The Eye Creatures
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|The Eye Creatures|
VHS cover for the film
|Directed by||Larry Buchanan|
|Produced by||Larry Buchanan|
Paul W. Fairman|
Robert J. Gurney Jr.
|Cinematography||Ralph K. Johnson|
|Edited by||S. F. Brownrigg|
|Distributed by||American International Television|
|Budget||$40,000 or less than $25,000|
The Eye Creatures (a.k.a. Attack of the The Eye Creatures) is a 1965 American made-for-TV science fiction/horror film about an unnamed countryside that is invaded by a flying saucer and its silent, shambling alien occupants.
The Eye Creatures, an Azalea Pictures film, was directed by B-movie director/producer/auteur Larry Buchanan and starred John Ashley. The screenplay was developed by uncredited writers Robert J. Gurney Jr. and Al Martin from the short story "The Cosmic Frame" by Paul W. Fairman (also uncredited). The film was a color remake of the 1957 black and white American International Pictures film Invasion of the Saucer Men, intended to fill out a package of AIP films released to television.
A military briefing film shows a hovering flying saucer resembling a domed yo-yo as the narrator (Peter Graves) describes how the military's "Project Visitor" has been tracking it and anticipates it will land in the central United States. After the briefing, Lt. Robertson reports to the base near the expected target where he berates his subordinates for their habit of using the monitoring equipment to spy on teenagers making out in the woods. One of the teens sees an object land nearby and tells his friends at a local bar, including Stan Kenyon. Stan and his girlfriend Susan Rogers later accidentally hit one of the multi-eyed, lumpy greyish-white aliens from the ship with his car, so they drive off to call the police. Out in the woods, they are forced to use the phone of a grumpy local codger who resents the "smoochers" who use his property as a lovers' lane, frequently threatening them with a shotgun.
Meanwhile, one of two drunken drifters new in town comes across the dead creature and decides to put it on exhibition as part of his latest get-rich-quick scheme. When he returns to the site after excitedly rushing home to tell his buddy Mike, other aliens arrive, scaring him and causing a deadly heart attack. When the police finally investigate, they assume that Stan has run over the drifter and arrest the young man, refusing to believe his crazy story.
Having overheard the bar conversation about the UFO, Lt. Robertson reports to his commander, who reluctantly authorizes a cordon around the saucer. They eventually accidentally blow up the spaceship and congratulate themselves for their effective defense, not realizing that the creatures were not in their craft and are still roaming the woods.
Easily escaping from the police, Stan and Susan meet up with the dead drifter's friend Mike and the three of them attempt to prove the alien danger to the community. Mike is cornered and attacked by the angry creatures, but Stan and Susan manage to flee and accidentally discover the monsters explode when exposed to bright light. Unfortunately, after the autopsy shows that the victim earlier died from an alcohol-induced heart attack and that Stan had not killed him, the police want nothing more to do with him and refuse to help. The teenagers then gather their friends together and drive out to the clearing where they left Mike. Surrounding the aliens with their cars, the teens use their headlights to evaporate the remaining creatures. Mike survives his attack, and Stan and Susan resume their interrupted plans to elope.
Buchanan had made Free, White and 21 (1963), which was distributed by AIP. They hired the director to make a series of low-budget color remakes of old AIP films, of which this was the first. Buchanan later called them his "wretched remakes".
The movie was shot in 16mm over several weeks in Dallas, on a budget of $40,000 (or less than $25,000). Ashley was imported from Hollywood, but the rest of the cast were locals. Ashley has stated that his salary took up more than half the budget.
Most of the film was shot just outside Dallas at Cielo, a ranch owned by wealthy businessman Gordon McLendon. Ashley was the only professional actor, with the rest of the cast coming from Dallas theater. Ashley claimed that the film ranks "with some of the worst all-time horror films ever made... the monster looked like something out of the Michelin tire ad", but said it was a professional operation and that Buchanan treated him very well.
Filming took two weeks. "Buchanan was a nice guy and it was a real 'at ease' pace," said Ashley. "We just kind of worked until we felt like, 'Okay, that's enough.' It was a very small crew and quite well organized - Buchanan had it together."
The film's title screen contained a notable error. In keeping with a frequent practice of B-movie re-release retitling, the phrase "Attack of the" was superimposed on top of the original title, which already included "the", producing the redundant title Attack of the The Eye Creatures.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Movie-mocking television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured the oddly-titled print of the film in a 1992 season 4 episode. In the MST3K version, Joel riffs Rick Astley's song "Never Gonna Give You Up". Years later, the snippet surfaced on YouTube as "The first Rickroll". In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring the film, Joel Robinson sarcastically suggested that "some eye creatures […] are born with tight acrylic wool-blend turtleneck sweaters from Chess King." Crow T. Robot also mocked, "If you're ever in a fight with an eye creature, keep in mind that his head is simply draped casually over his shoulders and should be no trouble to knock off. […] Get ready to give chase to an injured eye creature; as you can see, he's wearing his Jack Purcell athletic shoes!" Crow even pointed out a shot featuring a common monster-movie goof: "The eye creatures […] were also unfortunate enough to have evolved with heavy-duty zippers running up their backs." Their riffing produced the fan-favorite phrase "They just didn't care," which was later applied to other movies viewed on the show.
- Goodsell, Greg, "The Weird and Wacky World of Larry Buchanan", Filmfax, No. 38 April/May 1993 p 64
- Kelley, B. (1985, Mar 17). ASHLEY FINALLY MAKES THE TEAM. Sun Sentinel Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/389734195?accountid=13902
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p237-238
- Tom Weaver, "Interview with John Ashley", Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup, McFarland 1988 p 40
- Weaver p 40
- *Palmer, Randy (1997). Paul Blaisdell, Monster Maker. McFarland & Company. p. 244. ISBN 9780786440993. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
"The first of four remakes was The Eye Creatures, sometimes known as Attack of the Eye Creatures, with "the" appearing twice in the title.
- Zontar the Thing from Venus/The Eye Creatures DVD, 2005, UPC 014381233025
- Mystery Science Theater 3000, episode #418 (Attack of the Eye Creatures)
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