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Friday, February 13, 2009

I Married a Monster From Outer Space

Perhaps one of the more unfortunate titles for a 50s sci-fi movie, I Married A Monster From Outer Space (IMMOS) is actually a much better film than its title suggests. Produced by Paramount's B division, IMMOS ran as the second feature to the much more memorable The Blob. Being upstaged by that A-feature film, and perhaps its own silly title, may be why IMMOS is little known beyond the ranks of 50s sci-fi fans. This obscurity is undeserved, however. IMMOS is rather well done for a low budget film. It fits squarely in the alien takeover sub-genre. The first human to be taken over is a young man about to be married the next day -- hence the title. He is but the first of a wave of invaders seeking to make Earth their new home.

Quick Plot Synopsis
A group of young men are holding a bachelor party Bill at Max's bar. Amid the usual faux laments about marriage is much drinking. When Bill is driving home, he stops, thinking he sees a man lying in the road. An alien confronts him. A mysterious cloud engulfs him. Bill is almost late, but the wedding goes as planned. Only a short while later, however, Marge can tell Bill is not the man she fell in love with. He acts odd and clueless. Dogs snarl at him now. She tries to tell people, but they don't take her seriously. Others in town are being taken over too: a couple of policemen, the police chief, and Bill drinking buddy Sam. Marge follows Bill one night, to the woods. There, she sees the alien leave Bill's shell and enter the ship. Eventually, Dr. Wayne believes her. He has a plan. Marge has gone home, where Bill is waiting. She's at his mercy, but Bill has softened. He tells her the truth. The sun was dying back in the Andromeda constellation. They had to build ships and leave. Before they could evacuate, all of their females had died. Since then, they've roamed space looking for habitable planets. They planned to breed with earth women to save their species. Meanwhile, the doctor has rounded up unassimilated young men from the maternity ward. With his virile posse, they attack the ship. Bullet holes in the aliens heal instantly. An attack dog, however, rips one of their "veins", killing the alien. Another dies the same way. The men go inside the ship to find the human bodies of the abductees hanging from wires, hooked up to transmitters. The possessed men try a counter attack on the ship, but when the wires are pulled from the transmitters, they double over and die -- turning into gelatinous suds. The possessed police chief radios the fleet that Earth is no good. They're onto them. He turns into suds. Marge confronts possessed Bill in the woods. He says he's sorry, that he was starting to learn love. His wire is pulled. He dies and turns into suds. All the "real" men emerge from the ship just before it explodes. Everyone is restored. The fleet departs. The End.

Why is this movie fun?
IMMOS is a nice twist on the alien-abuction trope. There is a bit of the tension of Invasion of the Body Snatchers ('56). The story is told from Marge's point of view. The interplay between Marge (the vulnerable) and possessed-Bill is interesting, and rather well done. The special effects, while spare, are adequate to the task.

Cold War Angle
The corruption of local authority figures was a common anxiety in the Cold War climate. What if the police and town leaders became commies? Who would protect the vulnerable citizen then? This was the private angst of the period.

More Abduction -- IMMOS continues the theme of aliens taking over the bodies of humans. They weren't outright replacements as in Invasion of the Body Snatchers ('56) They were copies, as in It Came From Outer Space ('53. The aliens create duplicates with the real humans hidden away. As in several alien take-over stories, the aliens take over key authority figures in town.

Real Men -- The alien-men do not prove to be "potent." They marry earth women, but sire no children as they planned. Dr. Walsh uses this as the litmus test for whether a man is human or alien. He recruits his posse from the maternity ward. By their fruit ye shall know them. Real men become fathers.

They're After Our Women -- The oft implied theme of many B sci-fi movies (especially their posters) turns out to really be the case in IMMOS. The aliens from Andromeda have no females. They planned to take on humanoid bodies of men in hopes that they could produce offspring, which they assumed would be Andromedans. Why this would be so, with a human mother and simulated human father, is not covered. In a twist of poetic justice, the alien-men turn out to be impotent.

The Power of Love -- All the other alien-men follow the customary stoic pattern. The Andromedans did not feel love. Alien-Bill, however, feels the stirrings of emotion for nice young Marge. He's conflicted over the whole invasion idea. Love had begun to conquer the aliens. As with many other alien-abduction stories, it is love, or emotion, which is the essence of humanity.

Bottom line? Don't let the silly title throw you. IMMOS is worth watching as an above average B sci-fi movie.


Mike Scott said...

As he did with the Martian in "War of the Worlds", Charlie Gemora created and wore the alien costume in "I Married a Monster From Outer Space". Though best known for his many gorilla portrayals in movies of the '30s, '40s and '50s, Gemora also worked on monster costumes for such '50s faves as "Curse of the Faceless Man" and "The Colossus of New York".

Nightowl said...

Hi Mike,
Thanks for the added info on the monster costumes. The three-fingered Martian on WotW was one of my faves. I didn't know Charlie had anything to do with the giant-robot costume in "Colossus of New York." It was an interesting sort of Bau Haus style of robot.

The aliens in IMMFOS were of the suitably creepy style. Ugly enough to elicit little sympathy for them when the dogs rip into them, etc.

Mike Scott said...

Quote: I didn't know Charlie had anything to do with the giant-robot costume in "Colossus of New York."

He probably worked on the headpiece. There are photos of him holding it with Ed Wolff partially in costume.

Quote: Ugly enough to elicit little sympathy for them when the dogs rip into them.

Funny story about the dogs. When they first met the alien they were so scared of it they hid behind their trainer. After playing with them to get them used to the costume, the dogs wouldn't attack convincingly and they had to hold the dog's head up to the alien's throat to make it look like they were biting at it.

galacticjourney said...

This really was a solid little film, and genuinely frightening. From a feminist perspective, it is a fine satire of the real world.

I reviewed it here.

Thank you for an excellent blog!

S Stubbs said...

This sci-fi film I think is quite effective in alien takeover from outer space.

Don't have any problem with it's title myself.

Thought the alien costumes were quite effective and had that eerie glow effect too! Key figures in township being duplicated. If anyone did have suspicions that alien invaders were here in their town who could they turn to without knowing just who's who?
I'd rate film out of 100% around 73% bracket!