I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958)
Of the 1950’s sci-fi films that dealt with alien entities taking over and occupying humans, Invaders from Mars (1953), It Came from Outer Space (1953), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1955), and the lesser-known I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) are my favorites. IMAMFOS’ ridiculous exposé title has not helped elevating the film from obscurity, although it is a fan favorite and a bit of a cult celebration. Danny Peary discusses the film at length in Cult Movies (1981, Delta Books).
Director Gene Fowler, Jr. was an editor at one time for the German maestro Fritz Lang. His contrubutions can be seen in several films, including It’s a Mad4 World (1963)(which must have been a monster to edit), While the City Sleeps (1956), the war-documentary San Pietro (1945), and The Woman in the Window (1944). He edited several TV show episodes, including Gilligan’s Island (1966) and The Wild Wild West (1966-1967). Genre-enthusiasts will also take note that he also directed I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957). IMAMFOS is a visual film, with competent visual effects by John P. Fulton.
IMAMFOS is structured a bit differently than films of the alien-takeover sub-genre. It is part sci-fi and horror, and like Invaders from Mars, is a point-of-view film. We see much of the story from Marge’s (a fit Gloria Talbott) perspective. Unlike several late 50’s entries into the alien-invader genre (e.g. Invasion of the Saucer Men, 1957), IMAMFOS is played straight up, low key with no humor. This isn’t about teenagers battling the blob or little green men. This is about aliens procreating with humans.
Gloria Talbott is especially good in the movie as heroine and victim. Interesting, Danny Peary describes her “not pretty in the movie heroine sense”. I think she was sexy as hell. Tom Tryon as the “monster” husband Bill Farrell comes across a being flat, but he is playing a flat character -an alien living in a man’s body. He reminds me a bit of a young Charlton Heston, with a handsome, stoic and athletic presence. I think Kevin McCarthy (albiet a bit older) would have added a bit more flair to the part.
The aliens in this film are unforgettable. They were designed and probably fabricated by jack-of-all trades Charles Gemora who also designed the tri-ocular Martian in George Pal’s The War of the Worlds (1953). However, I like that several scenes just show a hint of the aliens through superimposition and fades.
For me, the reflection of an alien gazing at a doll through a department store window is the pinnacle of horror cinema. You know what the aliens are up to and you know immediately how they plan to take over the earth. The hairs on my neck stand up.