Hilariously Bad: The Eye Creatures

Our Halloween Monster movie this week is so bad that they could not even get the title correct. Our movie is The Eye Creatures aka Attack of the The Eye Creatures.

Yes, you read that correctly: Attack of the The Eye Creatures.

Originally our movie was titled The Eye Creatures but the studio decided to rename it. The title card was redone and re-shot to superimpose “Attack of the” over the original title. Only after it was all done did the studio discover the mistake and they never bothered to correct it. Luckily for grammar fans, the three versions of our movie that are available at the Internet Archive all have the original title; no extra “the” to be found.

The Eye Creatures was produced and directed by Larry Buchanan. Larry was hired by American International Pictures (AIP) “to make a series of low budget color remakes of old AIP films”. The Eye Creatures was the first of the remakes. Larry called this series of films his “wretched remakes”. AIP wanted to make money by selling film packages to the late night television market. Rather than spending time and money making new movies, they decided to simply remake old films. The Eye Creatures, made in color in 1965, is an almost frame by frame remake of the 1957 black and white film Invasion of the Saucer Men. The biggest difference between the two films is the appearance of the monster. Invasion of the Saucer Men has a much, much, MUCH better monster. Unfortunately, Invasion of the Saucer Men is not in the Public Domain. However, a copy of it can be found at YouTube.

Poor Larry Buchanan had a ridiculously tiny budget of approximately $16,000 to make The Eye Creatures. And, according to star John Ashley, more than half that amount went to his salary. So director / producer Larry only had about $8,000 to make his movie. And boy, wow! Does it show.

The Eye Creatures is about an alien spaceship that lands somewhere in the USA. The alien creatures shamble about and terrorize a few teenagers while the US military half-heartedly fumbles an attempt to stop the invaders.

So what did director / producer Larry Buchanan’s $8,000 remaining budget buy?

  • They obviously could not afford to fix the title snafu.
  • They bought a couple of shots of a flying saucer from Invaders from Mars (1953). The ship only slightly resembles the two other alien ships seen in The Eye Creatures.
  • They used some background music from Beach Party (1963) even though there is no beach to be seen in our movie.
  • The Eye Creatures was shot on the Dallas, Texas ranch of a wealthy businessman.
  • 31 year old John Ashley who played teenager Stan was “imported” from Hollywood but many of the rest of the cast were locals.
  • The story of The Eye Creatures takes place on a single night but the movie itself was filmed at night AND during the day over several weeks so shots repeatedly change from night time to day time to night time to day time throughout the film. Some times changing repeatedly in a single scene.
  • The production could apparently only afford one full body alien suit and about four alien head masks. So in scenes where there are groups of aliens, viewers will see one alien and four people in black body suits and white sneakers wearing alien heads.
  • Nobody bothered to hide the big black zipper that runs down the back of the full body alien costume so it is plainly visible whenever the alien turns its back.
  • A severed alien hand is made of cheap rubber. The claws supposedly puncture a tire but clearly bend when the hand is “clawing” its way around.
  • Sometimes the “severed” alien hand is obviously being pulled by a visible string and sometimes it is obviously a glove worn by someone whose arm is plainly visible.

At least director / producer Larry Buchanan was apparently able to afford a few simple tools. At one point in the movie, hero Stan is wielding a wheel wrench as a weapon against possible attacks. Just a short time later we see an Eye Creature using a crowbar to half-heartedly batter its way into a car and rescue the severed alien hand. We can assume that Stan got his wheel wrench out of his own car but I have no idea where the Eye Creature got its crowbar. Maybe a crowbar is just a universal instrument.

The Eye Creatures is one of those movies that is so bad it’s funny. But the truly sad thing is that I can remember watching this movie and actually being scared silly that the severed hand was going to crawl its way up the car seat and grab our heroine Susan. The earliest late night TV showing of our movie was October 1967. I was too young to stay up for late night horror shows; I probably saw The Eye Creatures a few years later. So I was probably about ten years old and scared silly. How embarrassing. Watching the movie now, the cheapness and just plain bad “special” effects are laughable. The mobile severed alien hand is so clearly just a glove. There are scenes when all the claws are pointing up in the air. How can a disembodied hand possibly claw its way up the back of the car seat if none of the claws are actually touching the seat? Did it suddenly turn into a floating severed hand? Yet it scared me enough back then that I still remember it to this day. Just plain embarrassing.

I also remember being on tenter hooks as the aliens surrounded and closed in on the car our heroes were cowering in. Watching the same scene now, I almost fell asleep because the aliens moved so slowly.

By the way, what was up (literally) with our heroine’s hair? Susan looks like she has a huge alien egg of some sort balanced on her head. Was that the style back then? I certainly don’t remember that. It’s just plain ridiculous.

And the US military is laughable in this movie. The “security” measures taken to protect the secret film at the beginning of the story are mind boggling inane. Not to mention the brainless soldiers who spend half the movie spying on the teenagers making out at the local lovers’ lane. Alien Eye Creatures are lurching all around in the woods yet the soldiers never see them. The soldiers even manage to accidentally blow up the alien ship and then congratulate each other on a job well done. They never have the slightest clue that all the aliens are still roaming around the woods. Completely half-witted.

