“I need this world. From millions of light-years away I approach your planet. Soon my space ship 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 all of your most secret acts, you will know me as The Beast With a Million Eyes!”
With this assault on the viewer, The Beast with a Million Eyes begins. The opening monologue plays over somewhat chaotic imagery of space and Earth, making for one of the best openings I’ve ever seen for a sci-fi film. It’s hilarious and awe-inspiring all at once.
The film follows the Kelley family, a couple and their daughter who live in the middle of nowhere and are not the happiest or most loving bunch. When we meet them for the first time, Carol (Lorna Thayer) is admitting to her husband Allan (Paul Birch) that she sometimes hates their daughter, Sandy (Dona Cole).
One day, a plane crashes near the Kelley home, and from then on odd things begin happening. The animals who live in the remote landscape around the Kelley home start acting strange, birds rain down from the sky and the mute handyman only known as ‘Him’ (Leonard Tarver) loses his mind.
As it turns out, the reason for all of this madness is that a beast (voiced by Bruce Whitmore) has, as he promised in the opening monologue, begun taking over the minds of animals and “weak” humans. Though they can’t seem to get along even under normal conditions, the Kelley family must band together against the alien who has been watching them with the help of his “million eyes.”
If the transcript of that opening monologue wasn’t enough of a cue, let me tell you that this film brings a whoooole lot of corn. Paul Birch’s delivery is stiff as a two-by-four, while most of the cast surrounding him overacts.
I’m quite surprised to find that Lorna Thayer racked up over 70 acting credits during her career, because if this film is any indication there is nothing that could make her delivery of dialogue realistic. The script is no help in this respect, but every word that comes out of her mouth seems incredibly over-dramatic… which is fun to watch, but doesn’t exactly boost her reputation as a good actress.
Some credit must be given to Dona Cole who portrays daughter Sandy, for at least her performance offers up a distinct mix of the traits of her on-screen parents. She flip-flops between excessive emotion and complete apathy.
The direction seems to bring most of the corn here. (The film was directed by David Kramarsky. IMDb lists Roger Corman and Lou Place as uncredited directors, but I can find no proof of this.) Again, what with its poorly-written dialogue, dramatic shifts in tone the script is no help — but someone had to tell Leonard Tarver to fling his axe across the yard with the grace of a ballerina rather than anger, and tell Lorna Thayer to toss her head around just a little more wildly for dramatic effect.
The Beast with a Million Eyes is not your typical creature feature. We don’t see much of the mind-controlling alien, and aside from the images used during the opening monologue and credits, special effects aren’t used all too often. The film relies more on the use of overzealous sound effects, since the budget wasn’t high enough to bring creepy creatures on-screen. According to IMDb, the “monster” we do see is just a tea kettle with holes punched in it, which kind of tells you everything you need to know about this movie!
Though heavily flawed, The Beast with a Million Eyes is ridiculously entertaining. The Kelleys live on a farm, and if I had to guess their crop, I’d be 99.999% certain that they grow only corn. If you prefer your creature features with actual creatures in them, avoid this one. But if you’re like me and just an enjoy all bad/good movies in general, or have ever found yourself wishing you could see a man swat away a gaggle of falling birds with the butt of a rifle, meet the newest flick in your list of favorites.