One of the earliest releases by the studio that would shortly become American International, THE BEAST WITH 1,000,000 EYES (aka The Unseen and its written-out form; The Beast with a Million Eyes) has drawn a lot of criticism since the day of it’s release. This largely seems to be because everyone who ever saw the film expected a literal million-eyed monster! I’m not sure why that is, either.
The film’s basic premise is that an intelligence from another world has landed on our planet and taken control of numerous animals to act as it’s occupying forces. Since it sees everything through the senses of these slave animals, it figuratively has a million eyes. A solid premise and one that justifies the title, but audiences wanted a monster. This experience would dictate the rules for AIP’s genre output for the rest of the decade and well into the 60s.
The film itself is pretty threadbare because of it’s tiny budget, but it has some moments of genuine suspense. The always welcome Paul Birch and Lorna Thayer head the cast with Dona Cole in a supporting role. The film is notable as the first film to feature the work of Paul Blaisdell. Following the disastrous premier, director Roger Corman hired the illustrator to create a monster that could be spliced into the film. The result is a scene in which one of the Beast’s slaves from another planet is briefly seen occupying the spaceship which brings the Beast to Earth (though for some reason this footage is obscured by hypnotic swirls and a single eyeball superimposed over the scene). Both men would fare better with their next film, THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED, which also starred Paul Birch.