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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

The Invisible Man 1933 Reviewed

Updated: Apr 28

Featured Image For The Invisible Man 1933 Reviewed.  Classic movie poster for "The Invisible Man" with a large, spectral face wearing goggles against a green smoky background. Below, actors are depicted in vibrant colors; one holds up a test tube, a woman looks on concerned, and another man stares intently. The title "The Invisible Man" is emblazoned in stylized green letters with "Carl Laemmle presents H.G. Wells' fantastic sensation" above it.
Beware the unseen terror that lurks in the shadows, for he is the master of stealth, the whisper in the dark, the chill in your spine - The Invisible Man.

The unseen has a strange pull, doesn't it? There's power in the void, in the things we can't quite grasp. It's a space where the impossible resides, where whispers turn to shrieks. And that's the world that James Whale plunges us into with "The Invisible Man." Based on the novel by H.G. Wells, this gothic horror tale isn't simply about a man who finds a way of becoming invisible; it's about the darkness that creeps in when the limitations of the physical world fall away.

The Invisible Man Key Takeaways

  • The corrupting influence of power: The film explores how the intoxicating allure of absolute power – in this case, invisibility – can warp an individual's mind and morals. Jack Griffin begins with scientific curiosity but quickly descends into megalomania and violence.

  • The dangers of unchecked ambition: Griffin's relentless pursuit of his scientific breakthrough, without regard for ethical consequences, ultimately leads to his downfall. The film serves as a cautionary tale against ambition without conscience.

  • The thin line between genius and madness: Griffin is a brilliant scientist, yet his obsession tips him into instability. The film suggests that brilliance and sanity aren't always comfortable companions.

  • The psychological impact of isolation: Although Griffin revels in his invisibility, the film demonstrates how this separation from society ultimately feeds his paranoia and violence. His invisibility becomes a kind of psychological imprisonment.

  • The unsettling nature of the unknown: The most terrifying aspect of The Invisible Man isn't the violence itself, but the unseen threat. The film plays on our primal fear of what lurks beyond our vision.

  • Special effects as a storytelling tool: While groundbreaking for the time, the film's special effects are more than just spectacle. They amplify the psychological horror by making the impossible tangible.

  • The enduring appeal of classic horror: The film's blend of suspense, Gothic atmosphere, and dark humor demonstrates why these early horror films retain their ability to frighten and entertain.

A young boy, eyes wide with fear, mouth agape in a silent scream, as he watches the horror of 'The Invisible Man' unfold before him.
In the silent echo of a child's scream, the unseen horror reveals its presence, turning innocent wonder into a portrait of petrifying dread.

The film introduces us to Jack Griffin (Claude Rains), a brilliant but unstable scientist. Amidst a snowbound English village, he's consumed by ambition, driven mad by the intoxicating possibilities of invisibility. The film doesn't linger long on his experiments. Griffin arrives swaddled head to toe in bandages, his eyes hidden behind dark spectacles. It's an image that's both eerie and slightly comical, and it sets the tone for the unsettling humor that laces through the story.

From the moment Jack Griffin unwraps his bandages, the film is propelled by the sheer brilliance of Claude Rains' performance. For the most part, his presence is a haunting absence, the echo of his voice in a silent room. It's a disembodied portrayal of escalating madness, a cackle echoing off empty walls. Rains imbues Griffin with both menace and an odd, fractured vulnerability, making it impossible to look away once he starts his reign of terror.

Director James Whale, fresh off the groundbreaking success of "Frankenstein," brings his mastery of shadows and atmosphere to this production. The film's special effects were innovative for their time, and they still hold a strange fascination. Watching objects move seemingly of their own volition, footprints appear in the snow – it's a simple trick now, but it conjures an uncanny delight. Yet this isn't just a showcase of special effects wizardry; Whale builds an atmosphere that is deliciously macabre. The shriek of Una O'Connor as the hysterical innkeeper, the bewildered faces of the villagers... all of this contributes to a sense of rising hysteria that perfectly counterpoints the cool arrogance of the invisible madman.

An older man with a look of sheer terror on his face, mouth open wide in a scream, as he witnesses the eerie events of 'The Invisible Man'.
Even the wisdom of age is powerless against the chilling grip of the unseen, as terror strips away the facade of bravery to reveal primal fear.

Critic Reviews and User Reviews Are Almost Always Positive For This 1933 Masterpiece

As with many horror films of the era, "The Invisible Man" has its moments of almost slapstick absurdity. The sight of the police, armed to the teeth and bumbling about, stands in comic contrast to the invisible threat they face. Yet, Whale never lets these moments of levity eclipse the creeping horror of Griffin's unraveling. The film is, at its heart, a chilling exploration of the consequences when power is wrenched free from morality, when a man can act with absolute impunity. It's a theme that sadly remains relevant almost a century after the film's release.

