In this episode of Pop Culture Beast’s Halloween Horror Picks, I talk about one of Roger Corman’s very first creature features – The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes (1955)!
Produced by Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff, The Beast with 1,000,000 eyes (aka The Beast with a Million Eyes) has a complicated director history that gives credit to David Kramarsky, but also features the uncredited directorial work of Corman and Lou Place. It stars Paul Birch, Lorna Thayer, Dona Cole, Leonard Tarver, Dick Sargent and Chester Conklin, and contains the first ever creature design by monster maker Paul Blaisdell.
When a telepathic alien creature lands in the craggy desert outside a desolate date farm, a farmer and his dysfunctional family must stave off attacks from mind-controlled birds and other animals while preventing a full scale planetary takeover. That sounds more exciting than the movie really is though, because the exceptionally low budget barely allows for even a few seconds of alien footage and the spaceship alternately looks like a coffee percolator or recycled shots of a sparking model from an old Buck Rogers serial. Most of the action happens off screen, although the characters are always quick to talk at length about their scary, near-miss scrapes with death, even if the movie isn’t budgeted highly enough to show any of it!
The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes reminds me of The Beast of Yucca Flats meets Birdemic, only it’s much better than both of those movies (That’s not saying much.) It suffers from a myriad of problems, ranging from the hammy acting and overwrought dialogue, to the laughably unbelievable special effects and shaky continuity, but it’s also a must see for fans of Roger Corman or 50’s creature features.
As best I can tell, The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes is the first nature-run-amok movie ever made, preceding Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds by 8 years. If you can think of an earlier example, leave it in the comment section either here or on YouTube as I’d love to see it!
The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes is a so-bad-it’s-good B-movie loaded with overacting and cheap special effects, but I love it. I’m surely being very kind, but I give it a rating of 5/10.
Look for new episodes of Pop Culture Beast’s Halloween Horror Picks every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in October! You can watch past episodes HERE.
Ryan Stockstad is a Los Angeles filmmaker with a passion for horror, documentary and experimental cinema. He has written articles for HC Magazine, Mostly Harmless Magazine and various blogs and websites. He has lectured on topics as diverse as low budget filmmaking, short story structure, and the influence of the Spanish Civil War on surrealist cinema. He hosts new episodes of Pop Culture Beast's Halloween Horror Picks every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in October.