“Confessions of a movie addict or the holy barbarian blues.”
Women all over the city are mutilating themselves in horrific ways. All were beautiful women before their horrendous act. A woman holds her hair over a stove’s gas flame and sets her head on fire. Another, in attempting a facial massage puts her face into the blades of an electric fan. One woman uses a razor instead of a lipstick while another drinks lye instead of coffee. Eleven women and counting.
In the latest incident Detective Dave Kennedy (Joe Partridge) arrives on scene to investigate the woman burned from the gas stove fire. She is barely lucid. She can offer no explanation. She was unaware that she hung her head over the stove instead of the sink. As a matter of fact, none of the women were aware that they were not doing what they believed they were doing.
Coincidence? Absolutely not. But there is nothing in common with these women except their mutilations. Kennedy consults his psychiatrist friend Dr. Phillip Hecht (Guy Prescott) but he is of little help.
That night his girlfriend Marcia Blaine (Marcia Henderson) drags him to a stage hypnotist named Desmond (Jacques Bergerac) with Marcia’s friend Dodie Wilson (Merry Anders). Dodie is selected from the audience as a subject. After the performance she says she doesn’t recall anything that happened on stage. Marcia and Dave don’t believe her. Later that night, Dodie is getting ready for bed when she washes her face with acid. At the hospital she tells Dave and Marcia that she doesn’t understand what happened. She begs Dave to find out.
“Hypnotic Eye” was released in 1960 and was directed by George Blair. Gimmicks were stock in trade for a lot of horror and mystery movies in the 60’s. This one had a sign in theaters that stated there were free medical supplies available in the lobby should anyone need them and that nurses, doctors and undertakers are admitted free.
Although pretty to look at Bergerac is only marginal as an actor. That being said he is perfect as a stage hypnotist. A looong scene of the movie concerns the character Desmond looking directly at the camera as if it was an audience and performing his “hypnosis” routine. That whole section of the movie left me bored and itching to hit the fast forward button. It almost ruined the movie. “Hypnotic Eye” was made a year after “Horror of the Black Museum”, most likely as to capitalize on the hypnosis theme.
Joe Partridge was good, but his character Dave was an idiot. Not sure how he made detective. Not only was he obtuse about Desmond and hypnosis he also puts his girlfriend in jeopardy by putting her out as bait. Then he gets jealous. Desmond is not much better. Apparently the only way he can get dates is to hypnotize them.
Beside the character flaws there are some interesting camera angels, like in the opening sequence where the woman who burns her head in the stove flames is seen from looking up out through the flames. Another is looking up through a sink full of water and acid at a woman’s hands that are splashing the acid water on her face. The effect of both sequences is eerie. Scenes like those and the inventive ways to mutilate oneself brought the movie out of blah and into a quite decent horror movie.