“We are virtually blind — all of us.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
… to the ethical dilemma he faces when he knows without a doubt that his medical colleague’s diagnosis of a patient is wrong:
… to the (perhaps) inevitable downward spiral of a man who has so clearly become a “freak” of nature (albeit a self-created one) — and by the end, it manages to argue that a man who can see “everything” may have access to universal secrets best left untapped.
With that said, in many ways the film is typically low-budget Roger Corman fare — though it should be noted that his budget and the production values are clearly higher than what he was working with for his more outrageously campy earlier sci-fi outings in the ’50s. The special effects are occasionally laughably cheap (i.e., when Milland sees through flesh to drawings of people’s innards), but at other times are remarkably chilling — most notably the final physical transformations that take place in Milland’s eyes.
And while there’s a smattering of awkwardly handled dramatic moments (c.f. the pivotal “murder” scene that drives Milland underground, or Milland’s tentative flirtations with his colleague, Diana van der Vlis), other scenes hit surprisingly hard — such as Milland’s interactions with Don Rickles as a manipulative carnival manager who recognizes Milland as a lucrative cash cow.
Note: Milland gives a believably tortured performance here as the fatally obsessed title character, perhaps his best since his Oscar-winning role in The Lost Weekend (1945) nearly 20 years earlier.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: