Wednesday, October 26, 2011

HALLOWEENAGE #23: THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960)

No matter how you weigh it, THE HYPNOTIC EYE is quite a treat.  Remarkably brutal for 1960 (a full three years before BLOOD FEAST upped the ante), the film centers around a string of self-mutilations performed by beautiful girls.  Oh, those trendy and silly women, splashing their faces with sulfuric acid and using straight razors instead of lipstick!  We don't see it all, but we see enough and the lurid detail really shocks, given conventional wisdom about the bleedover period from the fifties into the sixties.


So you can probably guess that all of the self-mutilators have attended the same hypnosis show, starring the EU-accented Desmond.  If you're thinking that this sounds a lot like H.G. Lewis's WIZARD OF GORE, you are absolutely correct, although HYPNOTIC EYE is far more restrained and lacks the trademark Lewis boatloads of gore.  This movie has its own rewards, though.  I think I've mentioned how much I prefer whining German accents (like Kier's in BLOOD FOR DRACULA) over yelling ones.  Thanks to HYPNOTIC EYE, I've decided that I will pass on "you are getting sleeepy, sleepy" hypnotists for ones that bark orders and mock their subjects.  Desmond seems very impatient and constantly harangues the hypnotized to "Put your fingers together!  Try to do it!  Try harder!  You're not trying hard enough!  PUT YOUR FINGERS TOGETHER!!!"  I hope you also find this entertaining because at least ten minutes of the finale are devoted to it.


It doesn't stop being weird when Desmond leaves the screen.  There's a whole baffling section in the middle of the film devoted to mocking beatniks (perhaps culling inspiration from 1959's BUCKET OF BLOOD).  PS The beatnik who stands up and announces that, "I've just written a poem!" is Lawrence "King of the Beatniks" Lipton, FATHER OF JAMES "INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO" LIPTON.  


Guess who else is in this?  Allison Hayes from the original, good ATTACK OF THE 50-FOOT WOMAN!  And I'd mark this as her most queen-size performance, as her sneering portrayal of Desmond's wicked assistant is a major highlight of the film.  When he asks her how long they have to keep on doing [something, no spoiler], she says, "As long as there are faces like this" and it's like movie gold.  Also, there are lines that probably have very innocent explanations for the time, but which are very jarring now like, "She put her face into a ceiling fan because she thought it was a vibrator."  Uh.


It has mutilation + demanding hypnotist + bitch goddess Allison Hayes - boring stretches and ergo = worth a watch.  I would not mind more evil-hypnotist movies.  They have to be cheaper to make than even the cheapest vampire film because hypnotists don't sparkle or need fangs and really just need eyes, which most actors have.  A+++.

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