THE HYPNOTIC EYE
The most captivating and fascinating aspect of the film is the hypnotist played by Jacques Bergerac. Bergerac was a French actor who had played a small number of roles both in France and the US but was most famous at the time the film was made for having married Ginger Rogers. Bergerac plays the part with an accent and vocal intonation that has been closely modelled on Bela Lugosi (and is clearly intended to represent the same threat of the charming but sinister European seducer that Lugosi embodied). Bergerac has an intensely captivating presence whenever we see him on stage something that is undeniably aided by the artful employment of shadow underlighting. What kind of takes you back after seeing other real-life stage hypnotists is how much of his act seems based around domineering and shouting orders at his subjects. The scene where he hypnotises Merry Anders and then appears to levitate her is particularly riveting.
The film becomes even more fascinating after the point where Jacques Bergerac hypnotises Marcia Henderson and then takes her out on a date and starts making out with her. After she goes back to her apartment, Bergeracs assistant Allison Hayes abruptly enters and tries to command the still hypnotised Henderson to step into a scalding shower, only to be interrupted when Joe Patridge comes to the door whereupon Hayes commands Henderson to make up a story about her being a school roommate. The exact nature of the scheme that Hayes and Bergerac are engaged in is never made clear [PLOT SPOILERS] it is revealed that Hayes is disfigured and is taking revenge against other women that she sees as beautiful. So why is Bergerac hypnotising the women for her? Is it a jealousy motive where she is disfiguring the women he seduces after having placed them under the influence? If so, why does he go along with allowing his dates to be attacked and mutilated? His exact complicity in her revenge doesnt make a whole lot of sense. The film ends with a scene where Jacques Bergerac hypnotises his entire audience and then in an amusing fourth-wall breaking gag turns to the camera to tell people that this sort of thing should not be conducted by unlicensed non-professionals.
The film features Allison Hayes who developed a minor cult as an actress in a number of B horror films during this period with the likes of The Disembodied (1957), The Undead (1957), The Unearthly (1957), Zombies of Mora Tau (1957) and in particular as the title role in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958). This may well have been one of Hayess best roles where she is given maximum opportunity to look calculating and malicious. As essentially the lead, Joe Patridge only manages to come across as intolerant. You cant have a lot of respect for the hero in a film where it is made obvious from the very title the reason why the women are mutilating themselves and if not that then the sinister effect surrounding Jacques Bergerac whenever we meet him but it takes him more than three-quarters of the story to get past ridiculing the efficacy of hypnotism and make a connection about what is going on. Not to mention that he seems so oblivious that he is not in the slightest concerned when after going to visit Bergeracs hypnotist, his girlfriend suddenly announces that she is going on a date with Bergerac.
Director George Blair had made numerous B thrillers and Westerns during the 1940s. His other genre entries include:- the ghost comedy The Ghost Goes Wild (1947); the jungle adventures Daughter of the Jungle (1949) and Perils of the Jungle (1953); the fantasy adventure Sabu and the Magic Ring (1957); and the Bowery Boys Old Dark House film Spook Chasers (1957). Blair also directed numerous episodes of tvs The Adventures of Superman (1953-8) and is credited as director on all of the five theatrical films that were repackaged from these.
Opening shampoo over the gas oven scene here:-