The Monster Project Concludes: The Invisible Man

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We have now reached our fifth and final Universal Monster Movie. Since beginning this project, my son and I have watched some of the classic early horror movies, only breaking from the Universal slate to watch Godzilla. We’ve had a lot of fun, and now we’ve watched the movie O was most excited for, The Invisible Man.

Starring Claude Rains and an extremely pre-Titanic Gloria Stuart, this adaptation of H. G. Wells’ classic science fiction story share a director with Frankenstein. Here James Whale is indulging his clearly wicked sense of humor, creating the only creature we’ve watched you could truly say loves his work. “Embodied” by Claude Rains, Jack Griffin gleefully wreaks havoc, killing with abandon and mocking the police as he does. The other monsters we’ve watched were either acting out of instinct ( such as the cursed Wolf Man or the Creature from the Black Lagoon) or sinister plotting (Imhotep, or Dracula), but none enjoyed their evil as completely as The Invisible Man.

And this is clearly O’s number one film, almost from the beginning. From the evil cackle Rains uses to the impressively dynamic camera work, the story flies along with an energetic mix of humor and horror. When we come to the elaborate attempts to save Dr. Kemp from Griffin’s wrath it’s easy to be drawn into the tightly paced scheme, and to see what Griffin does to slip past the police. By the time the movie’s over, O has confirmed this as his hands down favorite. He’s been talking about how fun it would be to be invisible. If he didn’t already have a costume, we’d be buying Ace bandages this evening. Also, for a movie made in 1933, the effects were really well done. O figured out the use of strings to float objects, but he’s still trying to puzzle out how they made him look invisible while unwrapping the bandages.

Overall, this whole project has been a success. The five Universal movies we watched were almost all hits, and even the ones he was less impressed by (Dracula and Wolf Man) he still enjoyed. He’s even asked about watching Godzilla again, which makes me wonder if perhaps there’s a Son of Monster Project around the Japanese monster movies in our future. What’s been most heartening is seeing that the old black and white movies still work for a kid of his generation. He certainly doesn’t engage with them the same way he does with a movie like The Avengers, but then I don’t either. He was still drawn into the stories. He was genuinely concerned about the Gill Man, felt bad for Imhotep, and plenty of Griffin’s antics here had him laughing and smiling. I had already suspected he was a budding film fan, and this confirmed it for me. We’ll definitely be making more journeys through classic movies, now it’s just a matter of picking our next project. If you have any Ideas, let me know.

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