Summer at the Drive-In Extra – The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955)

The Beast with a Million Eyes (June 15, 1955)

Cast:        Paul Birch as Allan Kelley
                Lorna Thayer as Carol Kelley
                Dona Cole as Sandra Kelley
                Leonard Tarver as Carl

Written by Tom Filler
Directed by David Kramarsky, Lou Place & Roger Corman

Plot: A dysfunctional family living in the California desert finds their fragile existence torn apart courtesy of an unseen alien.

Richard’s Review: If there was ever a movie that needed a little more money, it’s The Beast with a Million Eyes. The trailer makes it sounds awesome but the plot never really gets started. Everything is essentially unseen, thanks to a non-existent budget. The cast doesn’t really have the acting chops to make the weak story interesting and we don’t even get a good monster to make it all worth the journey. I can only imagine how everyone at the drive-in would have fallen asleep during this one. This is my third viewing and I don’t foresee a forth anytime soon. And no, I really can’t recommend it.

Karla’s Thoughts: I didn’t care for this one at all. The plot is ridiculous and the ending makes no sense at all. Did they think the beast to death? Love it to death? And just how did Carl die? It was all so muddled and the bad dialogue didn’t make sense either. The mom is just horrible at the beginning, so her redemption is hard to take towards the end. This is my second time watching it and I will not give it a third try.

Trivia:

  • The film is probably more remembered for its producers than the stars. The legendary Samuel Z. Arkoff, James B. Nicholson and Roger Corman were uncredited as producers for the film. The Beast with a Million Eyes was officially produced by David Kramarksy, who was also the director until Corman took over after being unsatisfied with how it was progressing. Unfortunately, with a budget of less than $30,000, there wasn’t much left for special effects or music.
  • Paul Blaisdell was paid $200 for the small spaceship but, with no money left for a beast, we were left with an image from the poster seen briefly on screen.  
  • Writer Tom Filer only wrote one other film, The Space Children in 1958. He was more prolific as a novelist.  
  • While Paul Birch is best remembered for being a character actor on television, he did star in several genre –related films, including The War of the Worlds (1953), Day the World Ended (1955), Not of This Earth (1957) and Queen of Outer Space (1958). He died in 1969 at the young age of 57 lymphosarcorma.
  • Lorna Thayer’s only other genre appearances came in The Andromeda Strain in 1971 as “Woman (uncredited)” and as a waitress in The Aliens are Coming (1980).
  • Dona Cole made her film debut in 1955 in The Long Gray Line before starring in The Beast with a Million Eyes. She only had one more appearance, in the TV series The Bob Cummings Show, before quietly retiring from Hollywood.
  • This was the only film appearance for Leonard Tarver.
  • Dick Sargeant, better known as the second Darrin Stephens on Bewitched, appears as Deputy Larry Brewster.
  • Chester Conklin’s film career dated back to the silent era of 1913 and included appearances alongside Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields and The Three Stooges. He only starred in four more films, following his appearance here as Ben Webber, before retiring in 1966.
  • London the dog, who played Duke, also starred in The Littlest Hobo film in 1958 and subsequent television series that started in 1963 and ran for 48 episodes.
  • Bruce Whitmore provided the voice of The Beast, his one and only film credit.  

Availability: Available on DVD as part of the MGM Midnite Movies series with The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955) and on Blu-ray from Ronin Flix.

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