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The Beast with a Million Eyes

USA 1955
produced by
David Kramarsky, Roger Corman (executive) for San Mateo Productions, Palo Alto Productions/American Releasing Corporation
directed by David Kramarsky, Lou Place (uncredited), Roger Corman (uncredited)
starring Paul Birch, Lorna Thayer, Dona Cole, Dick Sargent, Leonard Tarver, Bruce Whitmore (voice), Chester Conklin
written by Tom Filer, music by John Bickford, special effects by Paul Blaisdell

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, rural USA: The Kelley family has seen better days, father Allan (Paul Birch) pretty much sees himself as a failure for not making any money off his farm anymore, mother Carol (Lorna Thayer) sees farm life more and more as her personal prison, and daughter Sandy (Dona Cole) just feels generally misunderstood. And then there's the creepy farmhand, Carl (Leonard Tarver), a mentally challenged mute who Allan insists on keeping, who doesn't sit well with either Carol or Sandy.

... and then something passes over their heads that breaks all the windows and glasses and china of their home by vibration - which seems to be the last straw for Carol, who lets her frustration out, towards Allan, Sandy and Carl. But what nobody knows, that something was actually an UFO that has landed nearby and that houses an extraterrestrial intelligence able to control animals and even people who are weak of mind. So eventually, the Kelley's are attacked by birds, a neighbour (silent movie slapstick comedian Chester Conklin) is killed by his own cow, and Carol eventually has to kill the family dog in self defense. This flips a switch with Carol though, and seeing how the family sticks together makes her rediscover love for her husband and daughter. Meanwhile though, the alien intelligence has brought Carl under its command, and Carl soon abducts Sandy to bring it to the UFO for experimentation. But Allan intercepts Carl just in time to appeal to the human inside him, and Carl hands Sandy over to Allan before being killed by the alien intelligence - and when the intelligence realizes it's powerless against the love of the Kelleys, it just dies.

Dick Sargent, in a very early role, plays the deputy out to help the Kelleys and Sandy's love interest, but he only achieves very little.

 

Now this movie is a very early example of the typical marketing practices of the American Releasing Corporation, which was soon to become American International Pictures or AIP for short, back in the day: First a catchy title was made up and a sensationalist ad campaign complete with an exciting poster was launched, to then have someone develop a script and have it filmed on a low budget. In this case that someone was low budget legend in the making Roger Corman, who had a three picture deal with American Releasing Corporation (with the other two films being The Fast and the Furious and Five Guns West), and who basically didn't stand a chance to live up to the hype (and the poster) created with the money at hand. But that said, Tom Filer did a very good job delivering a decent script (apart from the somewhat sappy ending maybe) that's character-driven rather than just going through the motions of a creature feature. Also, the acting is very solid in this one, which is nevertheless let down by a budget that wouldn't allow for the effects work needed to make this a masterpiece. Still worth a look, and certainly one of the more intelligent creature features gracing the grindhouses of its time.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD