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Saturday, 7 April 2007

The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955) David Kramarsky

The beast with a million eyes and a theatrical voice tells us that he's coming to our planet from millions of light years away to take it. He needs our world, apparently, and he'll use every means to get it, including the animals and birds and anything else that might make the remotest bit of sense. The director is David Kramarsky, who never directed another film, but there are two others hiding without credits: Lou Place, who also directed Daddy-O (aka Downbeat aka Out on Probation), and the great Roger Corman. If he had a hand in this and chose to take his name off, that should tell us plenty.

After the outrageous opening monologue, we suddenly find ourselves out in the desert where some rancher is waxing philosophical. The rancher is Allan Kelley, who doesn't just have a ranch in the desert, he also has a hysterical wife, Carol; a beautiful daughter, Sandra; and some weird mute idiot guy who lives on the ranch, reads smut and bugs his eyes. Apparently he's just a harmless peeping tom but then this is a fifties sci-fi B movie, and one that MST3K would have great fun with. Anyway, just as everyone has managed to demonstrate how dysfunctional they all are the alien spaceship arrives.

Of course we don't see it, we just hear a high pitched noise that makes all these dysfunctional people even more dysfunctional and everything around them a little more strange. A black bird flops rather than falls out of the sky onto Allan's truck, Duke the cute and cuddly German Shepherd forgets how to walk properly and so becomes awesomely scary, and Darrin Stephens from Bewitched turns up in his debut movie. Unfortunately Duke is the best actor in the film and he's also better than the scriptwriter.

We keep hearing mention of apparently important events that are either completely ignored or forgotten about. The continuity errors are startling. Also, to demonstrate the biggest lack of understanding of human motivation, Carol murders Duke with an axe but next morning Sandra suggests that maybe it was the best thing that could happen to bring them together as a family. In the modern era this film would rely entirely on the special effects because then we might not notice the lack of acting ability or real plot. The catch is that there are no special effects here either, except some coffeemaker in the desert. Everything weird that happens takes place off screen and the characters just react to it.

Needless to say this film is really bad. There's not a single good thing to say about it, not one. However it's also boring in the way that Plan 9 from Outer Space isn't. Does that make it worse than the supposed worst film of all time? Much of that comes from the fact that James H Nicholson of American International presold this on the basis of the title and some great advertising, but that was before it was made. The distributors were upset because the ads were better than the film. I'm not surprised.

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