The Hypnotic Eye (1960)

USA, 1960
35mm film, black and white
mono (Westrex Recording System), English

An American horror film directed by George Blair. Production began on 10 September 1959. Along with Jack the Ripper (1958) the film was (briefly) banned by the local censor board in Memphis until they were told by city attorney Frank Gianotti that they had no right to ban them and were forced to back down 1Variety 24 February 1960 p.5

Plot Summary

A stage hypnotist comes under suspicion when the police investigate a series of deaths of young women who have mutilated themselves in the most horrible ways.

Credits

Crew
Directed by: George Blair
© MCMLX [1960] by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation
A Bloch-Woodfield production
Executive Producer: Ben Schwalb
Produced by: Charles B. Bloch
Production Manager: Edward Morey Jr
Written by: Gitta and William Read Woodfield
Assistant Director: Ray Gosnell Jr
Set Continuity: Virginia Barth
Director of Photography: Archie Dalzell
Film Editor: William Austin
Music Composed by: Marlin Skiles
Music Editor: Eve Newman
Recording Engineering: Ralph Butler
Sound Editor: Marty Greco
Wardrobe: Roger J. Weinberg
Make-up Artist: Emile Lavigne
Special Effects: Milt Olsen
Art Director: David Milton
Set Decorator: Frank Wade
Property: Arden Cripe
Construction Supervisor: James West
Hypnotic Technical Advisor: Gil Boyne

Cast
Jacques Bergerac (The Great Desmond)
Merry Anders (Dodie Wilson)
Marcia Henderson (Marcia Blane)
Allison Hayes (Justine)
Joe Partridge (Dave Kennedy)
Fred Demara (the great impostor)
Lawrence Lipton (beatnik poet laureate)
Eric “Big Daddy” Nord (king of the beatniks)
Guy Prescott (Dr Hecht)
Jimmy Lydon (emergency doctor)
Carol Thurston (Doris Scott)
Eva Lynd

Alternative Titles

Die 13 Opfer des Dr. Desmond – Austria, West Germany
Hypnoottinen silmä – Finland
Mavri mageia kai stiletto – Greece
L’occhio ipnotico – Italy
El ojo diabólico – Mexico
Olho Diabólico – Brazil
The Torturer! – alternative title

Extracts included in
Fantastic Fantasy Fright-o-Rama Show Vol.1 (1996)
Fly Papers, The: The Buzz on Hollywood’s Scariest Insect (2000)
It Came from Hollywood (1982)

Press

1960

Variety 20 January 1960 p.6
The Hypnotic Eye is a horror film with a built-in exploitation gimmick which may be somewhat dangerous: The supposed hypnotist on the screen tries, during a special sequence, to hypnotize the audience. Questions of ethics and taste ignored the gimmick may see the film to good b.o. The “hypnotist” is only an actor (Jacques Bergerac) and the stunts attempted with the audience are apparently harmless. However, since Bergerac is convincing and since his role in the rest of the melodrama is that of a stage hypnotist who lures beautiful women into mutilating themselves, a highly suggestible minority conceivably could be adversely affected. […] The handsome hypnotist’s cooperation in the gruesome venture is never explained, but that’s only one of myriad holes in the script. The acting is of good quality throughout. Value is added by Fred Demara, much-publicized imposter, portraying a doctor, and by a beatnik scene featuring Lawrence Lipton reciting an original poem. Technical aspects are up to standard. The film’s “psychiatrist” at one point is caused to advise the audience never to allow itself to be hypnotized for entertainment purposes – “not even in a movie.” It’s advice which should have been unnecessary. – from a review by Glen

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.27 no.318 (July 1960) p.99
The opening is wild enough to cause nightmares, but the impact soon subsides and the main gimmick becomes a hypnotism demonstration, apparently designed for audience participation, complete with “hypnotic eye” stunt. The synopsis promises “King of the Beatniks” Lawrence Lipton’s recital of an “original poem”, accompanied by Eric (Big Daddy) Nord on the bongo drums. This might well have been the most rewarding aspect of this generally confused and shaky horror film, but the aforesaid recital appears to have been lost in crossing the Atlantic.”

References

Periodicals

  • Castle of Frankenstein no.10 p.44
  • The Daily Cinema no.8305 (13 May 1960) p.3 – review
  • Fangoria no.195 (August 2000) pp.67-70, 82 – illustrated interview with William Read Woodfield (Stare into The Hypnotic Eye by Tom Weaver)
  • The Film Daily vol.117 no.29 (11 February 1960) p.8 – review
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.158 no.28 (20 January 1960) p.3 – review
  • Kine Weekly n2745 (12 May 1960) p.24 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.27 no.318 (July 1960) p.99 – review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.218 no.3 (23 January 1960) p.564 – review
  • Variety 20 January 1960 p.6 – credits, review (by Glen)
  • Variety 24 February 1960 p.5 – note (Memphis censors’ nervous indecisions)

Books

  • The Allied Artists Checklist by Len D. Martin p.68 – credits, synopsis, note
  • Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.209 – credits
  • Sixties Shockers by Mark Clark and Bryan Senn pp.229-230