Rewatching the Universal Monsters! The ones on the Blu-ray box set, at least. Vincent Price is in the house when The Invisible Man Returns.
Here’s what happens: Framed for a murder he didn’t commit, Sir Geoffrey Radcliff escapes from the cops via the first movie’s invisibility formula. At first, Radcliffe uses his invisibility to hunt down those who framed him for murder, only to get more and more unhinged as the movie goes on.
Monster! As before, the filmmakers go the extra mile to ensure we never forget there’s an invisible man in the room, with a variety of special effects techniques. The scene where Radcliffe, goes on a wild rant while sitting at a dinner table with friends is scarier than any of the effects.
Also a monster! Radcliffe’s accomplice is Dr. Frank Griffin, brother of Jack Griffin, the original Invisible Man. This begins the curious continuity of these movies, in which we don’t follow characters from sequel to sequel, but instead follow Griffin’s formula as passes from one hand to the next.
Our hero: Detective Sampson is a cigar-chompin’ Scotland Yard detective hot on Radcliffe’s heels. He deduces the invisibility things right at the start, and keeps his cool when surrounded by bumbling cops.
Hapless humans: Radcliffe reunites with his trying-to-be-understanding fiancé Helen, and then threatens and murders his way through his family’s mining business in search of who framed him for murder.
Thrills: There’s a lengthy scene of Radcliffe chasing a man around the woods. Later, the cops fill a house full of smoke in an attempt to catch Radcliffe, resulting a neat silhouette effect followed by Radcliffe outsmarting them all.
Laughs: There are a few goofs with a caretaker named Ben, who can’t figure out what his dogs are barking at.
What’s all this then? The Blu-ray box set omits 1936’s The Invisible Ray, co-starring legends Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. It’s not part of the Invisible Man series, though, and doesn’t even feature invisibility. Karloff plays a scientist exposed to radiation from a meteorite, giving him the power to kill with a touch. It’s a crazy movie.
Thoughts upon this viewing: The Invisible Man Returns suffers from sequel-itis, content to repeat a lot of what the first movie did. There’s still some fun to be had, though, with a great Vincent Price performance and a great action finale.
Next: Shamble like an Egyptian.
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