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- DVD: The Man with X-Ray Eyes
- Rating: Unrated
- Starring: Ray Milland, Diana Van der Vlis, Harold J. Stone, John Hoyt, Don Rickles, Dick Miller
- Written By: Robert Dillon, Ray Russell
- Directed By: Roger Corman
- Distributor: Cheezy Flicks Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: Theatrical(1963), DVD(2008)
- Extras: Retro trailers and a PSA featuring Julie Andrews
THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES (1963)
Cheezy Flicks re-releases a Corman Classic
By Robert T. Trate
July 11, 2008
The Man with X-Ray Eyes(1963)
© Cheezy Flicks Entertainment
From the opening score by Les Baxter to director Roger Corman’s final shock the Man with X-Ray Eyes (formerly known as X) is a time capsule of the Sixties B horror genre worth every penny Corman put on screen.
Ray Milland portrays Dr. James Xavier, a man obsessed with discovering the secrets to better and clearer vision. His experiments are not to benefit mankind with better eyesight but to see past all that is hidden from the world and what lies beyond. Xavier believes that his visionary experiment will bring the medical field to a new level where doctors have the capabilities to be living x-ray machines. It is this obsession that is his downfall and his own shortsightedness that will cause his self-experimentation to go horribly wrong. Really there isn’t anything new here in the realm of mad scientist plots. They go all the way back to Mary Shelly’s Doctor Victor Frankenstein. Man wants answers and will ignore the laws of both man and nature to find them, ending, as it always does, with one horrific conclusion.
In retrospect, what worked was Corman applying that story to the modern era. The Sixties were uncertain times. The United States was rediscovering itself in terms of what was acceptable or not for race, sex and freedom. Corman walks a tightrope by showing his perception of the era and how men and women saw each other instead of focusing on his original intent, a horror film. One example of how he accomplished this is at a swinging dance party after Xavier has the ability to see them without their clothes. Another example deals with how the poor and destitute see Xavier as their savior.
There are many traps that the film falls into. Xavier wants to experiment on himself after an initial success with a test animal. His colleague Dr. Sam Brant (Harold J. Stone) tries to talk him out of it for all of about two minutes then agrees to perform the experiment. Unoriginally, they have Xavier kill an innocent person and he, of course, has to be on the run. He is reduced to performing parlor tricks with his eyes to make ends meet. This enables a few plot twists but perhaps a shuffling of the scenes in which they were shown could have made the story less formulaic.
The ending is a bigger than expected finale given the budget and the era of the film. Corman doesn’t waste a single penny on screen and gives the audience a ride on a plot that has been done to death. The final moments are a brilliant conclusion and will leave no fan of the genre disappointed. The Man with X-Ray Eyes is a great cautionary tale and the perils of science and man’s quest for knowledge.
There are several retro movie trailers (Drive in Massacre) and intermission cartoons that any film aficionado will appreciate. It is the public service announcement with Mary Poppins herself, Julie Andrews, explaining the rating of the Motion Picture Association of America that is truly worth seeing.