In the end, "The Invisible Man" is more than just a horror film – it's a testament to the power of suggestion, and the dark corners of the human imagination. The film's blend of dark humor, genuine chills, and haunting visuals leaves a lingering sense of unease. And in the unseen figure of Jack Griffin, we're confronted with the uncomfortable truth that maybe the real monsters live inside us all.

And that was The Invisible Man 1933 Reviewed. Another great classic horror movie.


Stay tuned for more great horror movie reviews.  

If You Liked The Invisible Man You Might Also Like These Films

  • Hollow Man (2000): A modern take on the invisibility theme. Kevin Bacon stars as a brilliant but arrogant scientist who develops an invisibility serum and descends into violent madness. This film leans more into sci-fi action and body horror than its classic predecessor.

  • The Wolf Man (1941): Another iconic entry in the Universal Monsters series. Lon Chaney Jr. plays a man who transforms into a werewolf under the full moon. While not about invisibility, it shares thematic elements of transformation, a struggle with inner darkness, and the classic gothic horror atmosphere.

  • Upgrade (2018): A sci-fi thriller with body horror elements. A man paralyzed in an attack gets implanted with an AI chip that grants him superhuman abilities. While not about "invisibility" in the literal sense, it explores themes of losing control, power corrupting, and the blurry line between man and machine.

  • The Haunting (1963): A psychological horror classic based on the novel by Shirley Jackson. This film relies on atmosphere and suggestion rather than overt scares. It follows a group of people investigating a haunted mansion, their mental states slowly unraveling. For those who enjoy the psychological horror aspects of "The Invisible Man."

  • Gaslight (1944): A suspenseful thriller where a husband manipulates his wife into believing she's going insane. Though not supernatural, it shares the theme of an unseen threat slowly driving someone towards madness. This is perfect for viewers intrigued by the paranoia-inducing elements of Griffin's unraveling in "The Invisible Man."

The Invisible Man 1933 Reviewed FAQs

Q: Who directed the movie "The Invisible Man"?

A: The movie "The Invisible Man" was directed by James Whale. He was an English director highly acclaimed for his contributions to the horror genre. Whale also directed the iconic films "Frankenstein" (1931) and "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), both part of the Universal Monsters series.

Q: What is the plot of "The Invisible Man"?

A: "The Invisible Man" follows the story of a scientist, Dr. Jack Griffin, who discovers a way to make himself invisible but becomes murderously insane in the process. His descent into madness is fueled by the intoxicating power of invisibility and the side effects of the experimental formula he used on himself. As Griffin's grip on sanity weakens, he embarks on a reign of terror, using his invisibility to inflict harm and chaos.

Q: Which actor played the invisible character in "The Invisible Man"?

A: The invisible character in "The Invisible Man" was portrayed by actor Claude Rains. Rains was primarily a voice actor for the majority of the film since his character is unseen for most of the runtime. His commanding voice and chilling delivery brought an eerie presence to the invisible antagonist.

Q: What is the connection between the movie "The Invisible Man" and other classic horror films?

A: "The Invisible Man" is part of the Universal Monsters series, which includes other iconic characters like Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, the Wolfman, and the Bride of Frankenstein. These films pioneered the classic horror genre in the 1930s and 1940s, and their legacy continues to influence the genre.

Q: What is the significance of the line "He's invisible, that's what's the matter" in the movie?

A: The line "He's invisible, that's what's the matter" is a key phrase in the film, encapsulating both the absurdity of the situation and the terror it inspires. It's often delivered by Una O'Connor, who plays the hysterical innkeeper Mrs. Hall, and it highlights the sheer impossibility of fighting an invisible enemy.

Q: How does the invisible man's descent into madness play out in the movie?

A: The invisible man's descent into madness is a gradual process. Initially, he's intoxicated by his newfound ability and believes his invisibility grants him god-like power. However, his megalomania grows alongside the isolation and paranoia brought on by his condition. His acts of violence become bolder and more indiscriminate, ultimately leading to a final confrontation where the villagers hunt him down.

Q: What is the overall tone of "The Invisible Man" in terms of genre?

A: "The Invisible Man" is a classic horror film with a unique blend of elements. It masterfully combines science fiction with gothic horror, psychological terror, and even touches of dark humor. This balance contributes to its enduring appeal and status as an influential piece of filmmaking.


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