The Beast with a Million Eyes
|The Beast with a Million eyes|
Theatrical release poster
by Albert Kallis
|Produced by||David Kramarsky|
|Written by||Tom Filer|
|Music by||John Bickford|
|Edited by||Jack Killiferart|
San Mateo Productions
|Distributed by||American Releasing Corporation|
The Beast with a Million Eyes (aka The Unseen) is a science-fiction film about an alien able to see through the eyes of the many creatures he takes control of. It was produced and directed by David Kramarsky, although some sources say that it was co-directed by Lou Place and co-produced by Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff. The film was released in 1955 by American Releasing Corporation which later became American International Pictures.
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The isolated Kelley family struggle with their small farm in a bleak landscape. A mysterious plane crash happens nearby. Then wild and domesticated animals and finally their handyman turn on the family and attack. It turns out a space alien (the beast of the title) has taken over the minds of the lesser animals, working its way up to controlling humans as part of a plan to conquer the world. In the end, the family bond together, unite against the alien and their love conquers all.
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 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 library cues.
Studio publicist James H. Nicholson had come up with a title and ad treatment that had exhibitors signed on before seeing the finished film. When Sam Arkoff of ARC received The Beast with a Million Eyes he was unhappy that it did not even feature a beast, implicit in the title. Paul Blaisdell responsible for the special effects, was hired to create a space ship and alien for $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 two days at a studio in La Ciegna. 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 film unless everyone signed with the Guild. Roger Corman, who was producing, took over the film as director and replaced the cinematographer with Floyd Crosby; however Corman took no official credit. Another version of the story has Corman allocating directing duties to Dave Kramsarsky, his associate director on Five Guns West.
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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).
- McGee 1996, pp. 24–27.
- Harmetz, Aljean. "The dime-store way to make movies-and money." The New York Times, August 4, 1974, p. 202.
- Lentz 1983, pp. 608, 629.
- Smith 2014, pp. 18–19.
- "Movieland events; Gig Young obtains 'A Man in Eritrea'." Los Angeles Times, April 6, 1955, p. B6.
- Smith 2009, p. 21.
- The Beast with a Million Eyes at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Maltin, Leonard. "Leonard Maltin Movie Review." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 23, 2015.
- Lentz, Harris M. III. Science Fiction, Horror & Fantasy Film and Television Credits, Vol. 1. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1983. ISBN 978-0-7864-0952-5.
- McGee, Mark. Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1996. ISBN 978-0-7864-0137-6.
- Smith, Gary A. American International Pictures Video Guide. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7864-3309-4.
- Smith, Gary A. American International Pictures: The Golden Years. Albany, Georgia: Bear Manor Media, 2014. ISBN 978-1-5939-3750-8.