X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)
Reviewed on 2011 August 23
This Roger Corman flick horrified me when I was a little kid and caught it on TV one summer afternoon, scaring the crap out of myself. Watching it again as an adult reaffirmed things: Yep, it’s still sick.
Dr. James Xavier (Ray Milland) is a doctor who wants the ultimate vision; ideally, he wants to be able to see what’s going on with patients without x-rays. Lasik just won’t cut it; this man wants to make sight hounds jealous. His 20/20 vision may not be good enough for him, but his ego is in overdrive. In a foreshadowing bit of hubris, when a colleague tells him perfect vision isn’t the province of mortals, he informs him he’s closing in on the gods. Arrogant or not, the guy wants to use this to help patients, dreaming of spotting their sicknesses and weeding them out in their earliest stages.
Xavier works tirelessly on his serum to develop supervision, and when the lab monkey he tests it on dies, he volunteers himself as a guinea pig. (Say it with me, class: “This will not end well.”) Sure enough, he discovers he can read through paper and see through walls. He can see through clothes, the naughty monkey. The problem is Xavier overshoots and the potion works too well. Everyone starts looking like one of those nasty Visible Man kits to poor James, and things only deteriorate from there.
This movie turned my stomach for days as a little kid, and even though now I realize how corny it is: the party sequence is hilarious, and the ending is still a kick in the guts. According to legend, four last words were supposedly cut from the dialogue as just too much; if you don’t mind a spoiler or you’ve already seen this, email me and I’ll tell you the rumor. It doesn’t matter, though; this thing is upsetting enough with the alleged edit. Ray Milland was a great choice here, a little chilly and stiff enough to pull it off but not cold enough (at first) to be off-putting. Comes complete with loopy, Esquivel-ish music when Xavier “sees”, too.
Two chocolate morsels, and anything in a transparent glass.