AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Beast with a Million Eyes
Director: David Kramarsky (Dir)
Release Date:   Jan 1956
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 30 Nov 1955
Production Date:   began 22 Apr 1955
Duration (in mins):   71 or 77-78
Duration (in feet):   9
Duration (in reels):   6,945
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Cast:   Paul Birch (Allan Kelly)  
    Lorna Thayer (Carol Kelly)  
    Dona Cole (Sandy Kelly)  
    Richard Sargeant (Larry Brewster)  
    Leonard Tarver (Him, also known as Carl)  
    Bruce Whitmore    
    Chester Conklin (Ben Webber)  

Summary: At a date palm ranch in a remote desert area, the Kelly family struggles with their failing business and tries to maintain harmony despite their isolation. Father Allan is dismayed when his wife Carol, who is resentful of their circumstances, expresses jealousy that their teenaged daughter Sandy will leave for college soon. Sandy overhears Carol’s complaints and storms off to go swimming with her beloved German shepherd, Duke. Carol is left alone after Allan departs, and while she is doing housework, a loud, humming noise engulfs the house, causing the glasses and china to shatter as if there has been an earthquake. Believing the destruction to have been caused by a daredevil jet pilot, Carol telephones the sheriff, but admits that she did not actually see a plane. Meanwhile, Sandy has also witnessed the phenomenon and discovered that she is being watched by Him, the slow-witted, mute handyman who Allan insists live at the farm despite Carol and Sandy’s objections. Sandy reproaches Him, who, because of his disability, has never been able to reveal his name, then walks away. Allan, who is driving to visit farmer Ben Webber, is attacked by a flock of blackbirds, but reaches the farm unharmed. Ben asserts that several odd things have occurred since the aerial disturbance, including the moodiness of his normally complacent cow, Sarah. When Allan and Sandy arrive home, they find a distraught Carol cleaning up the remnants of her china. Deputy Larry Brewster arrives to investigate and states that no planes have been sighted in the area, then talks with Sandy, his sweetheart. Meanwhile, Duke has wandered into the desert and uncovered the source of the disturbance: an alien craft that has landed in a crater and is using telepathy to inhabit the minds of birds, then animals, then weak humans. By the time Duke returns home, Sandy, Larry and Allan have left, and the dog lunges at a surprised Carol. She attempts to shoot the suddenly vicious dog, but misses, and is forced to kill him with an ax. After they return, Sandy and Allan learn about the bizarre mishap, and a heartbroken Sandy lashes out at Carol. Allan comforts Carol, who confides that she feels some sort of force is trying to tear them apart. Allan, having felt it too, tells her that they must stick together. Sandy, who ran out of the house, then found herself wandering in the desert without knowing how she got there, runs into Him. Him does not respond at first, but when Sandy grabs his hand, Him comes out of his trance and goes home. After apologizing to Carol for her harsh words, Sandy tells her parents about her experience in the desert, and Allan realizes that her physical contact with Him broke the mysterious hold over them. The next day, Ben attempts to milk Sarah, but the alien has gained control of her and compels her to trample Ben to death. At the Kellys’, Carol is attacked by the chickens, but Allan succeeds in defeating them with a blowtorch. The family then works around the house, and Sandy tells Allan how happy she is that they are together. Allan then drops Him off at one of the groves before going to Ben’s farm. There, he finds Ben dead and realizes that the problem has grown more serious. Allan returns home just in time to shoot Sarah, who is attacking Carol. He phones Larry for help, but the line goes dead before he can speak to him. While Larry is asking the operator to trace the call, Allan, Carol and Sandy attempt to drive to town. They stop at the grove where Allan left Him, but because he has disappeared, Allan orders the women to continue to town while he searches for Him. Allan is again attacked by blackbirds, and is surprised when a crow appears to lead them away. After a fruitless search, Allan returns home, where he is upset to find Carol and Sandy. Carol explains that they were forced back by birds led by the crow, prompting Allan to speculate that their problems are being caused by an extraterrestrial force. While the family eats dinner, Larry succeeds in tracing Allan’s call and drives to the ranch. Him flags Larry down and knocks him unconscious before returning to the house and sabotaging Allan’s car. Larry regains consciousness and follows Him into the desert, where he spots the spaceship. The men struggle, after which Larry staggers off toward the house. Meanwhile, Sandy, hoping that Larry is on his way, has snuck out to find him, and Him grabs her to take her to the alien. Larry goes to Allan and Carol's house, and when they find Sandy is missing, races with them toward the desert. As Him carries Sandy to the crater, Allan desperately yells at him, calling him Carl and begging him to return his daughter. Him regains consciousness long enough to drop Sandy at Allan’s feet, but then collapses and dies. Allan sends Larry for help while he and Carol guard Sandy, who is still unconscious. The alien then telepathically calls to Carol and Allan, explaining that his race no longer has corporeal form and is searching the galaxy for bodies in which they can live. The alien expresses bewilderment that Allan was able to break his control over Him, and Allan explains that Him was a fellow soldier during World War II, and that because of a bad decision made by Allan, Him was seriously wounded and Allan had cared for Him since then. Allan and Carol refuse the alien’s offer to release them in exchange for Sandy, whom he intends to take back to his planet for experimentation. Realizing that their love is a force that can defeat the alien, which feeds on hate and madness, Allan and Carol carry Sandy to the crater. As the sun rises, Allan and Carol are horrified to see the spaceship open and reveal a horrible, fanged, beast, in which the alien is currently living. The beast is killed by the strength of their resistance, although the pre-programmed spaceship takes off soon after its death. Sandy revives, and Allan expresses concern that the alien brain took over another life form after its host died. A desert rat suddenly appears, but as Allan is about to kill it, an eagle swoops down and catches it. Allan considers shooting the eagle, but Carol stops him, stating that she has never seen an eagle there before. As Larry joins them, they speculate that a force for good sent the eagle to rescue them, then begin to walk home. 