The local police are just as moronic. When Stan and Susan are arrested (or at least taken to police headquarters), they are placed in a room that has an unlocked outside door. There they are, suspected of running over and killing a man, yet Stan and Susan are left alone in a room and able to simply waltz right out the door with no one noticing. In fact, in one scene we see the police chief taking a little snooze. While his daughter, Susan, has just escaped from police custody after being taken in with her “roughneck” boyfriend on suspicion of killing a man. On the same night when there are unexplained lights in the sky and explosions. Not to mention no one ever seemed to notice the military maneuvering around in the woods and blowing things up. Nope, nothing at all important going on. Time for a nap. Preposterous.

Speaking of preposterous. The way the movie keeps jumping from night time to day time and back again is totally farcical. Surely somebody on the film crew should have remembered that the story took place at night. Maybe they thought some scenes were just to dark and hard to see. Maybe they thought a little light would make it easier for movie goers to follow the action. It’s just a little hard to believe that Stan and Susan are in deadly danger from aliens who are lurking in the dark woods at night … when the sun is shining! But wait, the next minute Stan and Susan are standing on a road in the dark. Then it’s light out again, then it’s dark out, then light, then dark. It’s laughable.

It’s hard to believe this movie actually scared me when I was a kid.

Here is some of the dialogue that struck my fancy:

  • The courier reminds the General that absolute security is necessary and the General responds, “I realize that civilization itself may depend on it.”
  • Two soldiers are watching for UFOs. The Sergeant asks, “Got anything on the infrared scope?” Corporal Culver responds, “Yep. Moving body.” The Sergeant tells Culver to get it on the scanner and Culver does. The image is of the local lovers’ lane. Culver leers, “Ain’t science wonderful?”
  •  At the local diner, Lieutenant Robertson seems upset about the conversation. The waitress consoles him, “The boys are just kidding about seeing a spaceship, Lieutenant.” Lt. Robertson complains, “Everyone knows there’s no such thing. How many times do we have to deny it before people will believe it?”
  • Old Man Bailey is upset about all the cars on his property, “Another carload of those blasted smoochers on my property! I’ll get the law after ‘em!”
  • Carl phones and tells Mike about the alien body he has found, “I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t know what it is. It’s stuck under a car!” Carl then tells Mike to clean out the refrigerator, “Yeah, what I’m bringing home is perishable. We’ve got to keep it on ice.”
  • Colonel Harrison has some advice, “When you’ve been in the Air Force as long as I have you’ll learn you don’t have to think. All you do is follow Standard Operating Procedures.”
  • Stan realizes the Eye Creatures have a plan, “You know something? Those things, whatever they are, they’re smarter than all of us put together.” Susan asks, “What do you mean?” Stan replies, “Remember when we saw them banging away at the front of our car?” “What’s so smart about that?” Susan asks. Stan explains, “Don’t you see? They killed that man and then they dented the fender of my car to make it look like we did it. It’s a frame up!” Susan is upset, “And we thought they were mad at the car!”
  • Culver and his Sergeant don’t think the alien they have spotted on the scanner is real. Culver says, “I think I have some weird monster film on TV. Nothing as ugly as that can be for real.” The Sergeant replies, “Oh no? Have you looked in your mirror lately?” Culver retorts, “Funny, ha ha ha! But it must be near the end of the picture.” “How can you tell?” asks the Sergeant. “Well that search light swung by, right?” says Culver. “Right.” Culver explains, “Well, that stupid monster’s beginning to stumble. I’ll bet you five bucks he falls right off that cliff.”  And a few seconds later, yep, the Eye Creature falls off the cliff.
  • Stan describes Susan’s car, “Yeah, the gang calls her Elvis. She shakes and shimmies a lot but she can really go.”
  • Lt. Robertson has some doubts, “Did it ever occur to you that there might be other things being hushed up by other units like ours?”

The Internet Archive has three versions of The Eye Creatures available FREE in the Public Domain. The audio quality of all three versions is pretty good. Although I did have to turn up the volume a bit. As far as the video quality, one of the versions is in black and white. This was a cheapo version available for television stations that wanted to save money and the video really looks cheap. It’s blurry and grainy. The two color versions are pretty good. Yes, the story does take place at night and some scenes are dark and hard to see but some of the scenes were filmed during the day and, as ridiculous as that was, it results in a film that is lighter and easier to see than it should have been.

Besides the laughable “special” effects and the ridiculous behavior of various characters, it is also fun to see some of the very old fashioned and outdated items sprinkled throughout the film. The video projector that the general watches the secret film on seems so ancient. Yet I actually had to learn how to thread film and run a projector (just like the general does). The antique telephone that Stan and Susan use at the old Bailey house. How many of today’s younger movie fans will even recognize that as a relative of their newest smart phone? The camera with the huge flash that Mike carries. It’s hard to imagine lugging one of those things around when many of today’s cameras are just another element of a tablet. The puny little spotlight that Stan uses against the aliens sure is pretty laughable when compared to the big industrial strength lights I’ve seen on many pickup trucks. It’s fun to see just how much has changed over time.

Of course, the best thing about our movie, The Eye Creatures aka Attack of the The Eye Creatures, is that it is FREE in the Public Domain at the Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive has three versions of The Eye Creatures available.

Version #1 is in black and white. This was a cheap copy of The Eye Creatures made by the studio to sell to television stations that could not broadcast in color or just wanted to save some money. The video quality is not good but this version is actually the most popular with more than 29,000 views. You can download it or watch online. Please click this link for version #1.

The second most popular version of The Eye Creatures has more than 8,000 views. This version is in color. To download it or watch online, please click this link for version #2.

Version #3 of The Eye Creatures has more than 6,000 views and is also in color. This version also has an altered title possibly created by the original downloader. To download it or watch online, please click this link for version #3.

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