A 1963 science fiction classic from cult film director Roger Corman is currently available through Roanoke Cox Cable On DEMAND. The movie is “X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” (originally titled simply “X”). Oscar winning actor Ray Milland (“The Lost Weekend”) stars as Dr. James Xavier, a scientist who becomes his own test subject with tragic results.
The thing that makes this movie so watchable is the unrelenting earnestness behind the oftentimes ridiculous action. The story opens with Dr. Xavier discussing how humans only see one tenth of the wave spectrum. He’s developed some eye drops that granted a test monkey x-ray vision but then killed it. Convinced that the monkey’s brain could not comprehend what happened, he decides to try the drops himself.
Xavier’s vision progresses from seeing through paper to seeing through clothing in a goofy party scene thrown in just for that purpose. Eventually his vision becomes more than he can handle and things really get nutty. He sends a colleague sailing out a window to his death and he and his lady friend Dr. Fairfax (Diana Van der Vlis) hardly blink an eye. Later he uses his super vision to win money in Las Vegas. Silly as that scene is, he then flees the Nevada casino to instantly find a California Highway Patrol helicopter on his tail.
Still, the movie maintains a serious face throughout and stays remarkably engaging. Perhaps the most notable highlight is a fine dramatic performance by sharp tongued comedy legend Don Rickles as a shady carnival barker named Crane. Rickles was no stranger to dramatic acting having appeared in the WWII submarine classic “Run Silent Run Deep” and on numerous television shows prior to this. Here he has a solid sometimes menacing role that will be a treat for fans.
“X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” is available on EPIX On DEMAND through March 31.