The Invisible Man (DVD, 2000) Reviews
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The Invisible Man (DVD, 2000)

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THE INVISIBLE MAN - now you see him, now you dont!

Oct 28, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Claude Rains and James Whale rule!

Cons:The negative used for the print is showing it's age

The Bottom Line: A great film, a classic of the genre. It's just a shame that the DVD presentation forces me to knock a star off the 5 star flick.

You know, as I plow through the Universal monster movies with my annual Halloween viewings, I start to ponder exactly what is my attraction to these flicks? Moody and occasional creepy as hell, but they're not actually scary - at least to a horror vet like myself. And yet, somehow movies like Dracula, Frankenstein and - in this case, The Invisible Man - are compelling to me year after year.

The invisible man, in case you haven’t guessed is about a mad scientist (is there any other type) who develops a formula that turns him invisible. You see, the formula turns the recipient invisible, but it also makes them quite mad. What's the first thing a Mad Scientist does when he develops the perfect invisibility formula? Obviously go on a crime spree! Murders of great men and murders of little men (just to show he doesn't discriminate), derailing a train and cause a huge crash and general antics on the terrified townspeople. With his proclivity to megalomania, The Invisible Man plans to bring the world to its knees. . . . .

Starring as the Invisible Man is Claude Rains in his first roll - well, his first screen roll of any note since I'm not counting that 1920's silent picture that he did that doesn’t exist anymore. And more accurately, since we don’t actually see The Invisible Man turn visible until the end, it was actually his voice that made his movie debut. Claude only gets a few seconds of face time in the film. Given the constraints of his roll, he manages to bring a wonderful combination of theatrical bravado and lovable lunacy - oh and that laugh is far too creepy for words.

As much as Claude rules the roost, a great deal of the credit to the success of the film must go to director James Whale, the mastermind behind classic horror films Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, and The Bride of Frankenstein - masterpieces, every one. Whale's strong point is that he manages to wrap his head around what it means to be an outside, a monster, and explore what it was like to be different and horrifying in an ordinary world. Since James was a gay man in the 1930's, it's not too hard to see why he had a sympathetic bent towards his monsters.

Of course a movie about invisible killers is going to live or die on the effects. While the effects look hoaky to today's eyes and you can clearly see the strings in places, this was some real cutting edge stuff. The visual effects, by John Fulton, John Mescall and Frank Williams, really give the story a believable edge even if they have dated badly.

The video is presented in its original black and white, full frame format - but the print is sadly showing its age. Tears, dirt, hairs, reel changes, scratches and just about everything that goes into badly preserved film stock are in evidence here. This film seriously needs some tender loving care from Universal before it's too late. The sound, on the other hand is a rock solid (if simple) 2-channel mono track.

If you've been paying attention to my previous Universal monster flick reviews, you know what to expect here: an excellent documentary from film historian David J. Skal, a trivia and information packed commentary by Rudy Behlmer, production notes a photo and poster gallery, cast and crew information and the trailer. An excellent job as always.

The Invisible Man is definitely one of the gold standards of classic horror movies. Several sequels were spawned by the success of this picture - some of them sporting casts that lesser movies would die for, Vincent Price and Sir Cedric Hardwick - but they don’t quite match this version.

Now if only the print looked better.

Recommend this product? Yes

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