looks like a sparky tampon holder, and telling them that the invasion is off because the Earthmen are alerted and armed. Maybe next time they should try the planet Angel One, they might have better luck finding willing wombs there.
"Or Zanita...gasp, croak..."
So to close it out, I cannot highly enough recommend I Married a Monster from Outer Space to anyone who wants to see a crackin' good story about love and hurt and redemption, all wrapped up in a topical alien invasion plotline that does little to detract from the overall quality of the movie. Curses to the studio, however, for yoking this to such a horribly misleading title. Pam, any final thoughts on this one?
Seconding the "You just have to watch this movie." It's certainly one of the best science fiction movies I've ever watched. The only explanation I can give for the dreadful title is that somebody thought there was more of a market for brainless drive-in-quality science fiction movies than for a thoughtful well-made science fiction movie. Anyway, watch it. It's very much worth your time.
Thanks to Pavel from Budapest for the fantastically clean and virus-free DVD rip of this movie, couldn't have done it without you, man!
Written in February 2011 by Nathan Decker and Pam Burda.
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that's between you and the vengeful wrath of your personal god...