Few old-school horror flicks start off with better first scenes than 1960's campy "The Hypnotic Eye": A blonde beauty is washing her hair, and suddenly, the sink is an open flame on a gas-burning stove, and her lovely locks are ablaze! AAAAAIIIIIEEEEE!!!!!
Following an opening-credits sequence reminiscent of the great "Police Squad!" TV series, she's being interrogated in the hospital by the authorities: "You put your hair in the flame. Why?"
It seems she's the 11th and latest victim in a spate of hot women doing bad things to make themselves ugly for no discernible reason. Says one man, "I don't see how any can be worse than the one who drank the lye."
It takes detectives a while to put two and two together, being that all the unfortunate souls had recently participated in a hypnotism show by the great Desmond (Jacques Bergerac). He's truly mesmerizing to audiences (for us because of his hilariously thick French accent), planting suggestions in the minds of his va-va-voom volunteers that they carry out later on, doing harm to their otherwise pretty, porcelain selves, like turning their faces into what looks like bacon. That's what happens when you wash with acid! D'oh!
The scenes of Desmond doing his thing onstage must comprise about half the 78-minute film. I'm not complaining; they're entertaining as hell, even if they're clearly there for padding to a feature length. (Plus, that means less scenes like the one in a smoky club where we are subjected to a beatnik poem in its entirety.)
Making this kitschy "horror" film even more enjoyable is its attempt to appropriate a William Castle-esque gimmick. It involved balloons given out to theatergoers; you can play along at home if you wish, but be prepared to answer some serious questions should family members walk in on you.
"The Hypnotic Eye" is one of those mindless but harmless low-budget affairs that appeal to me like candy to a kindergartener. It aspires to do nothing more but entertain, and succeeds. OK, so it also aspires to educate, per the "warning" to viewers that closes the film, but I did learn something: that I loved it!
It's only available made-on-demand by Warner Archive, who've even remastered it into sharp-looking shape. You will order it ... you will order it ... you will order it ... "?Rod Lott