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Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Eye Creatures

This made-for-TV movie would normally fall outside of the scope of this study except that it is a member of a small sub-genre of a 50s sci-fi B movies remade for 60s TV. American International Pictures commissioned director Larry Buchanan to remake its 1957 Invasion of the Saucer Men for the television market. But they gave him almost no budget -- just $16,000, according to imdb.com. The Eye Creatures (EC) featured lumpy white humanoid monsters festooned with many eyes. The extremely low budget is obvious. When Wade Williams brought the rights to the film, it got retitled Attack of the The Eye Creatures (yes, two "the" words).

Quick Plot Synopsis
The uncredited screenwriter added the opening scenes in which an Air Force General briefs a lieutenant. Top secret spy satellite footage shows a flying saucer headed for earth. It will land in the midwest. The lieutenant is assigned to check it out. Also added, are a sergeant and corporal who monitor the top secret surveillance equipment. They use the "infrared scope" to peep on teens necking at Lover's Point. They form a sort of pair-of-perverts running gag interspersed through the original script. The '57 script kicks in with the drifters in the diner. See Invasion of the Saucer Men, as it is essentially the same, but with different names. The running thread with Mr. Larkin's beer-loving bull was left out.

Why is this movie fun?
Seeing an almost word-for-word remake of a 50s B sci-fi has some amusement value. Spotting the budget shortcuts (such as un-careful use of day-for-night) provides some amusement too.

Cold War Angle
The original had little Cold War to it. This remake added none.

Comedy Gone Bad -- The original screenplay had its own odd mixture of "serious" alien invasion / monster story and a few too many attempts at comic relief. Buchanan opted to boost the comic relief aspect in his remake. Yet, he also attempted to retain the "serious" alien-monster angle. The result is even more bi-polar than the original. EC would almost qualify as parody, but Buchanan was serious. At least, seriously completing his assignment with what little he was given.

Cheap Clones -- To satisfy demand for low-cost TV movies, AIP took many of its 50s B movies and cloned them. They took the existing scripts and had them reshot (in color!) with minimal budget. This way, they had two movies about saucer men, etc. Coming up soon in this group, we'll see It Conquered the World ('56) remade as Zontar: Thing From Venus and Day the World Ended ('55) remade as In the Year 2889. These, too, will re-use the older scripts almost verbatim, but be in color and feature more "hip" 60s actors.

Clip Spotter -- Buchanan used a short clip from Invaders From Mars ('53) where the glowing saucer hovered over the rim of the sand pit, then dove in.

Scrimping Exposed -- MST3K's critique of EC included a skit at the called "They Just Didn't Care," which highlighted the flagrant budget shortcuts. The more amusing is the "extra" eye creatures being actors in black shirts and pants, wearing just an eye creature head.

Bottom line? EC is so low in production value that the average viewer will likely find it extremely annoying, or hilarious. Fans of the 1957 original might be amused at seeing the script re-acted with less talent, like a community theater's version. In a way, one can almost respect how much Buchanan accomplished with almost NO money.

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