X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes has to be one of my favorite Roger Corman films and one I revisit on many occasions since I first saw it in 1989. I know the year because it was shown on British TV as part of director Alex Cox presents Moviedrome series that featured so many classic films. Check out my Moviedrome appreciation post I did a while back to see what it was all about or get a nostalgia fix if like me, you fondly remember the series.
Ray Milland does what Ray Milland does best, play that moody, cantankerous old fella. He goes into the part nice and slowly, working his way up the stages of anger, like the levels of a retro arcade game to reach the boss level. Bit tetchy and irritable moving on to an old grouch curmudgeon with a short-temper leading on to full blown short fuse of anger of the highest proportions. He has real reason to start to lose his cool but the guy does bring it on himself in the name of science and the desire to invent a revolutionary new step in the realms of the physical and material world!
What was that incredible feat in science for, I hear you ask?………. Well to perv at party goers dancing the night away of course! The ability to have X-Ray eyes to see through layers of clothes, through walls and beyond! Well it’s the beyond which becomes a BIG problem for our intrepid inventor.
Tagline – Suddenly he could see through clothes, flesh… and walls!
Imaging happily smiling away looking at all the lovely ladies walking down the road as you have a sneaky gawk. To be honest the boobs would probably look mighty strange all squished and strapped down by the bra but still, naughty to see. But then you start seeing through the skin, it’s all blood red and veiny. Then the ribcage starts to come into view. Oh god what’s that beginning to appear? That sweet lady with the curves has turned into a horror show. It might be natural but you don’t wanna be seeing the heart quivering to the beat as it pushes and pulses out blood! Suddenly your excitement soon goes limp, lol, this wasn’t a good idea.
Dr. James Xavier – “You could say I’m seeing you really for the first time? and that’s the most interesting birthmark you have above the third rib on your left side.”
Dr. Diane Fairfax – “But! how do you know that? Ooo you can see me!”
Dr. James Xavier – “Oh and your back bone is a sheer delight but remember I’m a doctor”
Dr. Diane Fairfax – “Well you remember that I’m a woman”
Dr. James Xavier – “I can hardly forget!”
Dr. James Xavier (Ray Milland) a brilliant scientist happily experimenting in the field of human eyesight, intending to help increase the scope of human vision. To be able to see further, more detailed, beyond the usual visible spectrum of the eye. After not receiving the results he’d wished for from experimenting on animals, he started testing on himself. Realising the true potential of his creation he tries a bit more. Before he knows it Dr Xavier starts to discover he can see through clothing. His new vision can become the most marvelous tool in the operating theatre. He can see problems within the human body and diagnose medical problems without having to open a patience up or carry out a misdiagnosed procedure. This was a vital new miracle breakthrough for the world of medical science. As Dr Xavier drops a few more doses of his special formula into each eye, surely nothing could go wrong?
Dr. Diane Fairfax – “What do you see?”
Dr. James Xavier – “The city… as if it were unborn. Rising into the sky with fingers of metal, limbs without flesh, girders without stone. Signs hanging without support. Wires dipping and swaying without poles. A city unborn. Flesh dissolved in an acid of light. A city of the dead.”
It’s a perfect example of experimental science fiction and horror mixed together and fits it superbly with the sixties era. It’s like a colour version of an extended episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. X is directed by that man of the B-Movies, Roger Corman on the usual low budget and quick turnaround. Meaning we get a super snappy short run-time and a fast paced story. No time for filling, let’s get down to business. We the viewer experiences the fast decline of our poor panicked protagonist as his life quickly becomes to disastrous consequences. Yes it might be his own thought but you do care for the old scientist and his madding plight.
Tagline – HE STRIPPED SOULS AS BARE AS BODIES!
There’s some great supporting cast from Diana Van der Vlis who is wonderful as his friend and science partner. Harold J Stone and John Hoyt also appear as scientists. Stand-up comedian Don Rickles plays Crane the deceiving head of a travelling carnival. At time of writing it is up to stream on youtube here
You know what The Man with the X-Ray Eyes has always been my favourite Roger Corman film, well there’s a new contender knocking on the door! It’s still has some multiple veiwings to catch up but with my recent viewing of Not Of This Earth I can safely say it has competition. And that’s alright with me, the more the merrier. What’s your favourite Roger Corman films by the way? Let me know if you wish.
PS The poster artwork from artist Reynold Brown is absolutely incredible. One day I would love to have my own mini cinema room and if I do that poster is going straight up.