The Invisible Man Returns Blu-ray Review

Well Envisioned

After a strong push for labor rights in the ’30s, Universal’s first sequel to their Invisible Man stashes a murder mystery in a sci-fi thriller about a mine worker wrongly accused of murder by his boss. It’s a more relatable take on the concept, spun less for its mad science than a revenge story applicable to its period. Quaint, really, where the fears of science in a pre-nuke world were invisible people.

Invisible Man Returns lacks Claude Raines. That’s an immediate strike against this sequel. Although Vincent Price notably stars in the title role, he lacks the conviction of Raines. That leaves this follow-up immediately flat; it’s just too cheery given the subject matter. Scenes inside of a lab where John Sutton experiments on guinea pigs stream sunlight in from the windows. That’s miles removed from the dank basements of Frankenstein. Invisible Man Returns enjoys being playful too, rife with common laughs and shock over the possibility of a pre-marital woman seeing a man in the nude. Maybe the latter is just a gag left to a less progressive time.

… a bright, playful romp without any leering or threatening qualities

Still, it’s charming, if a bit mixed up. The script seems convinced of the inevitable madness experienced by invisible people. Price needs to turn deluded because the first film took that path, butting against the breezier tonality overall. It’s a shame too – other than invisibility being a part of this film’s world, there’s no connection to the 1933 original.

Tonal missteps removed, Invisible Man Returns finds a generous, spirited story. On the trail of Roosevelt’s New Deal and other successes of union forces, the grubby mine owner, aware of the unsafe conditions, exploits his low-level worker. Enough so, his employee is willing to undergo unproven scientific methods to rat out his boss. It’s done out of sight, less the mine manager (Richard Cobb) spy this plot to undo his position. With no fear of reprisal, Invisible Man Returns pokes and prods at those responsible, certainly to the glee of an audience approaching World War while still battling capitalism’s worst exploitation. Kudos to Universal for this bit of brevity in an unsure world. Soon, this series went to even further extremes.

While part of the wide Universal Monsters canon, Invisible Man Returns doesn’t meet the quota technically. Price’s Geoffrey Radcliffe is never posed as a threat, just a man seeking what’s right through a fantastical method. Tenuous horror elements evaporate quickly, leaving this sequel a bright, playful romp without any leering or threatening qualities. At the least, Invisible Man Returns finds something of significance in the idea.

Video

Pleasingly rendered from a gorgeous source, Universal’s track record for their classic horror line is maintained. With the exception of one frame skip, the print suffers from no visible imperfections. Expected faults from a film this vintage were either cleaned up or the print was maintained in this special condition.

A perky grain structure pokes out, rendered cleanly by the encode. Invisible Man Returns carries the look of classic film stock, with a pure haze when in close and definitive texture from afar. A scene in a forested area captures marvelous fidelity and sharpness.

Expected drops in sharpness occur during visual effect scenes. That’s expected and normal. Anywhere else, natural clarity is preserved, along with a firm gray scale. A short sequence late takes place in near total darkness, reaching pure black. Highlights extend to pleasing brightness without going too far.

Audio

Some deep voices challenge the low-end of the DTS-HD mono track. It’s a success. Clarity runs high, free of static or distortion. The few musical cues pop with strong peaks and pure treble. Like the video, age does little to Invisible Man Returns’ audio offering.

Extras

Doubled up on the same disc with The Invisible Woman, there’s nothing to support either film.

The Invisible Man Returns
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Using the worker’s right movement as its basis, Invisible Man Returns is a cheery, somewhat messy sequel to the 1933 original.

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