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

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X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes is a 1963 Sci-Fi Horror film produced and directed by Roger Corman and starring Ray Milland, as well as Don Rickles in a rare non-comedic role.

Milland plays Dr. James Xavier, a man obsessed with expanding the range of human sight who resorts to experimenting on himself when his research is due to be defunded. His experiment works, and soon, he is able to see far outside the human spectrum, even through matter itself. The problem is, eventually he finds he cannot stop seeing...

This film exhibits the following tropes:

  • Accidental Murder: This is what sends Xavier on the run, accidentally knocking Dr. Brant out of a window, and certain that no one will believe him.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The preacher at the end alludes to the words of Jesus (found in Mark 9:47 and elsewhere): "If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out."
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: While not evil, Xavier's eyes turning black with gold irises demonstrates how inhuman his ability is making him.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: As Xavier continues using the x-ray eyedrops, his eyes begin changing color: at first, they're only gold irises on black, but by the end of the film, they're entirely black.
  • Blessed with Suck: As Dr. Xavier eventually finds out, uncontrollable X-Ray Vision is not good at all. By the final act, Xavier has constant headaches, can't sleep well because he sees right through his eyelids and by the final minutes he's seeing into the fabric of the universe itself (and he doesn't likes what he sees at all) and is in so much despair that he decides to rip out his eyes.
  • The Cameo: Dick Miller as a heckler.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: By Gold Key Comics.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: While "scientist performing experiment, makes him a monster" is a usual sci-fi plot, it's pretty obvious that there's a lot of parallels with drug abuse in Xavier's road to ruin.
  • Eldritch Abomination: In the end, Xavier sees so much that he can perceive "the eye in the center of the universe" that "sees all". The preacher interprets his vision as Satan.
  • Eye Scream: At the end of the film, Xavier blinds himself to stop seeing so much. His empty sockets are the final shot of the film.
  • The Freakshow: After going on the run, Xavier becomes an attraction in a sideshow as Mentallo, using his x-ray vision to be able to see the contents of the envelopes held by the audience.
  • From Bad to Worse: From theoretical physicist and beloved doctor, to being fired for malpractice when he pulls off a Cowboy Cop act in the surgical room to prevent a doctor from hurting a little girl with his misdiagnosis, to accidental murderer forced to go on the run, to working as a carnival freak to get some money, to being forced to become a Back-Alley Doctor via blackmail... and this is not even the worst of it.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Xavier grows increasingly erratic over the course of the movie, mostly for mundane reasons of sensory overload and the stress of being a fugitive. But at the end, when he sees the "eye in the center of the universe", it unhinges him enough to gouge out his own eyes.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Xavier's serum ends up working too well. Also, Xavier decides to rip his eyes out when he stumbles into a revival meeting in the last two minutes of the film and the preacher hollers to the crowd to "rip out that which does you harm!" They definitely did not expect that.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The final shot of the film is Xavier's bloody eye sockets after he has blinded himself.
  • Inhuman Eye Concealers: As Dr. Xavier continues taking the X-Ray Vision eyedrops, his eyes begin to deform. By the halfway mark, he's forced to wear heavy wraparound shades, both to shield himself from the Sensory Overload and to conceal his unearthly Supernatural Gold Eyes. In the end, he's degenerated into full-blown Black Eyes of Evil and deprived of his shades, forcing him to walk around with his eyes clenched shut — which he can manage because he can see through his own eyelids.
  • Let X Be the Unknown: The "X" in the title has several meanings: It refers to the protagonist's name, Xavier, doubles the reference to X-rays (which are already an example of this trope), and suggests the unknown powers unleashed by Xavier's experiment.
  • Mundane Utility: Xavier uses his power to see through matter to spot medical problems, to peep at women, and to cheat at cards.
  • Naked People Are Funny: One of the few moments of levity in the film is Xavier going to a party and seeing everybody in it naked because of his X-Ray Vision.
  • Paranormal Gambling Advantage: Xavier uses his abilities to clean up at the blackjack table. Turns out it's easy to win if you always know what card is next. However, he's far too obvious (to the point of calling out the next card before it's flipped) and he gets kicked out by security.
  • Power Incontinence: The problem with Xavier's x-ray vision is that it can't be shut off and it only becomes stronger over time. It gets to the point where there is literally nothing in the universe he can't see through.
  • Power Perversion Potential: When Xavier is invited to a party for medical personnel, he starts seeing past everyone's clothes, and he's clearly enjoying watching.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Dr. Xavier is the first (and only) human subject of his experiment.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Near the end of the film, after one too many doses of the drops, Xavier's eyes turn gold and black.
  • X-Ray Vision: This is the primary manifestation of Xavier's powers in the film. He uses it as a doctor, as a voyeur, and to cheat at cards. Eventually, he finds it hard to navigate the world because he can no longer control it, and he cannot see what is in front of him without special glasses.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: When Xavier does a Cowboy Cop act to prevent a fellow physician from hurting (or maybe killing) a little girl by operating on the wrong spot, the man immediately tells Xavier after the operation is over that he will have him sued for malpractice.