X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on December 15th, 2021 | Movie Review | Sci-Fi, Medical, Mad Scientist, Stalker, B-Horror

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It’s about a medical doctor who invents some very special eye drops.

X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes was produced and directed by Roger Corman (The Terror, The Raven, and The Undead) and stars Ray Milland (The Thing with Two Heads, The Attic, and The Uncanny), Diana Van Der Vlis (The Swimmer), and Harold J. Stone (The Big Mouth, The Wrong Man, and The Chapman Report) – with special guest star, Don Rickles (The Catch and The Wool Cap) as a sideshow barker.

Can a man see too much?

X The Man with X Ray Eyes Review

The film opens with three images: (1) a still image of a fake bloody eyeball detached from its socket; (2) an eyeball with rubbery-looking tissue dropped into a boiling beaker; and (3) psychedelic spiraling – all against jarring orchestral jabs and stabs.

This, the opening montage assures us, is going to be a film about eyeballs, gross-outs, and psychedelia. And it is.

Dr. Xavier designs eye drops which improve the ordinary range of human vision; allowing not just greater clarity, but greater range – into wavelengths denied to ordinary human sight. When he tries the drops out on a monkey, the monkey rolls over, gazing upwards, and expires. So (naturally) Dr. X tries them on himself.

The drops work. Initially, Dr. X uses his enhanced vision for good. But as his ability to control its effects wanes, he eventually loses the ability to perceive ordinary objects. His world appears in the form of gamma ray transmissions and beyond. Even shutting his eyes doesn’t help.

Dr. X’s anxiety spirals. After accidentally killing a colleague, he quits his surgeon/research gig and disappears. So (naturally) he joins a carnival where his gifts are more appreciated.

It’s a Faustian tale – the horrors of too much knowledge. Dr. X is told, “Only the gods see everything.” He puffs up and replies: “I’m closing in on the gods.” Ray Milland presents us with a thoroughly unlikable character with whom we still sympathize and Roger Corman somehow conveys the horror of seeing too much with a ridiculously spare budget, most of which seems to have been allocated to an impressive car/helicopter chase sequence.  

After crashing a stolen car into some Joshua trees, Dr. X stumbles into a tent revival. Approaching the pastor, he is asked whether he wants to be saved. Dr. X replies in the negative; he does not want to be saved – he wishes to tell what he sees. And he describes a Lovecraftian acid trip of a picture.

Worth Watching?

Yes, X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes is worth watching. It’s Xcellent.

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes Review (1963) Worth Watching? - ALL HORROR Tweet it

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