THE HYPNOTIC EYE. Allied Artists, 1960. Jacques Bergerac, Merry Anders, Marcia Henderson, Allison Hayes, Joe Patridge, Guy Prescott, Jimmy Lydon… and Lawrence Lipton, “King of the Beatniks.” Written by Gitta & William Read Woodfield. Directed by George Blair.

   An agreeably hokey B-movie aimed at the degenerate kiddie trade. There’s a disturbing edge of misogyny, as raw and discomfiting as anything in Fuller or Franju, but the sheer naïve showmanship carries it through—mostly.

   Let’s get the nastiness out of the way first. Eye opens with a woman mutilating herself, and there’s another similar scene later on. This should be enough to disqualify it from any meaningful discussion, but I recall vividly that this movie was marketed to kids my age, and we lapped it up with the unconcern of children.

   Moving right along then, it’s perfectly obvious to everyone but the cops (Joe Patrick and Guy Prescott, who does a rather effective job as a Police Psychiatrist) that the women are under the influence of some diabolical mind control, engineered by creepy stage hypnotist Jacques Bergerac, with some unsettling input from his lovely assistant, the ubiquitous Allison Hayes, who was literally a towering presence in the trashy movies of her day.

   The police do their usual plodding best, assisted at first by Marcia Henderson, until she too falls under Bergerac’s spell, leading to a steamy sequence (literally) where Ms Hayes tries to get her under a shower of scalding water.

   There are some major continuity gaps here. The detective watching Marcia from the curb outside her house finally goes in and confronts Hayes, but in a lengthy scene in the house, he doesn’t recognize her, despite having seen her on stage. Then later, when the cops go back to check on her, Marcia is living in an apartment!

   It all ends in an effective and highly theatrical set-to on stage in a packed theatre, but along the way there are a couple of amusing detours: First a nightclub scene where Lawrence Lipton, “King of the Beatniks” recites Beat Poetry, including the immortal line, “I saw ‘Charley’s Aunt’ in the original uncut version.”

   Then towards the end there’s a moment where the movie breaks the fourth wall, as Bergerac looks straight into the camera and hypnotizes his audience, blurring the line between film and real life in much the same manner as William Castle did in The Tingler.

   This sequence was quite a hoot in theaters, but its effect seems somewhat diminished on TV. I don’t remember much about it, but I awoke the next morning convinced that Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.