Beast with a Million Eyes, The

Tagged: Film

Film (1955; vt The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes!). San Mateo Productions/American Releasing Corporation. Executive producers: James H Nicholson and Samuel Z Arkoff. Produced by David Kramarsky. Written by Tom Filer. Directed by Kramarsky and Roger Corman (uncredited). Cast includes Paul Birch, Dona Cole, Chester Conklin, Dick Sargent (credited as Richard Sargent), Leonard Tarver and Lorna Thayer. Special effects: Paul Blaisdell. 78 minutes, often cut to 75 minutes. Black and white.

In a remote area of California, Allan Kelley (Birch) struggles to keep his date farm afloat and deal with family problems. His wife Carol (Thayer) hates their isolation and takes out her frustration on daughter Sandra (Cole). Their handyman Carl (Tarver) is mentally challenged. One bright spot in their lives is Deputy Larry Brewster (Sargent), Sandra's boyfriend. The only other neighbour is elderly Ben Webber (Conklin), a former gold prospector. An aeroplane apparently crashes nearby; when a search is made, no wreckage is found. Animals unaccountably go berserk and attack everybody they can; soon Carl does the same. Allan finally discovers that the crashed vehicle was an alien Spaceship now hidden in a cave close by: the Alien is controlling the minds of the animals and of weak-willed Carl. The family and Brewster unite their minds in a show of love which forces the alien to flee into the mind of a snake that is promptly carried away by a predatory hawk.

The title of this early, minimal-budget Roger Corman effort refers to the alien's ability to see through the eyes of the beings it controls. Executive producer Arkoff insisted on a visible Monster, which Corman did not originally plan. Paul Blaisdell did his best to create the spacecraft and alien with just a few dollars; the results are unconvincing. This may be the first film to deal with animals turning against humanity, prefiguring the revenge-of-nature subgenre of US sf Cinema from The Birds (1963) onward. [GSt]

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