Sunday, October 23, 2011

31 Days of Halloween - Day 23 - Movie 2

The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944) tells the tale of Robert Griffin, an escaped murderer with amnesia who pays a visit to a married couple who were once his business partners, who believed he had died and lost the money that was rightfully Griffin's in bad investments. When Griffin tries to force them to pay up, they toss him out of their home. Griffin eventually finds his way to a scientist who makes him invisible allowing him to more effectively blackmail the married couple, until he decides he needs to be visible again in order to marry their daughter.

This movie is something of a confusing mess, full of vague elements which are never satisfactorily explained.  The main character is named Robert Griffin, but there doesn't appear to be any connection to the original invisible man, Dr. Jack Griffin. We know he murdered his way out of a mental hospital, but aren't really sure if he was a criminal before this. He has amnesia, so he's no help. He believes that his old business partners tried to murder him long ago, but we never really discover if this is true, even though the wife does drug Griffin in order to cheat him in the present. Are they criminals, too? Griffin becomes invisible but doesn't really use it to his advantage in getting revenge against his double crossing partners. Instead he uses his powers to help a down and out man who took him in win some money playing darts. Then when he may have the upper hand, he decides to become visible again in order to marry his old partners' daughter, which doesn't seem to go anywhere either. And while visible his old partners still play along with him instead of trying to get rid of him while they can.

The love interest is played by Universal horror queen, Evelyn Ankers who is less visible in this movie than the main character. It's tough to know who to root for. Jon Hall as Griffin, has a good voice, but is absolutely void of any sympathetic aspect. Griffin's old partners are too morally ambiguous in this movie to trust or side with. Alan Curtis, as Mark Foster, the alleged leading man, doesn't play much of a role in the movie either, so we can't really root for him.

The best part of this movie is Leon Errol, whose comedic role as down and out Herbert, who rescued Griffin from drowning and took him in for his own self interest, steals the movie. His performance is colorful and elevates the movie from being completely disposable. The scene of him playing darts with the invisible Griffin's aide is the high point of the movie.

John Fulton's special effects range from really impressive to not quite passable. It's clear that he didn't have the time or budget that he had to work with on The Invisible Man (1933). Griffin's head is discernible a few times when it's not meant to be, but other effects such as Griffin making himself partially visible using water or flour are novel. Griffin's fading into semi transparency late in the film is interesting, but also not always effective, or fully rendered.

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