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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes
X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes
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Review by Adam Tyner | posted June 11, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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MGM gets a lot of flack on Internet discussion boards for the inconsistent quality of their releases, and although such concerns aren't entirely unfounded, MGM is a company dear to my heart. Their Midnite Movies line in particular offers wildly entertaining movies at bargain-basement prices, generally with decent, if unremarkable, anamorphic transfers when applicable. In the latest batch from the MGM factory is the 1963 sci-fi classic "X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes", by far the best film you're likely to find with 'directed by Roger Corman' in barely visible letters on the poster art.

Academy Award winner and AIP mainstay Ray Milland stars as Dr. James Xavier, and as you can probably guess from his last name, the good doctor is destined to become X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes. Dr. Xavier (heretoforth referred to as 'X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes') has developed the X-Formula, a concoction that promises to give mankind the ability to reach far outside the limited spectrum our eyes can perceive. A demonstration for the beautiful liason for the foundation funding his research goes awry, leaving one dead monkey and some suitably unimpressed checkwriters. X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes starts to use the X-drops himself, but before he can develop the formula any further, his financial backers drop out. X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes is consoled at a party attended by an alarming number of stiff dancers, where he discovers his ability to see women's bare backs. As you might expect, X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes starts to go a little nutty, offering unsolicited assistance in some open heart surgery by an incompetent surgeon, and his best buddy takes the fall (snickers) when X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes accidentally knocks him out a window. Oops. X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes hops from a carnival sideshow act to Sin City, putting his ocular endowments to financial gain, though his powers quickly spiral out of control. What does a man do when he can see through everything, including his own eyelids? If you've ever pondered this question late at night, refusing to turn on AMC to find the answer, here is your opportunity.

"X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes" is a much better movie than its goofy title might suggest, offering far more than its "so bad, it's good" brethren. The acting, particularly from star Milland and a surprisingly menacing Don Rickles, is first-rate. The dialogue and pacing are light years ahead of most Corman flicks, and the zero-budget special effects hold up surprisingly well after all these years. Though not the sort of schlock synonymous with MGM's Midnite Movies line, "X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes" is perfect late-night viewing, and it seems to hold up better to repeat viewings than similar movies that I watch once and shelve.

Video: "X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes" is presented at 1.85:1 and is enhanced for widescreen televisions. Considering that "X" was shot for a few hundred thousand dollars nearly forty years ago, this disc looks quite nice. Print flaws are nowhere to be found, and dust and assorted specks are, with very few exceptions, barely noticeable. The stock footage and some of the effects shots are a little on the rough side, but that's hardly unexpected, and these segments probably didn't look significantly better on the silver screen. Light grain is present throughout, though it is not particularly distracting and seems in keeping with the far-from-top-grade film stock used. Colors and black levels are both solid, and the image is crisp and clear. Detail seems to vary slightly, but it's generally very strong. "X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes" is a first-class effort from MGM, and the transfer exceeded my expectations for an older microbudget title.

Audio: The dialogue in the mono track is clear and easy to discern, though the music used throughout sounds a little flat and dated. I would've preferred for Dolby Digital 2.0 mono instead of having the entire soundtrack squawk out of my center speaker, but what we're presented with is absolutely fine, though not extraordinarily impressive.

Supplements: The highlight of this disc is the feature-length commentary with the producer / director of "X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes", the legendary Roger Corman. Though he speaks somewhat slowly and occasionally falls into the trap of watching the movie instead of talking about it, Corman offers an extensive amount of information on every facet of production, ranging from casting to development of the script to musical concepts to the production of independent films so many decades ago. For those curious about what he has to say about the long-rumored excised final line, Corman seems unsure if it was shot or not. Though not exuberant or particularly chatty, Corman's commentary is wonderful and very much worth a listen. Also included is a four-minute prologue on the senses that plays more like educational short fodder for MST3K than something preceding a sci-fi film. A two minute trailer is also included, and both the trailer and the prologue are anamorphic as well.

Conclusion: "X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes" is absolutely worth a purchase for anyone with even the faintest interest in early '60s sci-fi cinema, and this would make an excellent double feature with "The Thing With Two Heads", a similarly priced Midnite Movies entry starring Ray Milland that also hits stores this week. The very respectable presentation, an excellent commentary, and its dirt-cheap $15 MSRP make "X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes" an easy disc to recommend. Highly Recommended.

Random Note: While watching "X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes", I couldn't help but think back to an episode of an anthology series that was stuck in my mind for years afterwards. Some pain-staking research (as in, 3 seconds searching Google) revealed it was an episode of the New Twilight Zone series. In "The Leprechaun Artist", three kids catch a leprechaun, and each of them has a single wish granted. One of the children wished for x-ray vision, resulting in a very condensed version of this film, minus the grisly ending.

An Even More Random Note: This is my 150th review for DVD Talk. So, you know where to direct all the hate mail.
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