... aka: UFOs from Outer Space
The Eye Creatures was one of a half dozen color remakes of black-and-white AIP productions; all made by Texas-born, self-proclaimed "schlockmeister" Larry Buchanan for his fledgling company Azalea Pictures. These things were all talky and poorly acted, had terrible special effects, were shot on the cheap on 16mm and haunted TV for a number of years, so a lot of people saw them back in the 60s and 70s. The ridiculously awful ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS (1966), a remake of the Roger Corman-directed IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956) was the most famous of these offerings. There was also CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE (1966), a re-working of Voodoo Woman (1957), CREATURE OF DESTRUCTION (1967), a remake of The She Creature (1957), In the Year 2889 (1967), a re-do of Day the World Ended (1955), Hell Raiders (1968), a cut rate re-filming of the war film Suicide Battalion (1958) and this one, a remake of the fun minor cult classic INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN (1957). Like the other films in this dubious series, credit was not given to Invasion's director Edward L. Cahn nor to the film's writers Robert Gurney Jr. and Al Martin nor to Paul W. Fairman, author of the original's source story "The Cosmic Frame." Never mind the fact that the film is a nearly word-for-word remake with basically the same exact characters.
A man with a briefcase handcuffed around his wrist shows up at a top secret military instillation to drop off an important ("Civilization itself may depend on it!") canister of film. On the film is footage of UFOs circling the Earth and landing somewhere near "Security Sector 3." Presuming the invaders are unfriendly, the General (Ethan Allen), head of the UFO division of the Air Force, sends operative and public relations expert Lt. Robertson (Warren Hammack) to the small town of White Rock Terrace, where he poses as a recruiting officer while investigating. Not taking all of this too seriously are Corporal Culver (Bob Cowan) and his underling (Tony Huston), who use their high-tech infrared video surveillance system to watch teenagers necking at Lover's Lane instead of the sky. Some green saucers land near cranky Old Man Bailey's (Charles McLine) farm in White Rock just as teenage "rough neck" Stan Kenyon (top-billed John Ashley) and his girl Susan Rogers (Cynthia Hull), the city attorney's daughter, are making their plans to elope.
On their way back from Lover's Lane, Stan and Susan hit and (they think) kill a weird-looking, white, lumpy alien creature with multiple eyes. Its arm is ripped off in the process but it has a life of its own and punctures their tire. They're forced to go to Bailey's farm for help, but he's sick of "those blasted smoochers" on his property and chases them away with a shotgun. Carl (Bill Peck), a drifter and con artist who's just recently arrived in town, stumbles upon Stan's car and the injured extraterrestrial and ends up getting killed by a bunch of the aliens. When the police finally show up, Stan is blamed for the death since he and Susan had reported hitting an alien to the police earlier, so they go on the lam in an effort to prove their innocence and enlist the aid of Carl's roommate Mike (Chet Davis) to help. Meanwhile, the inept military is called in and try to blowtorch their way into the fallen spacecraft. And I shall end this plot description right here because I feel like I'm being redundant. The scenes, characters and dialogue are almost identical to Saucer Men... and I've already reviewed it once.
This was the first of these remakes from Buchanan and, though really, really bad, it's slightly less awful than most of what would follow it. Helping matters some is that they got to pilfer from a decently-written script; which was witty and intentionally campy; making it very adaptable to an extreme low-budget. However, since this is a remake, it needs to find a way to improve upon the original or offer a fresh take on an established idea and this does no such thing. The acting is terrible, the photography is flat and ugly, the effects suck and the direction is leaden. The only new scenes grafted on (the goofy peeping tom military guys) are horrible. Worst of all, the creatures aren't even any good. The original had small, highly-memorable, giant-eyed aliens played by dwarfs. This one has regular-sized men in boring, lumpy white suits. You can even see the seams on the costume at times. Though these designs are awful, they are again better than what would pop up in later Buchanan films. If you combined the eye creatures from both movies and dyed it red, it would look exactly like Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba!
Future director S.F. Brownrigg (Don't Look in the Basement) was the editor, Basement star Annabelle Weenick was the dialogue director and Bill Thurman (a regular presence in Brownrigg and Buchanan films) has a small role at the beginning. Peter Graves narrates the USAF Briefing film. Retromedia distributed the DVD, as they have with most of Buchanan's other films (which are public domain).