Thursday, December 1, 2011
“In this house, you’ve got to believe what you can’t see.”
Read/Watch ‘em in order #7: The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944)
Robert Griffith returns to England after spending years in a Capetown insane asylum, determined to take vengeance on the family he thinks once cheated him.
But his plans seem to go awry until he stumbles across the cabin of a mad scientist—a fellow who has developed an invisibility serum and is anxious to try it out on a human. (He’s already made an invisible dog and an invisible parrot.)
The title character is played by Jon Hall, who portrayed the invisible spy in the previous entry in the series. But this time he’s no hero, but rather a madman who has already committed a couple of murders before the movie even begins.
So he doesn’t need an invisibility serum to send him to crazy-town. He’s already there.
This is probably the weakest of the series. It’s a little slow-moving for a B-movie, taking a good 20 minutes to set up the plot and get to the invisibility stuff. (That’s a pretty big chunk of a 78-minute movie.) Remember that the first two movies started with the main characters already invisible, while Invisible Agent had a suspenseful encounter with fascist agents to set up the story. Revenge just has a lot of conversation. The dialogue is perfectly well-constructed, but an element of danger or excitement wouldn’t have hurt.
Still, it’s a fun movie. John P. Fulton’s special effects continue to be remarkable. A shot in which Griffith splashes water on his face, making his face and his hand partially visible, is perhaps the creepiest moment in the series.
Jon Hall does a solid job of playing a unpredictable psychotic. John Carradine gives a classy performance as the scientist, continuing his long and honorable connection with the Universal Monster universe. (He was one of the hunters that found Frankenstein’s monster hanging out with the blind hermit in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and he’d take over the role of Dracula for two movies in 1945.)
But IS this movie a part of the mainstream Universal Monster universe? The main character is named Griffith, but there’s no indication that he’s related to the original invisible man. And he doesn’t use the same formula—Carradine’s Dr. Drury creates a serum on his own.
This races a vitally important question. Is this movie a part of the same continuity as the rest of the monsters and the other invisible man films, or does it exist in its own separate little universe?
Why is this question so important? Well, because…. because…
Well, because it just IS. If you have to ask, you’re probably reading the wrong blog. Heck, this is an issue we’ve dealt with herein the past.
Of course, it’s possible that Carradine simply creates an invisibility serum independent of the one created by Jack Griffith. And perhaps Robert Griffith’s last name is an ironic coincidence.
But I place it in a separate universe. What convinces me of this is the fact that everyone is pretty much shocked by the existence of an invisible man. Remember that Jack Griffith’s original rampage was a very public one and the possibility of making a man invisible was known to everyone in later films. Yes, other sequels to the original had some continuity glitches in them, but this one is simply too big to ignore. So we’ll consider The Invisible Man’s Revenge, a flawed but still enjoyable B-film, to be located one reality to the left of the world in which Jack Griffith began his invisible shenanigans.
This is such an important issue that I think we'll spend next week discussing whether a series of novels and a comic strip should belong in the same universe.
That leaves us with Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), which is without question part of the original universe. We’ll pay the boys a visit very soon.