A scientist develops a formula that turns him
invisible, but also drives him completely insane.
The Invisible Man (1933)
Directed by James Whale
Written by R.C. Sherriff
Starring Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan,
Henry Travers, Una O'Connor, Forrester Harvey, Holmes Herbert
Based on the novel by H.G. Wells
I've now seen all but one of the original Universal horror classics (Creature from the Black Lagoon, I'm coming for you next), and The Invisible Man is by far the darkest. Unlike Dracula, who's a monster, Frankenstein, who's misunderstood, and the Wolf Man, who's cursed, the Invisible Man is an unhinged killer with a serious body count. Claude Rains delivers an unforgettable performance as Jack Griffin, the Invisible Man. His delivery is bone-chilling, and he makes good on his promises of mayhem and murder, which seems unusual for a movie made in the 1930's.
When Jack Griffin develops an invisibility serum, he tests it on himself and becomes invisible, but not without serious mental consequences. He's slowly losing his mind and becoming more and more unstable and driven to murder. He wants to find the antidote, but that need is quickly replaced by a need to kill everything in sight and incite mass panic. The film doesn't hold back at all, showcasing the Invisible Man as a bloodthirsty monster. I was also pleasantly surprised at the impressive visual effects. I thought it would look hokey at the least, but the invisibility effects aren't half bad.
The Invisible Man is one of the best of Universal's classics, and it still holds up today thanks to a host of great performances, some landmark visual effects, and a bit of dark humor here and there that really spices up the story. I'm still floored by how dark James Whale was willing to go with this one, and that the Universal execs let him do it. I'm looking forward to the remake even more now, if only to see if Leigh Whannell does justice to this horror classic.