Rewatching the Universal Monsters! The ones on the Blu-ray box set, at least. After wandering through the comedy and action genres, the Invisible Man series goes back to horror/thriller with The Invisible Man’s Revenge.
Here’s what happens: Homicidal maniac Robert Griffin escapes from asylum and seeks revenge against the rich jerks who he believes left him for dead while on safari years earlier. After some Knives Out-style backstabbing, Griffin meets local scientist Dr. Drury. Drury gives Griffin an invisibility formula, and we’re off.
Monster!: The effects folks continue to up their game with the invisibility effects, as this Invisible Man puts water or flour on his face to get a little more acting screentime in. John Hall plays Griffin with a cool menace, with a deep yet whispery voice that’s really creepy.
Also a monster!: John and Irene Herrick are the rich snobs who originally wronged Girffin. We learn they are corrupt to the core. They did indeed leave Griffin for dead and swindled him. When Griffin arrives back at their house years later, they try to poison him. They’re so rotten that they make Griffin more of an antihero than a villain.
Our hero: A journalist named Mark Foster is engaged to the Herricks’ daughter Julie, and he investigates the Invisible Man’s doings. He’s a stalwart hero, and he wears huge hats.
Hapless humans: Evelyn Ankers plays the Herricks’ daughter Julie, making her something of a series VIP, having appeared in a bunch of these Universal Monster movies, as a different character each time. Dr. Drury seems sinister at first, but he doesn’t want to use invisibility for evil, just for the love of science. The supporting cast is made up of a stuffy butler, disbelieving cops, and a bunch of quirky pub-goers.
Thrills: Griffin is more interested in ruining the Herricks’ lives before outright killing them, though he’s not above waving a knife in front of people’s faces. Later, there’s a creepy scene in which Griffin discovers he can turn visible again, but only by killing someone. This leads to a lot of murder and craziness in the final act.
Laughs: Griffin’s sidekick and/or accomplice is a local Cockney named Herbert, who speaks entirely in folksy wisdom. He and the Invisible Man work together to cheat at darts, foreshadowing the antics Abbot and Costello will later get into with their invisible man.
Thoughts upon this viewing: This movie is great. It has a twisty-turny plot and a lot of great acting. All the Universal Monster sequels are diminishing returns, but this one is a real hidden gem.
Next: Our house… in the middle of our street…
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