The Beast With A Million Eyes
DVD: The Beast With A Million Eyes (1955)
A huge carnivorous beast with one million eyes, a city in terror with the population fighting for their lives, an intergalactic spaceship that rivals anything in Independence Day, those are just a few of the things you WON’T see in Roger Corman’s 1955 zero budget sci-fi movie The Beast With A Million Eyes.
The 4th in a four picture deal Corman had with American Releasing Company (later to become American International Pictures), it was left with a meagure $29,000 budget due to overspending on the previous movies. The problems didn’t end there as Corman, unsatisfied with the way the movie was looking under director David Kramarsky, replaced him and shot 48 pages of interiors in 2 days. The movie was pre-sold with a poster that promised far more than would actually be shown on screen, so distributers (having finally viewed the completed product) insisted on more effects being added. This honour fell to Paul Blaisdell, who was hired to create a spaceship and a monster for the princely sum of $200. You can well imagine how THAT turned out!
Despite all of its shortcomings, The Beast With A Million Eyes remains a movie that I keep revisiting every few years. Once you realise that you are not going to see the aforementioned one million eyed beast, you can settle down into what basically is a character study of an estranged family isolated on the American plains. The conflict within the family is unintentionally hilarious though, especially Lorna Thayer’s over-dramatic performance in the early kitchen scenes. Star of the movie though has to be Leonard Traver as ‘Him’; a man who initially appears to be an insane peeping tom.
The $200 effects consist of a kettle trying to pass as a spaceship, while the beast inside is shown in extreme close-up so that you can only see one eye; the ‘one million eyes’ implied in the movies title is metaphorical and refers to the beasts ability to control the minds of animals (and weak minded humans) to see through their eyes. This usually entails the animals attacking everything in their path, of which the scene with chickens attacking Lorna Thayer is a particular highlight, even more so when reading the unintentional double entendre in the press release that accompanied this screener disc; “The scene consists of Lorna Thayer screaming while some unlucky cocks are shoved in her face”.
The Beast With A Million Eyes is definitely not a movie for everyone, even those of you who love 1950’s sci-fi may well struggle to make it through its 78 minute running time. However, I find it holds a certain charm despite all of its shortcomings and I’m sure that once again sometime in the future I’ll be chuckling at the boiling kettle spaceship and hoping that Lorna Thayer finally gets those cocks out of her face.
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Fabulous Films.