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  Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes, The Eye, Right
Year: 1955
Director: David Kramarsky, Roger Corman
Stars: Paul Birch, Lorna Thayer, Dona Cole, Dick Sargent, Leonard Tarver, Bruce Whitmore, Chester Conklin
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: From across the gulf of space comes a new kind of terror, something unimaginable to the minds of mankind, an alien force that is determined to find a fresh world to dominate after it has all but exhausted its present one. It does so through its enormous psychic abilities, where it can take over the bodies of the animals and weaker men and women to attack anyone who could pose a threat, and Planet Earth is its latest port of call as it lands near this Californian date ranch to begin its assault. The failing ranch is owned by Allan Kelly (Paul Birch), who lives there with his wife Carol (Lorna Thayer) and daughter (Dona Cole) - what can they possibly do against invasion?

1955, alien invasion movie, so it had to be about the Soviet Union infecting American society with its cold, unfeeling Communism, right? Got it in one, as The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes was part of a wave of American films obsessed with the idea that the Cold War was an actual conflict and not an impasse where no one side was emerging the victor, even without a shot being fired. This was one of Roger Corman's efforts, a dirt cheap yarn made with the leftover budget of some of his other productions, though he was not the original director, one of his producers David Kranarsky was, his sole credit in that capacity as apparently he decided directing was not for him.

Or it was decided for him, perhaps. As it turned out, not even Corman's touch with spinning a little gold out of a very small amount of resources could do much here, as it was one of those tiny budgeters that its adherents describe as atmospheric when they really meant the money was so tight that the film was reduced to shooting lots of shots of the desert in lieu of an actual action. Sometimes that can inspire the right moviemakers to heights of creativity, but Corman was defeated by a script that was imitative when it was not downright undernourished when it came to conjuring up any solid ideas, at times more interested in the Kellys' domestic dramas than the aliens.

For example, mother Carol admits early on that she hates her daughter Sandra because she has all the opportunities in life that she will never have, stuck on this profitless date farm with a husband who sounds like he's doing a creditable Walter Brennan impersonation. This is to establish that the best method of conquering the monster is something Captain Kirk would know all about, the greatest thing about humanity, yes, the power of love! What did you think I was going to say? But before that the alien gets down to possessing the animals, including a blackbird that kamakazes Allan's truck, the family chickens (cue the crew throwing the creatures at the hapless mother from offscreen) and that pet Alsatian which prowls menacingly in a Killer Shrew-like fashion.

Though the biggest threat comes from a hulking handyman, who Sandra simply calls "Him" (Leonard Tarver) because he has lost the power of speech. He has a den next to the farmhouse plastered with pin-up photos, and likes to spy on the daughter when she goes swimming, so a triple threat: easily led, bit of a perv, and strong, just what you don't want getting taken over by a genocidal space monster. It will come as no surprise that he eventually stalks the land with Sandra collapsed in his arms, as was the case with many a leading lady in these sci-fi spectaculars, and indeed the non-spectaculars too, though when we did see the alien it appeared to be what has been described as a tea urn or a coffee percolator adorned with flashing lights. Or a flashlight. It's not even all that large, just sits in a small pit flashing as the voiceover does the work of making him a threat. Definitely not anybody's finest hour, especially not God's who makes a guest appearance as an American eagle come the grand finale; deus ex machina, too true.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Roger Corman  (1926 - )

Legendary American B-Movie producer and director who, from the fifties onwards, offered low budget thrills with economy and flair. Early films include It Conquered the World, Not of This Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters, A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors and X. The Intruder was a rare attempt at straightforward social comment.

Come the sixties, Corman found unexpected respectability when he adapted Edgar Allan Poe stories for the screen: House of Usher, Pit and The Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death and The Tomb of Ligeia among them, usually starring Vincent Price. He even tried his hand at counterculture films such as The Wild Angels, The Trip and Gas!, before turning to producing full time in the seventies.

Many notable talents have been given their break by Corman, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese, Monte Hellman, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, James Cameron and Peter Bogdanovich. Corman returned to directing in 1990 with the disappointing Frankenstein Unbound.

 
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