DirectorDavid Kramarsky, Lou Place, Roger Corman (uncredited) WriterTom Filer (screenplay) Release date1955 (1955) DirectorsRoger Corman, David Kramarsky GenresHorror, Science Fiction, Black-and-white, Natural horror film CastPaul Birch (Allan Kelley), Lorna Thayer (Carol Kelley), Dona Cole (Sandra Kelley), Dick Sargent (Deputy Larry Brewster), Chester Conklin (Ben Webber), Leonard Tarver (Carl) Similar moviesInvasion of the Saucer Men, The Alien Facto, I Married a Monster from Outer Space, Critters 4, Xtro
The film's storyline concerns a space alien that is able to see through the eyes of a large array of Earth life that it can also mentally control, part of its plan to conquer the Earth.
The beast with a million eyes
The isolated Kelley family struggle with their small "date ranch" located in an isolated, bleak desert landscape well away from civilization. After a mysterious object crashes nearby, both wild and domesticated animals, and finally the farm's handyman, turn on the family, attacking them. It turns out that a space alien ("the beast" of the title) has taken over the minds of the area's lesser animals and is working its way up to controlling humans as part of a plan to conquer the Earth. In the end the family bond together and unite, fighting against the alien menace to thwart its plan of conquest.
The Beast with a Million Eyes was the third of a three-picture deal Roger Corman had with the American Releasing Company following The Fast and the Furious (1955) and Five Guns West (1955). Only $29,000 remained to make the film for Pacemaker Productions. The tiny budget meant music in The Beast with a Million Eyes, credited to "John Bickford", is actually a collection of public-domain record library cues by classical composers Richard Wagner, Dimitri Shostakovich, Giuseppe Verdi, Sergei Prokofiev, and others, used to defray the cost of an original score or copyrighted cues.
Studio publicist James H. Nicholson had come up with a title and ad treatment that had film exhibitors signed on before seeing the finished film. When Samuel Z. Arkoff of ARC received The Beast with a Million Eyes he was unhappy that it did not even feature "the beast" that was implicit in the title. Paul Blaisdell, responsible for the film's special effects, was hired to create a three-foot-tall spaceship (with "beast" alien) for a meager $200. Notably, the Art Director was Albert S. Ruddy, who would later win two "Best Picture" Academy Awards for The Godfather (1972) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).
Filming took place in Indio and the Coachella Valley, California. Corman shot 48 pages of interiors in just two days at a studio on La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles. The Beast with a Million Eyes was a non-union film originally titled The Unseen, with Lou Place set to direct. After one day's filming, the union threatened to shut down the production unless everyone signed with the Guild. Roger Corman, who was producing, took over the film's directing chores and replaced the cinematographer with Floyd Crosby; however Corman took no official screen credit. Another version of this story has Corman allocating directing duties to Dave Kramarsky, his associate director on Five Guns West.
Film historian Leonard Maltin called The Beast with a Million Eyes, "Imaginative though poorly executed sci-fi melodrama with desert setting; a group of people is forced to confront an alien that can control an unlimited number of animals, hence the title." He further described the film as, "(an) early Roger Corman production (that) features Paul Blaisdell's first movie monster." In 2007 Metro-Goldwyn Mayer distributed The Beast with a Million Eyes as part of its Midnight Movies catalog on a double-feature DVD shared with The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955).