Hypnotic, Eye, The (1960): George Blair’s Horror Thriller, Starring Jacques Bergerac

From the Archives

The Hypnotic Eye (1960) is a horror film starring Jacques Bergerac, Allison Hayes, Merry Anders, Eric “Big Daddy” Nord, and Ferdinand Demara.

Bergerac plays the mysterious hypnotist Desmond, who comes to town to present his act, just as a series of women gruesomely disfigure themselves, apparently while in trance.

A local doctor and a detective then try to find the reason.

Bergerac, known for his role in Minnelli’s Oscar winning Gigi, was the former husband of Ginger Rogers, Dorothy Malone, and Hayes. He had just starred in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), which later became a cult movie.

The film’s consultant for the hypnosis was Gil Boyne, who founded the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners and the Hypnotism Training Institute in California. Gil also performed live shows between screenings at the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco and promoted the movie on TV talk shows performing live hypnosis demonstrations.

The movie is visually striking. The “Hypnomagic” part of the film was not a process like 3D. “Hypnomagic” was advertised as “Amazing New Audience Thrill” and although new to film was a much more organic and time tested approach than 3D. “Hypnomagic” featured the Bergerac character performing segments, where he looks directly into the camera (thus the audience) and performs  hypnotic suggestibility tests. One test presented involved the use of balloon with eye printed on it. When the film was in theaters, each member received eye balloon to use during the demonstration.

There is a scene where a lady in a trance state thinks her stove is her sink and washes her hair in the stove, leading to horrific burns and disfigurement. In the 1960s the Kodak film company, using cutting edge process made a lenticular photograph out of it. Moving the photo up and down the girls head would catch on fire. The photo was the size of business card and, used as  giveaway to buyers to spotlight the new photo process that the Kodak company was promoting.

Cast
Jacques Bergerac as Desmond
Allison Hayes as Justine
Marcia Henderson as Marcia Blaine
Merry Anders as Dodie Wilson
Joe Patridge as Det. Sgt. Dave Kennedy
Guy Prescott as Dr. Philip Hecht
Fred Demara as Hospital Doctor
Jimmy Lydon as Emergency Doctor
Lawrence Lipton as King of the Beatniks

Credits:

Directed by George Blair
Written by Gitta Woodfield, William Read Woodfield
Produced by Charles B. Bloch, Ben Schwalb Birchwood
Cinematography Archie R. Dalzell
Edited by William Austin
Music by Marlin Skiles
Production company: Allied Artists
Distributed by Allied Artists Pictures
Release date: February 27, 1960
Running time 79 minutes
Budget $365,000

Note:

TCM showed the movie on Sep 17, 2021.