ABlu-ray Collection… What? Where did it Go?
James Whale directed both Frankenstein films with macabre panache and an outsider’s sensibility, giving the films a wonderfully subversive streak that made audiences side with the Monster and his maker, rather than the innocent bystanders that got caught in the rampage (excluding the little flower girl, of course).
The Invisible Man continued this trend. Whale also blurred the lines between a mad scientist and a monster by making them one and the same in The Invisible Man. Though it sports the least amount of, the film can be seen as a thematic link between the Frankensteins as the bandaged and goggled Invisible Man (or Griffin as he’s known in the film) is also an outsider, but one who was once known as a kind, respected man. This all changed upon subjecting himself to the experimental Monocane drug that turns him invisible — and murderously insane.
The Invisible Man is a Jekyll and Hyde combination of the good doctor and his creation’s murderous tendencies. He is articulate, intelligent, and charmingly played by Rains (who can only be seen onscreen at the film’s climax). This is what makes The Invisible Man so damn engaging as a character. While Dracula supports the same verbose quality, he lacks the humanity of The Invisible Man. Well, that and the special effects. Though the effect is now commonplace with contemporary digital tools, there’s something much more special to me about the fact Whales and his teamed pulled the invisible effect off nearly 80 years ago. Blu-ray may spoil the transparency (pardon the pun) of the older effects, but it should also bring out the details of Whales and company’s SFX achievement.
Besides effects, the film’s script may be its greatest virtue. It plays fairly close to H.G. Welles’ novel, showing us how Griffin’s secluded effort to reverse his invisible state descends him further into madness and obsession with his limitless power. The horror only really kicks in when The Invisible Man starts his murderous rampage. The lack of an actual creature and straight horror thrills compounded with a less Gothic and more snowy village setting hurt The Invisible Man‘s merits as an autumn contender. Then again, the character is so iconic — brought to menacing life by a unique look and Rains booming voice — that it at least justifies consideration within the context of a Halloween-bound Universal Monster Marathon.
Not that kind of mummy, Scoob…