31 Week to Halloween: The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944)
THEY'RE MARKED...for DEATH!
By now in our countdown to Halloween of Universal Monsters movies, we've hit the year 1944 and we've already seen four Invisible Man movies: The Invisible Man, The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Woman and Invisible Agent. In 1944, however, the studio came out with another Invisible Man film - The Invisible Man's Revenge - which debuted to some mixed reviews since it, essentially, utilizes the same special effects as all the previous films in the series. Five movies in eleven years which pretty much all show the same thing can be argued as overkill to audiences - but if the story is entertaining and the use of flying objects can be creative enough, there's no reason the movie can't be just as great as the first. When it comes to The Invisible Man's Revenge, which has no connection to the previous movies in the series besides using the last name Griffin, writer Bertram Millhauser nailed it with a story that is creative, funny, and gives our main character - Robert Griffin - a great reason to want to undergo the experimental invisibility drug. Director Ford Beebe brought that great story to life with some really funny and visually appealing special effects. While it may not be something we haven't seen before four times previously, it doesn't negate the fact that The Invisible Man's Revenge is arguably the best Invisible Man film in the series!
Robert Griffin (Jon Hall) - this films Invisible Man - is an escaped mental patient who killed two orderlies and makes it his mission to find his two friends Sir Jasper and Lady Irene Herrick. The trio were involved in a mission in Africa to find treasures which made them very wealthy - well, the Herrick's at least! You see, during the mission, something hit Griffin in the head and knocked him out, and Griffin says he was left for dead by the group in the forest. He questions whether or not it was intentional, so that the Herricks could keep his share of the fortune, but that's dust in the wind now. Now, all he wants is his share of the money and wealth. After being escorted off the property, Griffin stumbles upon the house of a mad scientist who has been working on an invisibility drug which has yet to be tested on humans. Griffin is the perfect candidate: he's a wanted criminal who wants to seek revenge on his former friends and business partners, to get what he feels he deserves. So under the drug he goes and poof, he's invisible and on his way to get his fortune. Using his newly acquired power, he tries to extort the Herrick's for all they own, including their daughter Julie (played by Evelyn Ankers of The Wolf Man). Along the way, Griffin and his hilarious buddy Herbert Higgins get into some mischievous trouble as they use the invisibility to mess around with people. Will Griffin get the fortune he's legally entitled to, or will he get what he really deserves?! Find out in... The Invisible Man's Revenge!
There's three particular scenes in the film that really did it for me and made this movie such a good watch! When Griffin first meets the mad doctor Dr. Peter Drury, he has an invisible bird and an invisible dog whose appearances are the first time in the movie you'll laugh! The doctor walks around with a leash and harness that is totally empty, and he has a bird in its cage that you can hear but cannot see; it's totally laughable and really sets the lighthearted tone of the film early on. Later on, Griffin and his buddy Herbert go to a tavern where some other men are playing darts, and they totally hustle the guys for their money: Herbert holds the darts in really dumb and outrageous ways, and Griffin - invisible - grabs them and runs them over to the target, placing them all dead center in the bullseye. Herbert is throwing the darts from between his legs and throwing six at once, just to have them all land in the bullseye - it really is one of the best scenes in the entire movie. Random, but absolutely hilarious. And finally, without giving too much of the ending away, Griffin is invisible and he's lured his desired Julie's boyfriend Mark down into the wine cellar, where he's going to kill him, and though you can't see him, all you can hear is his maniacal laughter. Mark is being thrown around and taunted by Griffin, and all you hear are the laughs of a madman, and it's now one of my favorite scenes in all of the Universal Monster movies we've seen so far!
Because really, that's what this movie is about: a madman. Obviously something sketchy happened in the woods that day he got knocked out, but when he awoke, he was mad with revenge! And it makes for such a great - yet simple - story! That's what's so fucking good about all of these movies; the stories are so simple and basic, but they used such animated actors and special effects that it turned a simple story into an all encompassing thriller! The Invisible Man's Revenge is no different, its simple story of revenge is paired with a ton of still great invisible action shots that make watching these movies over and over again so much fun. And like I said before, this movie really is one of the best Invisible Man films in the series. While they didn't reinvent anything we've seen before, they made it one hell of a movie that did what the Universal Monster films did best: tell a great story with great characters and a great journey. Check it out!!