X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes

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X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes
X-RayEyes Rep.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Reynold Brown
Directed by Roger Corman
Produced by Roger Corman
Written by
Starring
Music by Les Baxter
Cinematography Floyd Crosby
Edited by Anthony Carras
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release date
  • September 18, 1963 (1963-09-18)

1971 (France)
Running time
79 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget ~$280,000[1]
Box office 53,087 admissions (France)[2]

X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes is a 1963 science-fiction horror film written by Ray Russell and Robert Dillon and directed by Roger Corman. The film stars Ray Milland as Dr. James Xavier, a world-renowned scientist, whose experiments with X-ray vision go awry. While most of the cast are relatively unknown, Don Rickles is notable in an uncharacteristically dramatic role. Veteran character actor Morris Ankrum makes an uncredited appearance, his last in the movie industry. American International Pictures released the film as a double feature with Dementia 13.

Shot in a mere three weeks on a budget of under $300,000, Corman described the film's success as a miracle. The movie was notable for its use of visual effects to portray Dr. Xavier's point of view. While crude by later standards, the visuals are still effective in impressing upon the audience the bizarre viewpoint of the protagonist.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Dr. Xavier develops eyedrops intended to increase the range of human vision, allowing one to see beyond the "visible" spectrum into the ultraviolet and x-ray wavelengths and beyond. Believing that testing on animals and volunteers will produce uselessly subjective observations, he tests the drops on himself.

Initially, Xavier discovers that he can see through people's clothing, and he uses his vision to save a young girl whose medical problem was misdiagnosed. Over time and with continued use of the drops, Xavier's visual capacity increases and his ability to control it decreases. Eventually he can no longer see the world in human terms, but only in forms of lights and textures that his brain is unable to fully comprehend. Even closing his eyes brings no relief from the darkness in his frightening world, as he can see through his eyelids.

After accidentally killing a friend, Xavier goes on the run, using his x-ray vision first to work in a carnival, and then to win at gambling in a Las Vegas casino. Xavier's eyes are altered along with his vision: first they become black and gold, and then entirely black. To hide his startling appearance, he wears dark wrap-around sunglasses at all times.

Leaving Las Vegas, Xavier drives out into the desert and wanders into a religious tent revival. He tells the evangelist that he is beginning to see things at the edges of the universe, including an "eye that sees us all" in the center of the universe. The pastor replies that what he sees is "sin and the devil" and quotes the Biblical verse, "If thine eye offends thee... pluck it out!" Xavier chooses to blind himself rather than see anything more.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Corman says the idea of the film was his. It was originally about a scientist, then he felt that was "too obvious" so changed the protagonist to be " a jazz musician who had taken too much drugs, and I get into about four or five pages, and I thought, “You know, I don’t like this idea,” and so I threw the whole thing out, and started back and went back with the scientist, which was the original idea."[3]

The film was announced as part of AIP's line up in June 1962. Lou Rusoff was going to be the producer.[4]

Corman made the film after The Haunted Palace.

Stephen King, in his book Danse Macabre, claims there were rumors that the ending originally went further with Milland crying out "I can still see" after removing his eyes.[5] Corman has denied the existence of that ending but expressed enjoyment of the idea saying "Now it’s interesting, Stephen King saw the picture and wrote a different ending, and I thought, 'His ending is better than mine.'"[3]

Reception[edit]

Awards[edit]

The film won the 1963 "Silver Spaceship" award at the first International Festival of Science Fiction Film (Festival internazionale del film di fantascienza) in Trieste, Italy.[6][7]

Corman has contemplated remaking the movie with better special effects.[3]

In other media[edit]

  • Gold Key: X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes (September 1963)[8][9]
  • British band Bauhaus have a song referencing the movie in their 1981 album Mask.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roger Corman & Jim Jerome, How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never lost a Dime, Muller, 1990 p 117
  2. ^ Box office information for Roger Corman films in France at Box Office Story
  3. ^ a b c Phipps, Keith (May 5, 2017). "Roger Corman Reflects On His Long, Legendary Career — But He Isn’t Finished Yet". Uproxx. Retrieved May 6, 2017. 
  4. ^ 'Beach Party' Fifth on API Schedule Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]03 July 1962: C6.
  5. ^ King, Stephen (1983). Danse Macabre. Berkley Books. p. 193. ISBN 0425104338. 
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 9, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 
  7. ^ http://scifiportal.eu/trieste-international-film-festival/
  8. ^ "Gold Key: X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes". Grand Comics Database. 
  9. ^ Gold Key: X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes at the Comic Book DB

External links[edit]