I Married a Monster From Outer Space
All this fuss over Cabbage Patch Kids??
Holy cats, it’s Commander USA! And a chick who married a monster from outer space! Thus, this is a hybrid review because it is a Horror Host review! Not only are we watching I Married a Monster From Outer Space, a movie far far better than its ridiculous title suggests, but we’re watching it with the one and only Commander USA! Yes, that’s right, someone taped this episode of Commander USA’s Groovy Movies and now I possess a copy thanks to a world where people trade tapes of horror hosts like baseball cards. I do not own this film on the recent remastered DVD super mega collectors BluRay HD 3D edition, so don’t expect the film screencaps to look like DVD screenshots. In fact, don’t expect them to look pretty good at all. If you don’t like it, break out your own BluRay Commander USA rips. You can still tell what is going on with the screencaps and that is what counts.
In the grand tradition of TarsTarkas.NET over explaining everything, we’ll over-explain the film, but especially over-explain the Commander USA bumpers, because those are the flavor of this version. Before that, we’re going to do some analysis of I Married a Monster From Outer Space, because it just flows better that way, and lets the Commander USA parts stand on their own. Everyone should love Commander USA like he is their own father. In fact, this DNA test I have says Commander USA is your father. So you should pay attention to what goes on here.
Our skits have something to do with the film, huzzah!
Commander USA’s Groovy Movies premiered on January 5, 1985, and ran through 1989. Jim Hendricks is Commander USA (Soaring super hero! Legion of Decency – Retired) and the Commander lead us through a whole host of films over the years. Usually, wacky characters would wander in, tangentially related to the film. We also got regular features of Commander USA cooking some ridiculous snack or chatting with Lefty, who is a face drawn with cigar ash on Commander USA’s right hand. Commander USA would also read mail from his viewers, usually children, as well as crack jokes and complain about his ex-wife. It was all good fun. Commander USA details will be in BLUE FONT.
I Married a Monster From Outer Space is a thinking man’s scifi movie. Sure, there are monsters and possessions and people being blasted and people turning into goo, but it all means something. It is bigger than the box it is put in. The video box! Ha! Seriously, there are some underlying themes at work, some things that aren’t easily said in a straight-forward film, especially in the 1950s.
I’ll try to cover some of those themes. This is the type of film you could write a long dissertation about, and still not cover 1/10th of what was going on. Buried just beneath the surface in plain sight are so many things. Science Fiction has a long history of being used to make statements that go above the heads of whatever censors are causing problems at the time, both before this and afterwards (this concept was probably best used on The Twilight Zone and on Star Trek), and I Married a Monster From Outer Space is a wonderful addition to that history.
I Married a Monster From Outer Space is a gauntlet commentary of manhood. Rather, of those that don’t have the traditional stoic father manly 1950s manhood. There are issues of impotency and homosexuality, and a constant theme of marriage is death. The aliens are not just aliens from Earth, but aliens from that 1950s masculinity. The classic Father Knows Best archetypes, patriarchs of the family and emblems of unequaled respect. The father wears a shirt and tie at all hours, mom stays home, the children aren’t unruly, and no problems ever exist. But that reality was just as fictional in the 1950s as it is now.
We come from a planet that’s evolved beyond sharp images!
Most of the male characters of I Married a Monster From Outer Space treat marriage as equal to death. This would later gain more traction with darker comedies like Married With Children, but in the 1950s it seemed more fresher, a staple not done to death. From the opening sequence in the bar where the impending marriage of Bill is treated as a death sentence from his fellow married buddies, there is little joy in the film at all with regards to spouses, especially by the characters who are replaced by aliens. It is especially interesting that one of the few instanced of actual happiness – the birth of a child – is what exposes the real men from the impostors.
The women are contrasted as more emotional, Marge so blinded by love for her man she doesn’t immediately recognize that he’s acting off. On the wedding day itself, when the alien kidnapped Bill is late to his own nuptials. Marge is there, panicking, enduring the snipes of her mother and the useless bumbling of Bill’s friends, who got far drunker than good ol’ Bill ever did but managed to show up hours before Bill does. Bill arrives as the imposter Bill, slightly off and seemingly confused. Marge doesn’t even notice, relieved that he showed, young love blinding her to the danger brewing.
The best descriptive scene in the film for the aliens is when the alien is gazing longingly at the child’s doll in the store window. He then murders a human woman who witnesses him. The longing to save their species, the loss of what they can’t have and what the humans they are among seemingly hold over their heads.
The aliens and their emotionless ways, their killing of those who get in their way, threaten them, or who are defenseless animals (who can detect the aliens and attack) contrasts with what happens to their human hosts. The aliens begin to display enhanced versions of some of the feelings of their human hosts. Thus they act even more bizarre, instead of stoic, they become almost emotionally disturbed. Enhanced versions of emotions, which makes them stand out more as they have no real experience in quelling them and covering as humans. Fake Bill develops feelings for Marge. Fake Sam becomes almost a hedonist. The aliens’ inability to procreate is their entire reason for coming to Earth, to save their species. But they’re losing their own alienness in order to save what they were. The aliens are becoming aliens to themselves, as human emotions and failed reproductive attempts swirl in their heads.
It doesn’t matter, because the Earthlings want their humans back, want their men back. Marge wants her husband back, the husband the aliens took from her, the married life with a husband and kids in the suburbs she was robbed of. She’s not about to put up with an alien doppelganger no matter what feelings he may or may not be developing for her. It’s not her Bill.
The humans counter by gathering up men who have produced children, the doctor realizing this is the key fact distinguishing friend from foe. Together, these dads assault the alien ship. The scenes where the real men take down the aliens is graphic and brutal. Real men who fathered babies take down the fake men who can’t reproduce, hack it as 1950s men, or even have sex properly. This version of masculinity destroying the unmasculine. Even more odd, the humans would have failed, except when dogs are released and the aliens can’t deal with them. Man’s best friend saves real men. Lassie’s greatest legacy. Soon the real men are rescued and restored, and will soon get back to making human babies with their wives, assuming none of those wives die young from constantly being inseminated by radiated alien sperm.
Help! The Last Dragon’s here, and he’s got the glow!
There is an extra layer of confusion and identity crisis, though that’s more on my end. Many of the characters look similar, complete to the same style of dress and hair color. Add that the film is black and white and it becomes hard to distinguish which bland side character is which at times. Luckily there is enough flavor
Director Gene Fowler Jr. also directed I Was a Teenage Werewolf, was an editor on the classic Skatetown, U.S.A. and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (which got him an Oscar nomination) among many other films. He won an Emmy for editing on The Blue Knight TV show, which I think was about Smurf Batman.
Wait a minute…Lefty is his right hand!