Halloween Scene: The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Man is the Universal Monster I have the least experience with both in their original formats and the movies they spawned down the line. Aside from cartoons, I think the only legit Invisible Man type flicks I’ve seen are Hollow Man and Chevy Chase’s Memoirs Of An Invisible Man. I think I also read the original H.G. Wells story in college when I was working on a paper comparing the original characters with the versions Alan Moore used in the first League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume. From what I remember, the movie follows the book pretty faithfully.

The flick follows Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains) who has discovered the secret to invisibility and it’s driving him a bit batty. The movie opens when he, covered in bandages, asks for a room at a local inn. Soon enough, the pesky woman who owns the place wants her rent, but Jack doesn’t want to pay, so he strips off his clothes and runs around messing with stuff. As reports flood the police of an invisible man, they understandably don’t believe until they “see” and then try to trap him. There’s a few more twists and turns along the line and there’s a love interest of sorts, but I don’t want to get to spoilery.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t know if I would classify this as a horror movie. Sure, Jack does some bad things, killing a few people here and there and making threats, but it’s hard to find a character too scary when you see him hanging out in his PJs for a solid portion of the movie.

However, I do think The Invisible Man is worth a watch. The story itself is interesting and well performed by everyone involved (I especially like the town drunks who frequent the inn’s bar) and of course Raines does great work as Jack. But even if all that didn’t interest you, there are some pretty groundbreaking effects going on here. I mean, it’s easy to figure out how these things would have been done today, but it’s pretty bonkers to think of them doing something similar back in 1933! If you haven’t seen The Invisible Man I recommend remedying that (it’s on Netflix instant now along with a bunch of other Universal Monster movies), just don’t expect huge horror thrills.

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