Friday, November 5, 2021

I Married a Monster from Outer Space


I Married a Monster from Outer Space
Gene Fowler Jr.

I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) is in many ways archetypal 1950s SF film. Insidious forces from outside are slowly infiltrating a small town by taking the place of the men in town one-by-one. We only have one person who knows what is happening and they struggle to get anyone to understand the danger the world is inr. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is probably the most well-known film that fall into this category, but there are plenty of others such as, The Brain Eaters (1958), and The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1963) as other examples. I Married of Monster from Outer Space has one notable difference from these films and that is a laser focus on the expectations from social roles as they were defined in the era

"These storms always make my sinuses hurt so badly."

The core of I Married a Monster from Outer Space centers around marriage and having children. We open on a table of men at a bar celebrating/commiserating the upcoming wedding of one of their own. They drunkenly complain about being married and/or not being married. The original intent of this scene is supposed to be humorous but the misery coming off of these men is palpable. They are trapped in a strict social code that demands they get married and produce offspring. To these men it spells the end of freedom. The first lines spoken are by two women at the bar, presumably older unmarried women or sex workers, complaining about the unavailability of these men and hoping that there might be one who will break social norms and go out with them.

Throughout the film there is an undeniable anxiety about pairing up and making babies. The men are at best resigned to it if not outright resistant, the women are terrified that they won’t be married or be able to produce children. The aliens mirror the women in that they are anxious to complete their task and figure out how to have children with human women but for them it is for survival rather than expectation. These characters exist in a universe where procreating is the only significant drive and the passing along of genes is all that is important. Several times in this film we see pets, which often serve as substitute children, killed by the aliens. To them there is only one valid kind of offspring and that is one derived from one man (or alien) and one woman squeezing out a kid.


The men of the town only swing into action once they realize that they are being replaced. The fact that the invaders are taking over a social situation that they themselves wanted little to do with never crosses their minds. The aliens succumb to the overwhelming violence of the townsfolk and a couple of substitute children in the shape of German Shepherds.

The twist in this SF narrative is subtle but interesting. Bill (Tom Tryon) (the alien version) begins to see Marge (Gloria Talbott) as not just someone to breed with but as a being with her own life. This is a view that even Marge seems to struggle with in her fervor to get married and be a mother. In the end we are left not with a question of when will the aliens return but rather will Marge see herself as an independent person or fall back into the socially acceptable role that she wanted so badly.

No comments:

Post a Comment