The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955) – Friday Night At The Home Drive-In

Poster for The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955)The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955) by #DavidKramarsky
some scenes by
#RogerCorman uncredited
w/
#PaulBirch #LornaThayer #DonaCole

An alien makes birds, cows and other animals attack a ranch family.

“Prepare for a close encounter of the terrifying kind!”

“An unspeakable horror… Destroying… Terrifying!”:

#Horror #SciFi #RIPRogerCorman
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955) starts with a bang, as a voice speaks to us, explaining his intentions. His words are quite striking and catch your attention right away…

“I need this world. From millions of light-years away I approach your planet. Soon my spaceship will lands on Earth. I need your world. I feed on fear, live on human hatred. I, a strong mind, without flesh or blood, want your world. First the unthinking, the birds of the air, the animals of the forest, then the weaker of men, shall all do my bidding. They shall be my ears, my eyes, until your world is mine. And because I see your most secret acts, you will know me as The Beast with a Million Eyes!”

Then we get some lively credits, accompanied by a lively theme song. Once the movie proper begins, we hear another voice. This one belonging to a human character; a man who owns a date ranch. He tells us that it’s been failing for 10 years, and his wife views him as a failure. It’s another great speech; hard boiled, downbeat, almost film noir-worthy, and it’s a really great way to start this film.

So The Beast with a Million Eyes has a great prologue, but what about the rest of the movie?

The opening scene is also brilliant, as the husband, Allan, tries to convince his wife, Carol,  that they must send their daughter away to school. Carol admits to hating her daughter (?!) and feeling jealous because she’s young and pretty and has her whole life ahead of her. Carol feels that she wasted those years. It’s more great hard boiled, film noir-worthy dialogue.

Carol also makes it known that she doesn’t like, or is afraid of, a man who works for them. He never goes anywhere on his day off. He just watches them.

We quickly see that the man has pictures of women on his wall, perhaps suggesting he’s creepy.

As if on cue, the daughter, Sandra, and her dog go to a swimming hole and she strips down to a bathing suit. The creepy man appears and watches her.

Sounds like a heartwarming family story. Where’s the science fiction?

Suddenly, a high-pitched sound causes a coffee pot to shatter in the wife’s hand. She screams in horror.

It also seems to be bothering the dog at the watering hole.

People throughout the community experience it, and seem to interpret the high-pitched noise as being caused by a plane going overhead. But then comes the weird part…

They say that ever since the strange noise occurred, animals have been behaving strangely – almost aggressively. A cow kicks over the bucket of milk repeatedly, foiling the farmer. Blackbirds seem to attack a truck. And what is going on with Sandra’s beloved dog?

Speaking of the dog…

The dog in The Beast with a Million Eyes was apparently played by legendary canine performer London. For those who don’t know, London was the star of the iconic Canadian TV series, The Littlest Hobo (1979–1985). And the earlier version of the show, The Littlest Hobo (1963–1965). And the original movie The Littlest Hobo (1958). Wait a minute…. how old was this dog? 

Apparently the owner/trainer of London may have owned several German Shepards named London over the years. They were all collectively known as London, I guess. Whatever the case, it’s still cool to know that London (or one version of London) was the dog in this movie.

Getting back to The Beast with a Million Eyes

The Beast with a Million Eyes gets a bad rating and is clearly considered to be a bad movie, but I found it quite charming. It feels very much like a drive-in movie; very low budget, etc. It also feels like a regional production, not something that was made in Hollywood.

Perhaps one example of “badness” is when the very friendly looking dog (played by London) tries to get into the house. Carol, for some reason, panics and fires a shotgun at him. I suppose they want us to see the dog as dangerous, like he’s gone crazy or something. But he really just looks like a friendly dog.

This is no criticism of London, who is a master performer (at least the version of him on Canadian TV in the ’70s and ’80s was).

Are you sure this is a sci-fi horror film?

The dog, and then the creepy man with no name, and then the daughter, Sandra, all go into the desert – drawn there by a quiet humming, or a feeling. As promised by the opening narration of the movie, some evil force is drawing the “weaker of men”, and the animals, and sending them back as a threat to the others.

There are really no special effects to speak of in The Beast with a Million Eyes. We never see aliens, or a spaceship. We hear a high-pitched hum. And we see animals supposedly acting crazy. Some chickens are perhaps tossed at Carol to make it look as if they’re attacking her. A cow moves toward a farmer, as if attacking him. It’s not very convincing, but it kind of works in a campy, silly sort of way.

So what’s the verdict for The Beast with a Million Eyes?

Like I said, I found The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955) to be charming and entertaining. It’s definitely #NotQuiteClassicCinema, and I would say an almost perfect balance between bad, almost good, and so-bad-it’s-good. It probably won’t work for everyone, but for those who are in tune to this kind of no budget drive-in insanity (and I think you know if you are), a movie like this can be sublime. So if you think you’d like it, you probably will. Give it a shot on your next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

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