Friday, December 2, 2022

A Young Bride Realizes "I Married A Monster From Outer Space"!

 Marge (Gloria Talbot) reacts in horror when she realizes she's been given three cheese boards for wedding gifts in "I Married a Monster from Outer Space" (1958).

Author's note: No, this is NOT the "Melania Trump Story"--but it comes pretty close (rim shot).

Who doesn't love a wedding?

The beautiful bride, the beaming groom, the adorable flower girls and page boys. The first dance, the heartfelt toasts and the priceless moment when the newly married couple smash wedding cake into each others' face. Or when the bridesmaids duke it out for the bouquet. Or when the in-laws start demanding, "When am I gonna get some grandkids? I mean, Tic-Tock goes the clock. It's not like she's 21 or anything..."

No doubt bride-to-be Marge Bradley (B movie regular Gloria Talbot) is counting on experiencing all of thee above when she marries true love Bill Farrell (Tom Tryon). It's the 1950's, after all, and living happily ever after in the suburbs is the order of the day.

Once Marge and Bill tie the knot, however, things don't go as planned. Hubby Bill suddenly seems distant and evasive. He and Marge have yet to have sex; in fact, Bill doesn't show any physical interest in his perky wife at all. He stays out late at night, ignores (and eventually kills) the puppy Marge gives him and seems to prefer spending all his time with his friends. Male friends.

"Don't worry, darling": Marge feels a growing alienation from hubby Bill (Tom Tryon).

Hmmm. What's going on? How could Marge's dreams of perfect love and domestic bliss shatter so quickly?

Unfortunately, the reason hubby Bill has become so alien to Marge is because he is an alien. Instead of a red-blooded, God-fearing, sport coat wearing regular guy, Marge realizes, "I Married a Monster from Outer Space!"

Which is also our featured flick.

Inspired no doubt by "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "I Married a Monster from Outer Space" (1958) centers on a bunch of aliens who come to Earth via the small town of Norrisville. Their mission? To relocate here. Why? Their planet got too hot to live on or their sun exploded, something like that. Anyway, the residents were building space ships to evacuate, but this ended up taking longer than expected (red tape and price over-runs?). In the mean time, the sun's rays killed off all their females. Now the aliens must not only find a new home, but new mates.

However, once the aliens land on Earth, they realize they can't breathe our air. To mix and mingle, the aliens kidnap human guys and hook them up to some kind of sound system/coat rack in their space ship. This allows the aliens to assume their victims' appearance--for a while, anyway. At some point during the day, the aliens must return to their mother ship in order to recharge and assume their regular form.

Bill's inner alien reveals himself.

However, if the aliens expected to blend seamlessly into daily Earth life, boy, were they wrong. See, while the aliens may look human (for a while, anyway), they don't know the first thing about acting human. On the aliens' home planet, the genders were strictly separated and only came together for "breeding purposes". Possessing superior technological skills, yet emotionally barren, these ETs are a race of Elon Musks. No wonder the lady aliens were happy to keep their close encounters limited to their once-a-year obligation (they must have viewed it like paying taxes--not fun, but necessary).

While Bill's sudden lack of  savior faire tips Marge off that something isn't right, nobody else believes her. It's the '50's, remember, and nobody believed women in the 1950's. It's just nerves, she's told. Or maybe post-honeymoon let down? Or perhaps Marge has read an early draft of The Feminine Mystique and realizes the domestic goddess perfection she's been spoon-fed since childhood is all a sham? 

Whatever the cause, Marge grows increasingly desperate. She wakes up in the middle of the night and finds Bill gone. She goes out looking for him and finds him deep in the forest. That's not all Marge finds: she sees the alien's space ship and gets a gander at the alien inhabiting Bill's body. He's not a looker, that's for sure. In fact, he's an ungainly mixture of Big Foot, an octopus and a robot. He sports breathing tubes sprouting from his head, connecting to his chest via electrical (or UBS) portals. His hands are hairy paws with 3 fingers each. Like I said, not a looker.

The hysterical Marge runs back to town seeking help. She stops at the local bar and approaches two men.

"I've just seen a monster!" she gasps.

"The problem isn't that I'm drunk; it's that you're sober!": Marge gets little help from the patrons at the local bar.

"Who hasn't?" one of the men replies.

Marge then rushes out into the street, where she's picked up by the police.

"Take me to Chief Collins," Marge says before passing out. "He's my Godfather."

Meanwhile, back at the bar, one of the men Marge spoke to muses, "Funny, she doesn't look like a lush..." causing his buddy to retort, "Well, they don't wear badges, you know!"

"I've got a secret": Chief Collins has become alienated from his fellow humans.

