After chemist Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains) experiments with mysterious drugs he discovers a way to become completely invisible! Unfortuenly for Dr. Griffin he fails to read the fine print when working with these chemicals. The drug “monocane” used in his experiment known for its bleaching properties also causes insanity. In a race against time to find a cure and become visible once more Griffin quickly beings to loose grip over his sanity. As “The drugs [he] took…light up [his] brain” he becomes the murderous Invisible Man.
English actor Claude Rains make the most peculiar entrance to the world of American Cinema in The Invisible Man. Rains performance in this film is often noted as excellent and noteworthy however we as the audience only see Rains’ face for less than two minutes when(spoilers!) our title character finally becomes visible as he draws his last breath. The lead actor is seen as either an invisible apparition or as a man in goggles wrapped in bandages. Throughout most of the film, Rains is simply a disembodied voice, but it is through his voice alone that he commands the attention of the audience. The presence and authority Claude Rains seductive and strong voice brought in this film is the reason that his voice would later become his trademark.
While on the subject of Claude Rains miraculous performance as a none visible entity it is important to note the groundbreaking special effects used. To make him invisible director James Whales had Rains filmed wearing completely black velvet under whatever clothes he was wearing while in front a black background. Using the traveling matte process the images of the non-visible Rains and the scene background was composited to create an invisible figure with clothes draped over him. The filmmakers also skillfully implemented the use of wires to manipulate objects while Dr. Griffin was completely invisible. Considering when this Universal Horror film was made and the complex visual effect used to create it, it is surprising that it’s not mentioned as often or praised as highly as Dracula (1931) or Frankinstien (1931).
Not only is The Invisible Man technically superior to Dracula and Frankenstein it also happens to be truer to its literary source as a “picturization” then the latter two horror Classics. When the studio hired R.C. Sherriff to write the script he requested a copy of the book he was supposed to adapt to the silver screen. Unfortunately, no one provided Sherriff with the H.G. Wells novel. The studio instead gave Sherriff 14 treatments for the story some set on the moon and mars even. Luckily Sherriff found a copy of The Invisible Man and thought the novel would make a great movie as it was, and that was the story he decided to tell.
“An invisible man can rule the world. Nobody will see him come, nobody will see him go. He can hear every secret. He can rob, and rape, and kill!”-Dr. Jack Griffin/The Invisible Man
The more well-known horror archetypes like Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster don’t even compare to the masterfully crafted Invisible Man. The movie is witty and fun and worth serval rewatches. Dr. Jack Griffin shall forever reign as the king of Universal Horror.