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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 5/21/01

X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes
1963 (2001) - American International Pictures (MGM)

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B+/B+

Specs and Features

79 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, single-layered, audio commentary by producer/director Roger Corman, original theatrical prologue, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

"Said Matthew in Chapter 5... If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out!"

Academy Award winner Ray Milland plays Dr. Xavier, a medical researcher who's working on a serum that will open up the spectrum of possible human sight. According to his math, at the point we're at now as a species, we're only seeing about 10 percent of what we're capable of. But what if we could tap the other 90 percent? What's out there waiting to be seen? After his test monkey dies of a heart attack, Xavier decides to use himself as his newest test subject, so that he can personally find out what's waiting for us outside the realm of normal human sight. From seeing through paper, to seeing through clothes, Xavier at first finds his new powers charming. But when he starts to see through flesh, then metal and, eventually, through the cosmos itself, his mind begins to snap. When you can't sleep because you can see through your shut eyelids and into the night sky and directly at the sun, can the mortal mind truly handle that?

X is one of the cooler Sci-Fi films out there. It's probably the best film out of the AIP library and it's the best thing Roger Corman ever had a hand in getting made. It's pretty dated by today's technical standards, but the intelligence of the idea is what propels it past kitsch and into the realm of classic. Roger Corman never spoke down to genre fans, and, although he's was limited by budget and time, he was always able to give fans what they wanted. A few years back, Tim Burton had X on his plate for re-making. I think that would be a very cool film project, especially with Burton's sensibilities. Hopefully, Planet of the Apes didn't kill the project (causing Burton not to want to do re-makes anymore).

On DVD, X gets very respectable treatment from MGM. We're given a nice anamorphic transfer that preserves the film very nicely for home viewing. The colors are dense, blacks are solid and detail is quite good. The print exhibits a few flaws here and there, but it's a really nice showing overall. The sound is mono, but comes across very well for what it is. Extras include an interesting prologue sequence (that was attached to the original theatrical showings of the film). It plays like an old school film strip about the five senses, except it has a nicely dark tone to it. In terms of video features, you'll also find the original theatrical trailer. But the big extra on board is a very informative and thoroughly enjoyable commentary track with Corman himself. He spends his time going into the writing process, the casting and effects used in the film. All in all, this DVD is a nice little package for a classic, B-grade Sci-Fi flick.

I was pretty excited when I heard X was coming to DVD, and I'm thankful that MGM has treated it with respect instead of just dumping it. This way, we get to see it and hear it presented the way it should be.

Todd Doogan

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