Despite its sci-fi trappings and absurdist title, I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE is one of the most paranoid psychosexual horror films of the 1950s. Alongside another Cold War exercise in terror, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, the 1958 film (originally intended to be the A-picture on a double feature), has more to do with the dark, subtle foreboding of film noir thrillers, with a twisted love triangle and awakening to a nightmarish topsy-turvy world.
The film opens with a handsome Bill (Tom Tryon) driving home from his bachelor party when he is suddenly abducted by a weird glowing extraterrestrial with a hideous visage. Strangely, he shows up for his wedding to Marge (Gloria Talbott), who begins to notice something rather odd about her new hubby.
Bill isn’t what he appears to be. Not only is he cold and distant to Marge, he prefers driving at night with the lights off! Bill, who loved dogs, can no longer tolerate the four-legged monstrosities. Is he an abhorrently repressed sexual deviant… or some THING else entirely? As Marge’s terror mounts, the audience is shown what it already suspects: a sudden lightning flash illuminates the true face of Bill — a hideous alien. What’s worse, Marge soon realizes key people in the small town have been taken over.
When Marge confronts Bill, demanding to know the truth, he confirms her darkest fears in a dull, monotone voice devoid of any emotion: the aliens are here for one reason — they’re a dying race and they want to impregnate Earth women to foster a new breed of hybrids.
Finally the Sheriff is convinced of the abhorrent menace from beyond the stars, and an assault is staged on the extraterrestrial craft led by a German shepherd. See — there’s a darn good reason these ETs hate dogs, and vice versa! Meanwhile, Marge has been hauled by alien Bill to the ship, where she finds the original Bill and other human males strung up like meat, their life force-fed to their alien doppelgangers.
Pistols and shotguns make short work of the alien interlopers, turning them to bubbling goo. Marge is reunited with human Bill — the man she actually didn’t marry.
Marge’s plight is presented entirely through her point-of-view — something unique for sci-fi flicks of the 1950s. Usually the main female character is reduced to a hapless damsel in distress, but not Marge, who becomes a proto-feminist in order to save the world. She’s a new breed of woman — the tough-talking, two-fisted gal who reemerged in such genre classics HALLOWEEN and ALIEN twenty years later.
Gloria Talbott — most notably seen in DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL and THE CYCLOPS — delivers a compelling emotional performance as the sexually assaulted Marge, who is forced to deliver a star-born terror. Striking leading man Tom Tryon doesn’t have a lot to depth to offer, but then he’s stuck playing the coldly robotic titular monster. After a big screen buildup in Otto Preminger’s THE CARDINAL, Tryon turned from thesping to writing, penning the best-selling horror novel THE OTHER.
Despite its lurid confessional title, I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE delivers the goods in a brisk, compelling manner that transcends the cheapness of production. Whether as an allegory for the “Red Menace,” the individual’s loss of identity in a “braver” new world, or a noir-ish mystery, I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE is a classic of 1950s paranoia and interstellar lust.