31 Weeks to Halloween: The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
They hear him! They feel him! But they can't stop him!
We're well underway on our countdown to Halloween night with yet another Universal Monster movie; for the ninth film in our countdown, we're taking a look at The Invisible Man Returns from 1940 - the sequel to The Invisible Man that came out seven years earlier with amazing success. Universal brought in horror legend Vincent Price for the film - who always adds a little extra awesome to the movies he's in - and the movie ended up being pretty well received. By this point, Universal was really starting to feel the warm reception of their monster movies, and The Invisible Man Returns was no exception. While it feels like there's actually less special effects in this movie than in the original film, the movie went on to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Special Effects for its creative use with the character! Yet again, the studio was able to do some really awesome special effects where they could make an empty room really appear to have an invisible man inside of it; things like picking up a newspaper, walking on grass, and even putting on a pair of pants just looked so natural - almost like it was magic. I was definitely a little less impressed this time around than the original film; it feels like the first movie had used a lot of the better actions for the character to do, like smoking! Regardless, there's still some pretty awesome effect work going on in this film and even though the script is less appealing and a little more boring than the original, the film is still a fun watch and an essential part to the Universal Monsters catalog of classic movies.
The Invisible Man followed the story of Dr. Jack Griffin as he tested out the secret formula for invisibility; but in The Invisible Man Returns, we're following the story of Sir Geoffrey Radcliffe (played by Vincent Price) - an innocent man who was wrongfully accused and sentenced for the death of his brother Michael. Dr. Jack Griffin's brother - Frank - injects the soon-to-be-hung man with an invisibility drug, and he manages to escape the prison and go on the run from the police. But as we know from the original Invisible Man film, the drug doesn't work without one big set-back: it turns its user into a madman with some serious anger issues. But now armed with the power of invisibility, Radcliffe is determined to use it to try and get to the bottom of his brothers murder and to clear his name of the crime. Will his attempt to utilize invisibility help his attempt to win back his freedom and put the real murderer in the noose? Or will his new trait, anger, and desire for power (and a cult like following, according to him) cause him to go mad?! Find out in The Invisible Man Returns!
Like I mentioned earlier, both the script and the plot for this movie left a little more to be desired. It's pretty boring and even more so predictable, but after how amazing the original film was, I'm sure movie-goers in 190 were just excited to see another Invisible Man on the big screen and to see Universal work their magic to create some awesome visuals. There's some pretty fun ones, but the most memorable is without a doubt when Radcliffe removes his goggles and you can see right through him! It's also pretty awesome for 1940 to see Radcliffe removing his wrappings layer by layer, and to have an invisible head with the wrapping on only half the head! It's also a little bizarre that Frank was written into a storyline where he was never previous mentioned in the original film as having any involvement in the drug development, but in this film they say he was working alongside his brother Jack to develop it. I know for a lot of people, these movies aren't about the plot or script, they're about the monsters and creatures you encounter along the way. And if that's what you're going into this franchise for, then you'll love The Invisible Man Returns! The Invisible Man gets plenty of on screen time (even if you can't see him!) and the effects are always fun. But if you were hoping for a great storyline follow-up to the original, you'' find a relatively mediocre one here. That's not to say it's a dreadfully bad movie at all, it's just way weaker than its predecessor from 1933. You'll get a few laughs, see some neat camera tricks and likely fall in love with the adorable Nan Grey who played Radcliffe's wife Helen. While all of this may make this movie sound fucked, it's an essential part of both cinematic and Universal Monster history, and it's worth watching at least once just to see how the studio decided to follow-up to the original film. You'll likely see that there just isn't as much substance or thrill this time around, but it's a fine film to throw on in the background as you play a game on your phone or poke around at SoullessCult.com ;]