Production Company: San Mateo Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: American Releasing Corp.  
Director: David Kramarsky (Dir)
  Donald Myers (Asst dir)
Producer: Roger Corman (Exec prod)
  David Kramarsky (Prod)
  Charles Hanawalt (Assoc prod)
Writer: Tom Filer (Scr)
Photography: Everett Baker (Photog)
Art Direction: Albert Ruddy (Art dir)
Film Editor: Jack Killifer (Film ed)
Music: John Bickford (Mus)
Sound: Bruce Hannagan (Sd)
Special Effects: Paul Blaisdell (Spec eff)
Production Misc: Jack Haze (Prod mgr)
  Sheldon Mitchell (Tech dir)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs:
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
San Mateo Productions, Inc. 22/8/1955 dd/mm/yyyy LP8034

PCA NO: 17594
Physical Properties: Sd:
  b&w:

 
Genre: Science fiction
 
Subjects (Major): Alien invasions
  Aliens, Extraterrestrial
  Brainwashing
  Family relationships
  Love
 
Subjects (Minor): Birds
  Birthdays
  Cattle
  Death by animals
  Deputies
  Deserts
  Farmers
  Fear
  German shepherd dogs
  Handymen
  Loneliness
  Mutes
  Spaceships
  Telepathy
  Veterans

Note: Contemporary reviews often referred to this film as The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes . The picture begins with offscreen, voice-over narration by the “alien,” describing how he is going to take over Earth by inhabiting the minds of birds, animals and weak human beings. The alien proclaims that “because it will seem like I see your most secret acts, you will know me as the beast with a million eyes.” Although a 13 Apr 1955 HR news item stated that film would be the initial production by Pacemaker Productions, San Mateo Productions is credited by contemporary sources as the production company.
       HR news items note that the picture was shot on location at O’Rourke’s Date Ranch in Coachella Valley, CA. The film marked the producing and directing debut of David Kramarsky. According to a modern source, the beast inhabited by the alien, which is seen in the spaceship, was a finger puppet that special effects artist Paul Blaisdell made out of wax. According to executive producer Roger Corman’s autobiography, the picture cost only $30,000 to make.
       Other modern sources note that American Releasing Corp. executive James Nicholson created the picture’s title and an ad campaign, featuring key art of a beast with 1,000,000,000 eyes; after which the script was written. Exhibitors, who had expressed great interest in the film based on its title and posters, were deeply disappointed upon seeing that it did not contain a multi-eyed beast. Modern sources also add that the picture was filmed with a non-union crew and cast, which drew criticism from the Screen Actors Guild and IATSE. According to a modern source, some of the film's interior scenes were photographed by Floyd Crosby and directed by Corman.
 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   1 Dec 55   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Apr 1955   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Apr 1955   p. 11, 13.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   21 Jan 56   p. 754.
Variety   14 Dec 55   p. 6.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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