Sunday, 25 October 2015

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes Film Review

Fig. 1. X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes.

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963) is a science fiction/thriller film that is directed by Roger Corman who is known as a director that often creates low budget sci-fi/horror films in homage to the bigger budget ones. The film tells the story of a doctor that develops a unique eye drop that allows the user to have x-ray vision, but this great power has even greater consequences.

The purpose of this review is to discuss what makes this film a B-Movie and what is positive in the film still to this day. The plot for one is ridiculous; this is a well-known attribute of a B-Movie. The plot consists of a doctor creating eye drops that give the user x-ray vision, it involves him murdering a co-worker and exposing his powers (multiple times) which gets him in trouble. The plot has no clear goal, the eyes drops are already created when we start the film and there is no information on how they were invented and only a brief reason as to why he created them. The main character Dr. James Xavier is painful to watch as he goes through the story, just when you think he might be successful he decides to expose himself and ends up on a wild police chase. Even the ending is abrupt, it ends very quickly with no clear resolve to the story, in this sense it can be quite frustrating to watch.

Fig. 2. Dr. Xavier still.

The dialogue was often quite cheesy throughout the film; in one scene for example Dr. Xavier is talking with his colleague, his colleague says ‘My dear friend, only the gods see everything.’ To which Dr. Xavier replies ‘My dear doctor, I’m closing in on the gods.’ It is possible that the ridiculous plot generates the cheesy dialogue; they both go hand in hand to create a film that is easy to watch. The actors play their role pretty well; they are mostly convincing and make the film more enjoyable even though the dialogue is sometimes sickening. This is a pretty positive part of the film; the acting is quite convincing which makes it more enjoyable to watch.

The effects throughout the film are relatively good, although it is clear at some points that they had a smaller budget which is a known trait of B-Movies. The film uses some interesting techniques to show the effect of X-Ray vision, in one scene the main character looks through a building, the effect was created by recording a building being built in a time-lapse and then played in reverse. It seems that the effects overall are a positive feature of the film, especially for its time. It is also clear that the main focus of the film is the effects, which makes up for the lack of a strong plot.

Another positive feature could be the fact that the sci-fi film doesn’t resort to a monster story which means it isn’t trying to have a giant destructive creature as the driving point. It uses the eye drops and the power it grants as the focal point, which in a way gives the story a more relatable and slightly more realistic feel to it, this is also greatly achieved in the environment and costume design as it all feels authentic.

Overall the film was very easy to watch, it didn’t require much thought to get through and the effects were a strong positive. Although the film lacked in a solid plot, the film is still successful at portraying the concept of X-Ray vision in the life of a doctor, it is a very redeeming fact that the doctor didn’t suddenly become a hero because of his powers. Even with its small budget, the film is quite successful and it would be interesting for it to be made now with the use of CGI, perhaps with a slightly altered story.

Illustration List:
Corman, R. (1963). Figure 1. X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes poster.  (Accessed on 25/10/2015)

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