Marge tells kindly Chief Collins what she saw. He tells her to calm down. If the other folks in Norrisville hear her wild tales, Collins says, she'll spend the rest of her life in an insane asylum. Marge reluctantly trudges home. When the camera pans back to Chief Collins, he's looking out his office window. A storm's raging outside and when a streak of lightening flashes, it reveals--say it isn't so!--that Marge's Godfather has been taken over by an alien, too!

Poor Marge. Fearful her gal-pal Helen (the gravel-voiced Jean Carson) is also marrying an alien, Marge takes her aside during her wedding rehearsal.

"Oh! I just love rehearsing for weddings!" Helen exclaims. "Especially when it's my own!"

 Marge begs her not to marry Sam, at least not right away.

"After all the years it took me to land him?" Helen barks.

Try as she might, Marge just can't spit it out that Sam might've been replaced by an alien.

"Marge, honey, I don't know what's bothering you," Helen sighs, lighting a cigarette. "But it's not going to keep me from marrying Sam. I love him!"

Marge's news about groom-to-be Sam will wipe that smile off bride-to-be Helen's face.

So the wedding commences--but tragedy follows. The gang (including Marge and Bill) have a picnic by a lake. Sam and Helen, meanwhile, go boating. Suddenly Sam tumbles into the drink, but nobody's  worried; Sam "can swim like a fish." Only now he can't. Seeing Sam flailing about, the men frantically drag him out of the water and give him CPR. However, when the paramedics give Sam oxygen, he dies on the spot. Realizing the aliens can't breathe our air, Marge fears the alien invasion is moving faster than expected.

Finally, Marge tells alien Bill the gig is up. She knows everything: what they really look like, where their space ship is, that they can't breathe our air. 

"Aren't you afraid to be saying this?" alien Bill asks.

"Yes", Marge admits. "Does your race enjoy frightening women? Does that make you proud? Or do monsters have no pride?"

Alien Bill looks hurt. "We understand pride," he says. "But we can't afford it."

"I think we should start seeing other people": Alien Bill and Marge realize they are incompatible.

Alien Bill regurgitates the sob story of what happened to his planet. Marge is sympathetic, but still wonders, "Why did you have to come here?"

"You have no idea how rare life is in those cold, countless miles of space," alien Bill somberly replies.

So the aliens invaded Earth because they were lonely and tired of space travel? And they'd gone so long without S-E-X they were willing to take their chances on a planet with un-breathable air (for them) so they could get some nooky? Talk about desperate...

Marge asks alien Bill, "Did you (pause) love your women before they died?"

"No", alien Bill states.

This romance novel is far out (rim shot).

Then alien Bill launches into a bonkers monolog about how when they took over human bodies, the aliens began experiencing human "emotions and desires" which was something "they hadn't foreseen." The longer alien Bill inhabited human Bill's body, the more alien Bill wanted to get in touch with his own feelings. And because there was no love on his home planet, alien Bill declares, "I want to know what love is!"

Marge is dumbfounded--I mean, the aliens were listening to Foreigner during their space voyage? EWW!

Anyway, Marge tells alien Bill to find another planet to invade; Earth is already taken. Without their female counter-parts, they "can't have children" and "your race will die out!"

Alien Bill retorts, "Eventually we'll have children with you."

 "What...kind...of...children?" Marge asks. 

"Our kind of children," alien Bill declares.

"Look dear! He has your eyes!": Alien Bill and Marge's first born?

Naturally, Marge is repulsed by the thought of giving birth to three-fingered hairy robot alien babies, but what can she do? The roads out of town are closed. The phone lines are always mysteriously busy.  And the aliens are taking over more and more men. Mother of Mercy, is this the end of humanity?

Not so fast! Marge finally finds someone who believes her: kindly Dr. Wayne (Ken Lynch). "We've got to destroy their ship!" Marge bleats. "Otherwise, they'll over run the Earth and we'll be baring their children!"

Dr. Wayne wonders how they'll round up a posse that isn't full of alien imposters. Then he has a brain wave: "I know where to get our men!" They'll gather up all the guys whose wives have recently given birth! The aliens couldn't have gotten to them yet!

So Dr. Wayne and what's left of Norrisville's human men get their guns and go out to kick some serious alien booty. One of the guy's brings his German Shepherds along, which proves to be a stroke of genius. See, Earth dogs know an alien when they smell one. When the human men quickly realize their bullets are of no use, the dogs simply pounce on the aliens, rip out their breathing tubes and--Presto!--no more aliens. What good boys!

Once the dogs have dispatched the enemy, the human men venture into the aliens' spaceship and find their buddies hooked up the coat rack/sound system described earlier. Kindly Dr. Wayne unhooks the men from their batteries and they resume consciousness. The aliens aren't so lucky. Their vital link for survival on Earth severed, the aliens start breathing oxygen and collapse en masse. They gasp, roll around and quickly die, turning into chunky goo along the way. 

"Paw Patrol": Invading aliens are no match for man's best friend.

Marge races to the aliens' hiding spot. There she runs into alien Bill, who is slowly dying. He laments that he was just learning to feel and love and enjoy life, but Marge could care less. She's reunited with Bill--the real Bill, the human Bill--and they embrace. The aliens call off their invasion and fly away. Yes, they're doomed to endure another long, lonely, cold journey out in space, but think of all the Frequent Flyer Miles they'll accumulate.

Unlike a lot of flicks profiled here, "I Married a Monster from Outer Space" was a hit with both audiences and critics (it ran on a double with "The Blob", a movie starring a guy named Steve McQueen). It's plot was direct and compact, not drowning in sub-plots, although the pace could get pokey at times. The F/X is good and sparingly used. The acting, especially from Gloria Talbot as the desperate Marge, is unusually effective. In other words, an all-around A-OK flick. So what's it doing here?

Because "I Married a Monster from Outer Space" is yet another example of the double standard in Sci-Fi when it comes to alien/human relations.

Simply put, when Earth men come upon alien females, the said femmes are almost always attractive young gals who dress like Miss America contestants and can't wait to marry and/or do the nasty with the human visitors. "The Queen of Outer Space", "Fire Maidens from Outer Space", "Cat Women on the Moon", "Forbidden Planet", "Barbarella", "Star Man" and "The Phantom Planet" are just a few examples of this. And don't forget Captain Kirk got more ass than a toilet seat on "Star Trek" or that nurse Christine Chapel had the hots for Mr. Spock (as did guest star Jill Ireland, the future Mrs. Charles Bronson).

However, whenever aliens come upon Earth females, the aliens are always ugly, hairy, creepy monsters and the women recoil at the thought of doing the deed with them--and their fellow Earth men aren't too happy about the idea, either.

"Bachelor in Paradise"?: "The Fire Maidens from Outer Space" are out-of -this-world in the looks department. Male aliens aren't so lucky.

And if the Earth gals and the aliens do have contact, it's usually because the aliens have forcibly impregnated them. 

 Consider the flick "Village of the Damned", where aliens impregnate the local ladies of child-bearing age. The result is super albino alien kids who have telepathic powers and plan to take over the world. In the movie "The Demon Seed", poor Julie Christie gets pregnant by her hubby's super computer--and experiences a climax that resembles a laser (Pink) Floyd Omni Max show. Then there's the TV movie "The Stranger Within". Starring TV's "I Dream of Jeannie"s Barbara Eden, it's another tale of a gal impregnated with an alien fetus. Soon the nasty little bugger is forcing Barb to drink tons of coffee, put salt on everything, turn the house into Ice Station Zebra and forget to do her house work. According to my calculations, the only alien/Earth woman who came together successfully as a couple are Mr. Spock's parents, Ambassador Sarek and Amanda Grayson.

Why the double standard? Why are female aliens always hot-to-trot and the male aliens ugly freaks?  I'm not suggesting human females would want to mate with ugly, hairy robot aliens. However, what if the male aliens were nice looking, had good personalities and were genuinely interested in commitment? I bet there'd tons of human gals who would give it a whirl. After all, if countless women are willing to humiliate themselves on "The Bachelor", "Love Island" and "Married at First Sight", how could hooking up with an alien be any worse?

And considering the male specimens on those above mentioned shows, hooking up with an alien might even be better.

Of course, I can't discuss aliens and human females close encounters without mentioning "Mars Needs Women" (1967). In this crack-pot classic, Tommy Kirk leads an alien unit down to Earth to rustle up some gals so they can repopulate Mars. Dop (Tommy's character) ends up falling for scientist Marjorie Bolen (Yvonne Craig, Bat Girl herself)--who won the Noble Prize for Medicine for her ground breaking work in "frozen surgery techniques." However, Tommy becomes repulsed at the idea of using his new cuddlemate as "a test case for artificial insemination!" and calls the whole mission off. Before he leaves for home, Dop tells Marjorie that, even though Mars dispensed with the word "love" a long, long time ago, he knows it's love that he feels for her.

"Meet the Parents": Mr. Spock's mom and dad share the love.

Awww, that's so sweet. I wonder if Dop watches Hallmark movies in his spare time.

OK, kiddies, what have we learned today?

We learned that space travel is really lonely and boring, so bring along plenty of magazines and cross word puzzles to distract you.

We learned that '50's women were so determined to get married, they'd marry an alien-infected man if it meant avoiding spinsterhood.

We learned that low-budget sci-fi can beat the pants off big-budget sci-fi, artistically, anyway.

And we learned that clean air is our best defense against an alien invasion.

So, until next time, lets do all we can to end pollution--and SAVE THE MOVIES, too.

"Screw fate. I'll tear down the stars for you."* Dop and Marjorie say goodbye.

* That quote is from Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston, in case you're wondering.

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