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TV REVIEW

UPN's New Movie Series Creates a Married 'Monster'

October 08, 1998|DAVID KRONKE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

To inaugurate its new series of Thursday night movies, UPN proudly presents a remake of the 1958 potboiler "I Married a Monster From Outer Space." Those behind UPN's only slightly less ludicrously titled version, "I Married a Monster," have thrown in a few cleverly subtle touches, but the result lacks both the requisite pulse-pounding moments and the campy laughs it seeks.

Oh, well, at least it's not set in the Lincoln White House.

"I Married a Monster" stars Richard Burgi and Susan Walters as Nick and Kelly, insipid small-town sweethearts on the eve of their wedding when something bizarre involving low-budget lighting effects happens to Nick. On his wedding day, he's not himself--but who is?--and Kelly's a little slow on the uptake regarding his peculiar transformation.

Unfortunately, Kelly seems to be the brightest bulb in this backwater light bank, for no one in town assigns credibility to her concerns. Soon, though, the town seems to have been transformed into a bunch of Stepford husbands, and the womenfolk are mighty concerned because . . . the men have all quit drinking alcohol!

Director Nancy Malone's most inspired touch here is in how the casting informs the film's visual style. Your typical Hollywood casting director throwing together something like this would likely hire generic pretty faces like Rob Estes and Alyssa Milano. With his receding hairline and lived-in face, Burgi is hardly the guy you'd expect to play a newlywed in a movie like this today, and Walters has been made up in a fashion that thoroughly blands-out her looks.

In other words, they're dead ringers for stars of a real '50s hack

job, and Burgi adds to the fun with a battery of quirkily deadpan facial

tics. The film also uses a number of authentically klutzy dissolves and irises in transitions from scene to scene, and David Shire's score plays along as well.

Alas, there's little else in the inventiveness department. For such a silly premise and title, "I Married a Monster" is almost criminally drab.

Future UPN movies include "30 Years to Life," starring Robert Hays in a film UPN dares to compare to "Big"; "Inferno," a disaster flick about a killer heat wave; and a thing called "Riddler's Moon," in which Kate Mulgrew beams down to Earth long enough to rescue a farm with the assistance of mysterious visions experienced by her disabled son.

Say what you will, but they, too, avoid the Civil War era.

*

"I Married a Monster" airs tonight at 8 on UPN. The network has rated it TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children).

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