I Married a Monster From Outer Space (1958)

“Is pride something monsters don’t understand?”

I Married a Monster Poster

Synopsis:
A newlywed (Gloria Talbott) whose husband (Tom Tryon) suddenly acts emotionless learns that he has been possessed by an alien whose dying species hopes to propagate by marrying women on Earth — but no one will believe her story.

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Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “intelligent, atmospheric, subtly made, deliberately paced sci-fi thriller” is one “of the best of the fifties ‘paranoia’ films”. He points out that director Gene Fowler, Jr.’s history as “an editor [for] Fritz Lang” is shown through “his use of shadows and bizarre camera angles to heighten tension” as well as “his ‘invisible’ editing (time passes on the screen, although it appears that the camera never shuts down).” He notes that Talbott — “an excellent heroine for sci-fi and horror films” — “gives a solid performance, exhibiting intelligence and a rare combination of strength and vulnerability”, but argues that “Tryon, years before becoming a best-selling author, is better as the alien than as the human counterpart”. (The fact that Tryon was gay in real life, thus truly lacking a desire for sexual intimacy with women, adds an interesting spin to this assertion.) To that end, some viewers have pointed out the subtle “gay undertones” to the film, given that Talbott is continuously sexually frustrated (she can’t get Tryon interested in sex or reproduction) and the men are more eager to spend time with each other than with their wives. Finally, I agree with Peary that this film’s “outrageous title is unsuited” for it: Tryon and his fellow aliens are devious and determined, but not particularly monstrous in their actions; why not call it I Married an Alien From Outer Space instead?

Note: The final shot in the film (of Tryon) seems inexplicable, but I suppose it was a necessary if illogical concession for a happy ending.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Effectively atmospheric cinematography
    I Married a Monster Cinematography
    I Married a Monster Cinematography2

Must See?
Yes, as a well-made entry in a specific genre and era. Discussed at length in Peary’s Cult Movies book.

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One Response to “I Married a Monster From Outer Space (1958)”

  1. Its fun title notwithstanding (I actually think it’s one of the few good things about the movie), this isn’t must-see. I just don’t think it’s all that good.

    Coming on the heels of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’, ‘IMAMFOS’ merely comes off as pale imitation. (In ‘Invasion’, all people are changed to aliens – here it’s just the adult men.) Even on its own derivative terms, the film is awkward – as is much of the dialogue. There are some solid touches here and there but mostly the script comes off like a first draft…with several very clumsy or pointless mistakes.

    Worst of all, the film seems to ride on its main premise – as if fleshing out development just isn’t necessary. This gives way to a lot of rather dull filler.

    As for Tryon…his screen-time as the regular character of Bill is practically non-existent, so it makes little sense for Peary to say he’s “better” as the alien when there’s just about nothing to compare that to. Being gay, it was probably rather easy for Tryon to play an alien with no real attraction to women. But, on the other hand, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that gay actors are incapable of being believable when playing heterosexual men. Not all of them are capable, of course…but the better actors are able to pull that off. That’s the art of acting, after all.

    My vote for best performance here: character actress Jean Carson as Helen. She has the best lines; in fact, her fun dialogue is at such odds with the rest of the script, one might almost think she wrote (or re-wrote) her part herself.

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