(director: George Blair; screenwriters: Gitta & William Read Woodfield; cinematographer: Archie Dalzell; editor: William Austin; music: Martin Skiles; cast: Jacques Bergerac (Desmond’), Merry Anders (Dodi Wilson ), Guy Prescott (Dr. Phil Hecht), Marcia Henderson (Marcia Blane), Joe Patridge (Det. Sgt. Dave Kennedy), Allison Hayes (Justine), Jimmy Lydon (Emergency Medic), Lawrence Lipton (Beatnik poet), Eric “Big Daddy” Nord (Beatnik bongo player), Fred Demara (Doctor The Great Imposter); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Charles B. Block; Warner Archive Collection; 1960)
An unattractive whacky “gimmick” horror movie aping the William Castle tradition.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An unattractive whacky “gimmick” horror movie aping the William Castle tradition. Magazine photographer and TV writer William Read Woodfieldwas mesmerized one night while driving along the desert highway of California’s Death Valley by the white median line and created from this experience a thriller that defies credibility but unintentionally is as funny as hell. George Blair (“Superman in Exile”/”Jaguar”/”Spook Chasers”) ineffectively directs while Gitta Woodfield co-authors the script with her brother William. The studio marketed the schlock low-budget thriller as shot in “HypnoMagic,” and had the gall to suggest it was a public service film warning moviegoers that just by staring at their toy hypnotic device they could go into a trance and mistakenly think this stinker was a great film. Thereby they advised viewers to only be hypnotized by a medical doctor and not by anyone without proper credentials who might be an unscrupulous practitioner.

Detective Sgt. Dave Kennedy (Joe Patridge) investigates the 11th beautiful female vic who inexplicably mutilates herself, and is puzzled when all the vics can’t explain why. In the latest incident the vic puts her head on a lit gas stove’s burner, causing her hair to catch fire and her face to be badly scarred. Other vics inexplicably mutilated themselves on such things as an electric fan, a razor, or by gulping down lye. The not too swift detective consults police psychologist Dr. Phil Hecht (Guy Prescott), no Freud brain but considerably smarter than Dave because he smokes a pipe. The scientist is also clueless but more open to hypnotism being a cause of the self-mutilations than Dave, a cynic and disbeliever in hypnotism.

One night Dr. Phil takes in the hypnosis show of the Great Desmond (Jacques Bergerac, Ginger Rogers’ ex), a suave showman, with Dave and Dave’s girlfriend Marcia Blane (Marcia Henderson) and Marcia’s attractive 23-year-old secretary girlfriend Dodi Wilson (Merry Anders). For some reason Dodi volunteers to be hypnotized onstage with other females from the audience. Later that night Dodi washes her face with sulfuric acid, but when hospitalized doesn’t know why she acted so strangely and can’t even remember that she was hypnotized. Marcia volunteers to act as bait to catch the culprit and attends alone Desmond’s next show, where she’s discreetly chosen by Desmond’s beautiful stage assistant Justine (Allison Hayes, star of the Attack of the 50Ft. Woman) to be put in a trance onstage. It’s now up to the two dumb cops to save Marcia from scalding herself with boiling hot water and figure out what the two perverted lover hypnotists are up to.

The cheesy story is full of holes and the acting is rancid. It becomes indigestible when the hypnotist’s secret device (a strobe light shining on an eye) is revealed in the third act as the hypnotic device used by Desmond. We also find out the reason for the insane attacks from one of the perps. When the crappy explanation is given, you can only wish the pic had more to offer than its abysmally ridiculous disfigured climax sequence and the unintentional laughs it earned throughout with such a daffy story.

REVIEWED ON 10/21/2013 GRADE: C+