Spooky Movie Month Day #25 – The Invisible Man

October 25th

More building, painting, cutting and practicing as we are now only 2 days till Forbidden Panel’s Zombie Pageant, but we made time for another spooky movie! True to my word, we’re done with slashers and dialing down the fear levels, so I thought it the perfect time to catch up on our history lessons! 

Now considered one of the “greats” in the circle of Universal Monsters, The Invisible Man from 1933 was a masterpiece with ingenious special effects… and an utter failure at the box office.  

Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart in movie art for the film ‘The Invisible Man’, 1933. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)

Originally written by the father of science fiction; H.G. Wells, the story brings us into this world just after a scientific experiment has gone terribly wrong. Dr. Jack Griffin, played by Claude Rains, finds himself alone and invisible after attempting to change the way the human body absorbs and reflects light. At first, he fixates on how to cure himself and genuinely seems to be suffering. But after his pleas for help are denied and people begin to abandon rational thinking for idiotic fear, he realizes he has a power in this new curse – he can control, manipulate and destroy anyone who opposes him. And why not? They all seem so eager to be afraid, why not give them what they want? He can rob banks unseen, walk into private political meetings undetected, visit the most off-limits places in the world and no one will know.

With a screenplay by R.C. Sherriff, Preston Sturges and Philip Wylie and directed by James Whale, The Invisible Man takes us on a journey of darkness through the mind of a man struggling to find himself when he has no reflection. 

The drug which caused his malady slowly deteriorates his mind, turning him into a savage, calculating megalomaniac. He truly turns into a monster. Only the love of his life, Flora, played by Gloria Stuart, can bring out his more human side, but even she can’t stop the tide as he falls headfirst into power-hungry madness. 

This was, I’m embarrassed to say, my first time watching this, so I had no idea what it was about, not really. Only that there was a man who was invisible due to a science experiment gone wrong. I had no idea he turns into a terrifying depiction of mankind’s apathy and it is no surprise they chose to bring this story to film right when they did.

Released in 1933, this was clearly more than just a “monster movie”. It tells the story of how a man without the ability to see himself can get lost in cruelty. When he sees people fear him, he takes no pity, but abhors their ignorance and considers himself a higher being who deserves to rule over all. At a time when the world’s leaders included Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler, alongside all the fear-generated propaganda ruling the media at that time… this film is 100% political commentary.

I felt a little guilty after, since I’d promised the kids no more insane killers… but in my defense, I had no idea he was just a dude with an ego problem who ends up with a body count of over 100 people by the end. *Oops!* 

Luckily, they both really loved it. In fact, Dragon laughed through 80% of it, mostly prompted by the comedic innkeeper’s wife, Jenny, played by Ana O’Conner. She was regularly hysterical with fear, wailing and shrieking at every possible, perfectly timed comedic moment. 

Lion loved it, too, but thought mostly it was sad. In the novel, Jack Griffin was already an egomaniac, so his decent into darkness isn’t really that big of a deal. In the film, he is affected by the drugs and his mind is changed as a result. At the end, they pity him and know his actions aren’t truly his own, but that of the drugs. Oh, and she was mad they sprayed a cat with paint. 

Overall, this was a good choice for tonight and I was excited to introduce them to a classic. Hopefully it will encourage them to read the book!

Tomorrow we will continue our history lessons, so stay tuned as The Mothership dives even deeper into the past to show the younglings the birthplace of horror films.