Written by: Carroll Jenkins on October 29th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1960
Director: George Blair
Writers: Gitta Woodfield, William Read Woodfield
Cast: Jacques Bergerac, Allison Hayes, Marcia Henderson, Merry Anders, Joe Patridge, Guy Prescott, Dr. Philip Hecht, Fred Demara, Jimmy Lydon, Lawrence Lipton
DVD released: October 12th, 2010
Approximate running time: 79 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Warner Archive
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Synopsis: A stage hypnotist selects only the most beautiful young ladies for his grand finale. Concurrently there is a rash of women disfiguring their faces through various shocking methods.
Jacques Bergerac, featured as the hypnotist, is portrayed as a compulsive ladies man, despite the overbearing possessiveness of his assistant, Allison Hayes. Allison is best known today from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, while Jacques did mostly television, including French Freddy the Fence on ‘Batman’. Director George Blair had just finished a steady gig as a director on ‘The Adventures Of Superman’ two years earlier.
The Hypnotic Eye is a bit ‘stage bound’ at times, especially during Desmond’s performances [on a stage, naturally], but it contains a plethora of shocking images and sleazy ambiance. Sort of a blend of gritty, violent noir (Kiss Me, Deadly) with William Castle gimmick flicks (House On Haunted Hill). The gimmick, in this case, is the pulsing neon eye mechanism that Desmond uses to flash-hypnotize his subjects, at one point including the entire audience. Close-ups of this device provide some quite affective special effects, especially as presented in widescreen. Equally effective are close-ups of women with their faces burned, scalded, blinded, cut, and bandaged. One victim isn’t disfigured, but drank a cup of lye thinking it was coffee, and doesn’t have much to say. Funny thing is, they can’t remember anything about the incidents.
This is one of the new ‘Remastered Edition’ series of Warner Brothers Archives Collection DVDR releases. Unlike the regular series, this was newly transferred from the best source available from the WB film vault. And it looks gorgeous. There are some noirish shots and sleazy settings that could not be fully appreciated without the excellent widescreen 1:85 presentation. The only extras are 23 chapter stops (no selection menu).
This is a surprisingly good detective mystery that maintains interest throughout, but it’s the exploitation that makes it work. Gotta love the beat poem, “Confessions of a B-movie Addict”, for telling the audience exactly where they stand, Daddy-O.