Thursday, March 12, 2009

Announced: Man With the X-Ray Eyes remake

One of the most memorable (if not the best) of B-film godfather Roger Corman's output has always been, for me, X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes (US-1963; dir. Roger Corman). I remember seeing it in my youth and being fascinated, and then awed, as the film escalated into a world of macrocosmic awesomeness with pulp metaphysics taking over from its more visceral elements. That's always the way -- it's the implications that give the most potent of horror films their ongoing resonance.

Okay, The Man With the X-Ray Eyes is pulp and probably not one of the world's great films, but by god it worked! The final scene, in which Raymond Milland's character, Dr Xavier, takes the only course left open to him, this side of madness, was, and still is, extraordinarily powerful.

"If thy eye offend thee, rip it out!"


Dr James Xavier is a world renowned scientist experimenting with human eyesight. He devises a drug, that when applied to the eyes, enables the user to see beyond the normal realm of our sight (ultraviolet rays, etc.) it also gives the user the power to see through objects. Xavier tests this drug on himself, when his funding is cut off. As he continues to test the drug on himself, Xavier begins to see, not only through clothes and walls, but through the very fabric of reality! (IMDb)

Now Variety has announced that The Man With the X-Ray Eyes is about to undergo the current remake treatment. To be directed by Spanish filmmaker Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (who was responsible for 28 Weeks Later), this new project could be a winner, as for all Corman's virtues his films did suffer somewhat from their tiny budgets and inevitably miniscule production schedules.

If Fresnadillo can avoid the dual problems of so many of the current crop of remakes -- (1) a cast too young for the roles assigned them, so that their portrayals lack needed authority, and (2) an over-indulgence of CGI spectacle that suggests a failure to rightly evaluate what the film needs rather than what the producers perceive (usually incorrectly) the audience wants -- this could result in a very effective film. But he's got to get the escalation/deterioration paced correctly and the metaphysics imagined with due respect for what is awesome rather than simply spectacular.

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