1950s Mid-Western America… dusty, barren landscapes, well-meaning townsfolk, innocent farm girls, not so innocent farm hands, and alien invaders. At a time when post-war Cold War paranoia was rife, cinema capitalised on a public’s fears by ushering in a golden age of sci-fi, and to the fore was the alien invasion movie. The decade saw the release of classics such as War of the Worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Inevitably, a wave of inferior films also arrived and The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes! is one such offender. Do not be drawn in by that vaguely interesting title; this is a terrible film, so terrible in fact that it doesn’t register even a single point on the so-bad-it’s-good spectrum. This is not a review: it is a warning.
The Kelley family already have their fair share of problems before a mysterious force begins to meddle in their lives. Their date farm is failing, mother can no longer bake, father seems to spend most of his time staring wistfully into the distance, and daughter Sandy can only speak in exasperated bursts while being creepily stalked by a mute farm helper known only as “Him”. When Sandy’s dog Duke attacks mother, father’s car is attacked by a gang of angry blackbirds, and neighbour Ben is trampled by a malevolent, stampeding cow, the Kelleys suspect something is afoot.
The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes! is a tediously dull affair punctuated by brief moments of awkwardly unintentional humour. If this wasn’t such an earnest film full of performances desperately striving for intensity, you would think it was all an elaborate joke; a spoof of the alien invasion trend of the decade, mocking the seriousness of a nation’s paranoia. Instead, this is a hopelessly disjointed film that challenges you to make it through to the ridiculous finale. The script is woefully unconvincing, with lines being delivered with all the flair of the worst amateur dramatics you can imagine. There is swooning and sighing, shaking and shouting, as the cast attempt to instil some emotion into dialogue that feels as if it was written by someone with only a passing understanding of the English language. Everything minutely interesting also seems to happen off screen; the aforementioned rampage of the berserking beef is brought to a swift conclusion off camera, with only a strained reaction shot giving you any hint of what took place.
Do not be fooled or tempted to seek the narcissistic pleasure that can be found in a terrible film. No, The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes! is a film so bad it’s just, well, bad.
THE BEAST WITH 1,000,000 EYES! / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: DAVID KRAMARSKY, ROGER CORMAN / SCREENPLAY: TOM FILER / STARRING: PAUL BIRCH, LORNA THAYER, DONA COLE, DICK SARGENT / RELEASE DATE: JULY 4TH