THE INVISIBLE GHOST (1941)
Article #78 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-2-2001
Posting date: 10-16-2001
A series of unmotivated murders is taking place in a large house. The owner of the house (Bela Lugosi) believes his wife ran off with a lover and died in a car crash; in reality, the wife survived the crash but lost her mind in the process, and is being kept secretly in the house by one of the servants. Occasionally, she wanders outside the house at night; when her husband sees her, he goes into a trance and commits the murders.
This was the first of Lugosi’s string of horror movies for Monogram in the forties. In Tom Weavers’ “Poverty Row Horrors” book, he takes a poll of several well-known Lugosi fans to pick the best of his Monogram horrors, and this one came in first. For me, the jury is out on this one; it has a strong sense of atmosphere and some very nice poetic touches, and the opening, where Lugosi holds his annual dinner where he pretends to be dining with his wife, is as unsettling as it needs to be. It also has the advantage of being very unlike the other movies Lugosi made for Monogram; in fact, there’s nothing else quite like it out there. On the down side, it almost aggressively strains credibility, and I can’t think of a single plausible explanation as to why his wife’s appearance would cause Lugosi to commit murders (other than, “He’s mad.”), so I find myself scratching my head as often as I find myself entranced. Maybe it is his best Monogram movie, muddled as it is. Definitely an oddity, though.