THE INVISIBLE RAY (1936)
Article #448 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-6-2002
Posting date: 10-30-2002
A scientist who discovers a new powerful form of radium becomes enraged when the discovery is passed on to others against his will, and uses the illness he had contracted as a result of contact with the element to kill those responsible.
I’m going to come flat out and say that I’m not a devotee of this particular Karloff/Lugosi collaboration. I get the impression in watching the movie that a real attempt was made to avoid the eccentricities, obliquenesses, excesses and histrionics of either THE BLACK CAT or THE RAVEN; the result is that this movie is so low key and straightforward that it could be described as quite civilized in comparison with the other two. Yet, I’m not sure that horror should be civilized. I don’t mind it being somewhat low-key, but it tells its story in such a unambiguously direct fashion that there’s no sense of mystery left whatsoever, and I think that sense of mystery is necessary to add the intrigue that horror needs. As it is, by the time we get to the murders, we know who is doing it, why he’s doing it, how it’s being done, and how the statues are being destroyed. I think the movie would have been a lot better if the murders started before we knew all this information, and discovered it as we went along. As a science fiction film it works a little better, especially the first fifteen minutes or so; once it settles down into the main story, though, the science fiction elements take a back seat to the horror.