X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)
Director: Roger Corman
Starring: Ray Milland, Diana Van der Vlis, Harold J. Stone, John Hoyt & Don Rickles
Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Director Roger Corman (Tales of Terror, The Haunted Palace) sets his shocking sights on X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, starring Academy Award winner Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend) as Dr. Xavier. In an attempt to improve human eyesight, the daring doctor concocts a formula for X-ray vision. Impressed with his achievement but ignored by his peers, Xavier successfully tests the experimental drug on himself before aftereffects of terror emerge. Diana Van der Vlis (The Swimmer), Harold J. Stone (The Wrong Man), John Hoyt (Gimme a Break!) and Don Rickles (Toy Story) co-star.
In arguably one of Corman’s most profound efforts of the 1960s, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes was unsurprisingly produced quickly and cheaply while supporting impressive, if not dated, visual effects. Following their collaboration on 1962‘s The Premature Burial, Ray Milland headlines as the curious Dr. Xavier, determined to see beyond normal human standards. Discovering a formula for X-ray vision and finding little support from his fellow professionals, Xavier chooses to experiment on himself. After witnessing humorous situations of party guests booging in their birthday suits, Xavier’s abilities begin to waver forcing the doctor to unwisely increase his dosage. After a moment of pressure costs a colleagues life, Xavier evades law enforcement by joining the ranks as a sideshow performer. Comedy legend Don Rickles co-stars as a seedy carnival barker who realizes Xavier’s true powers and greedily uses them to his advantage. In addition, Corman camp regular Dick Miller (A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors) makes a brief appearance as an obnoxious audience member convinced Xavier’s powers are a ruse until proven wrong. With his vision and sanity on the brink, Xavier’s loyal and beautiful assistant, Dr. Diane Fairfax (Diana Van der Vlis), attempts to ease his situation to no avail. Offering little hope, Xavier sees into a future of dark despair before leading to a startlingly grim finale with staying power.
Scripted by Robert Dillion (The Old Dark House) and Ray Russell (Zotz!) respectively, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes was originally released as a supporting feature with American International Pictures’ Dementia 13. Ray Milland commands the picture with his performance of a rebellious doctor overtaken by his own experiment. In addition, Don Rickles shines in one of his better roles as the villainous carnival barker while, Diana Van der Vlis is competent, if not forgettable, as Xavier’s assistant and suggested love interest. Delivering a noted sci-fi shocker for its time, Director Roger Corman’s tightly paced story and visual guidance allows X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes to stand the test of time with a terrifying ending of despair.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Supporting healthy, natural grain levels, mild instances of flakes and speckles are on display while skin tones are nicely detailed and colors, most noticeably in wardrobe and Xavier’s POV sequences, pop accordingly. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is satisfactory with no intruding signs of distortion and Composer Les Baxter’s score relayed effectively. Special features are a plenty with an Audio Commentary with Producer/Director Roger Corman, Audio Commentary with Film Historian Tim Lucas, Terror Vision!: Joe Dante on X (6:07) finds Corman protégé Dante offering his first encounter with the X-ray thriller and his encyclopedic film knowledge on the film’s lasting impact. In addition, a Rare Prologue (4:59), Trailers from Hell with Mick Garris (2:34) and the Original Theatrical Trailer (2:19) round out the disc’s impressive supplemental package.
Suspenseful and still shocking, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes offers a glimpse into a doctor consumed by his own nightmarish creation. Ray Milland steers the picture wonderfully with a strong supporting cast, highlighted by Rickles‘ delightfully unsavory performance. Meanwhile, Kino Lorber Studio Classics treats this Corman gem like gold with a vastly improved video transfer and appreciable special features that shine a well-deserved light on this quality sci-fi effort.
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