X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes
|X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes|
Theatrical release poster
by Reynold Brown
|Directed by||Roger Corman|
|Produced by||Roger Corman|
|Music by||Les Baxter|
|Edited by||Anthony Carras|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
|Box office||53,087 admissions (France)|
X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes is a 1963 independently made color science fiction–horror film, produced and directed by Roger Corman, that stars Ray Milland. The film, written by Ray Russell and Robert Dillon, is notable for featuring comedian Don Rickles in a straight dramatic role. Veteran character actor Morris Ankrum makes an uncredited appearance in his final role. American International Pictures distributed the film in the fall of 1963 as a double feature with the Francis Ford Coppola-directed horror thriller Dementia 13.
Corman described the success of the film, which was shot in three weeks on a budget of under $300,000, as a miracle. Notable for its use of special effects to portray Dr. Xavier's greatly enhanced vision, the film's effects, though crude by today's standards, are still effective in conveying to the audience the protagonist's bizarre viewpoint.
Dr. Xavier develops eye drops 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 data, 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 but his ability to control it decreases. Eventually, he can see the world only in forms of light and texture that his brain is unable to fully comprehend. Even closing his eyes brings no relief from the darkness in his increasingly frightening world, as he can see through his closed 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. His eyes are altered along with his vision; first they become black and gold and later entirely black. To hide his startling appearance, he wears dark wraparound sunglasses at all times.
Leaving Las Vegas, Xavier drives out to the desert and finds 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 continuing to see anything more.
- Ray Milland as Dr. James Xavier
- Diana Van der Vlis as Dr. Diane Fairfax
- Harold J. Stone as Dr. Sam Brant
- John Hoyt as Dr. Willard Benson
- Don Rickles as Crane
- Barboura Morris as Nurse with young patient (uncredited)
- Morris Ankrum as Mr. Bowhead (uncredited)
- Dick Miller as Heckler (uncredited)
Corman says the idea for the film was his. It was originally about a scientist, then he felt that was "too obvious" so he 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".
Stephen King, in his horror film book Danse Macabre, claims there were rumors that the ending originally went further, with Milland crying out "I can still see" after gouging out his eyes. Corman has denied the existence of that ending but expressed enjoyment with 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'".
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At the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 88%, based on 25 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 6.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "By turns lurid and disturbing, The Man with the X-Ray Eyes is a compelling piece of sci-fi pulp and one of Roger Corman's most effective movies".
The film won the Astronave D'argento ("Silver Spaceship") award in 1963 at the first International Festival of Science Fiction Film (Festival internazionale del film di fantascienza) in Trieste, Italy.
Corman has considered updating the film with modern special effects, or possibly remaking the film entirely.
In other media
- Gold Key comic book adaptation: X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes (September 1963)
- British band Bauhaus have a song referencing the film in their 1981 album Mask.
- Blue Öyster Cult have a song referencing the film in their 1998 album Heaven Forbid.
- Tim Burton developed a script for a remake of the film with writer Bryan Goluboff, but it went unproduced.
- Roger Corman & Jim Jerome, How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never lost a Dime, Muller, 1990 p 117
- Box office information for Roger Corman films in France at Box Office Story
- Phipps, Keith (May 5, 2017). "Roger Corman Reflects On His Long, Legendary Career — But He Isn't Finished Yet". Uproxx. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
- "'Beach Party' Fifth on API Schedule". Los Angeles Times. 3 July 1962. p. C6.
- King, Stephen (1983). Danse Macabre. Berkley Books. p. 193. ISBN 0425104338.
- "'X'---The Man With the X-Ray Eyes (1963) – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Flixer. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 9, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Gold Key: X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes". Grand Comics Database.
- Gold Key: X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
- Maidy, Alex (July 18, 2018). "TOP 10 TIM BURTON MOVIES THAT NEVER HAPPENED". JoBlo. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
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