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The Invisible Man
Oct 29, 2010 (Updated Oct 30, 2010)
Review by Marie Dragonfire
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Entertaining movie that has held up well.
The Bottom Line: The Invisible Man is another classic horror movie that has held up well and still deserves to be seen.
I've been picking up The Legacy Collection DVD sets featuring classic Universal horror movies for the last few years when I've found them on sale. I finally was able to add The Invisible Man: The Legacy Collection to my movie collection. I just watched The Invisible Man for the first time.
Recommend this product?
A mysterious man arrives at an inn and insists on getting a room even when he is told none are available. His head is covered in bandages and he is wearing dark goggles and gloves in addition to his coat. He is very secretive and spends most of his time in his room doing some sort of experiments. When the innkeeper attempts to make him leave, it comes out that the man is invisible. He escapes the police by taking off all his clothes.
The man is actually scientist Jack Griffin. He had been doing experiments with a new drug that made him invisible. Jack has not been able to figure out how to become visible again. He is also being driven insane by his condition and becoming increasingly unstable. Strange crimes are committed and the police start trying to figure out how they can catch someone they can't see.
The Invisible Man is based on the book of the same name by H.G. Wells. I haven't read the book, so I don't know for sure what has changed or stayed the same. I did read some about the movie when I was double checking character names, and it sounds like the plot stayed fairly close to the book. Four more movies featuring invisible characters were made by Universal. There have been remakes of the movie, other versions of the story and some television shows.
I think there is a good amount of mystery in The Invisible Man. The movie begins by showing Jack, who isn't known to the audience at that point, arriving at the inn and demanding a room. He does look rather creepy with how he is dressed and covered in bandages even though it is fairly clear why he looks that way. It does take a little while before an explanation for how he became invisible is shared. The plot works very well to make an interesting and entertaining movie. Suspense turns up in a few scenes and I don't think the movie is predictable overall.
While The Invisible Man is a bit tame compared to what ends up in movies now, I think it is a good example of a classic horror movie. Jack isn't exactly a monster, but he basically turns into one as he gets more unstable. He is very effective as a main character in a horror movie. In some scenes, he has this laugh that is chilling and creepy. The idea of someone being around that can't be seen is creepy to me. As Jack slips further into insanity, he starts doing more drastic things, including killing. The movie wouldn't have worked as well if Jack hadn't been handled correctly. I wasn't scared by the movie, but I do think it works as a horror movie.
Special effects are used in several scenes of The Invisible Man. Jack is only able to be seen when he is wearing clothes. If he doesn't have the bandages around his head, he looks like he has no head. Some scenes show Jack removing clothes or moving around wearing only a few articles of clothing. The movements are sometimes jerky at times, but that doesn't bother me. It is a little humorous to see clothes floating around at times. A tiny bit of humor turns up in a few scenes without making the movie funny overall. While the special effects are dated, they work well and are effective. I think the effects are done well for when the movie was made.
A little while into The Invisible Man, it comes out that Jack is engaged to Flora, the daughter of his mentor, Dr. Cranley. She is shown worrying about him a few times. They are only briefly together in one or two scenes, so that relationship doesn't receive much attention or development. Flora does seem to calm him down a bit. The relationship doesn't add much to the movie, though it does help to show that Jack was more stable before he became invisible. There is only a small hint at romance like there has been in most of the other older Universal horror movies.
None of the characters in The Invisible Man are that developed. Jack is already invisible when the movie begins, so the audience never sees him when he is stable. He is frantically working to find a way to reverse his condition, and he slowly gets more unhinged as he has more trouble with the work. Claude Rains does well with the part. Gloria Stuart shows up in a few scenes as Flora. She seems nice enough, though she really doesn't have much to do.
Flora's father, Dr. Cranley is in a few scenes without doing much. Kemp ends up with more to do since Jack forces him to help with a few things. Kemp isn't really a bad guy, but he isn't that likable either. William Harrigan is fine in the part. The innkeeper and his wife are only in a few short scenes near the beginning of the movie. She gets very shrill at one point, so I'm glad she wasn't around more. The police are around as well, though none of them really stand out to me.
William Harrigan - Dr. Kemp
Claude Rains - Jack/Invisible Man
Gloria Stuart - Flora
James Whale - Director
My copy of The Invisible Man is from The Invisible Man: The Legacy Collection. The DVD set also includes four more movies with invisible characters. There is a commentary with Rudy Behlmer, a film historian, that I haven't listened to yet. Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed is a documentary that features Behlmer talking about the movie and how it was made. It is very interesting. I think The Invisible Man is also available alone, though I don't know for sure.
The Invisible Man is a very effective classic horror movie that is still well worth watching. Fans of the old Universal monster movies should give this one a chance.
This review is part of talyseon's Let There Be Lips! Rocky Horror Write Off.
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