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The Invisible Monster

USA 1950
produced by
Franklin Adreon (associate) for Republic
directed by Fred C. Brannon
starring Richard Webb, Aline Towne, Lane Bradford, Stanley Price, John Crawford, George Meeker, Keith Richards (II), Dale Van Sickel, Tom Steele, Marshall Reed, Forrest Burns, Eddie Parker, Frank O'Connor, Charles Regan, Charles Sullivan, Howard M. Mitchell, Bud Wolfe
written by Ronald Davidson, music by Stanley Wilson, special effects by Howard Lydecker, Theodore Lydecker

serial

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The Phantom Ruler (Stanley Price) has discovered the secret of invisibility, which has to do with a certain compound being lit by a certain ray. Now the guy figures being the master of invisibility, he can become the leader of his own invisible army to rule the whole world - but there is a small glitch, he doesn't have enough money to secure a big enough supply of the compound, and since there are no large enough supplies of the compount in the USA he has to ship it from abroad and smuggle it in rather than just steal it. So he has spent quite a bit of money on smuggling a handful of refugees from other countries into the USA, providing them with false documents and CVs to get them jobs in high profile companies ... to rob these companies, extort them or whatever else you can think of.

But when the Phantom Ruler and gang conduct a bank job using the invisibility ray that leaves the police baffled, that puts insurance detectives Lane (Richard Webb) and Carol (Aline Towne) onto the job, and they'e quick to get on the gang's trail, even if they don't figure there's an invisible man in the gang's ranks for the longest time. The Phantom Ruler has a problem though, the supply of his compound runs low even for personal use, so he can't use it all that much and leaves most of the actual work to his visible and not very bright henchmen, so Carol and especially Lane manage to spoil his plans at pretty much every twist and turn - which leads to many fistfights, shootouts, carecrashes, explosions, narrow escapes, and of course chases by foot, car and boat, until ultimately Lane and Carol collect enough evidence to put two and two together to figure out the secret of invisibility - but by then the Phantom Ruler has pulled another hair-raising bank job. He succeeds, too, but Lane manages to capture one of his men (George Meeker) and makes him talk, then raids the hideout of the Phantom Ruler with the help of one single cop. Of course, despite being outnumbered and despite one of their opponents being invisible, Lane and the cop succeed in the end ...

 

The Invisible Monster is pretty solid for a serial from 1950, but it also shows the format has been in steady decline for the last decade or so and is now on its tail end (even if Republic hung onto it about 5 more years): Basically, quite a bit of action of this one was lifted from earlier serials, the main attraction of the piece (invisibility) is handled rather unspectacularly and without wasting much time or effort on special effects, the cast is disappointingly small given the fact this is about a baddie wanting to build himself an army to conquer the world, and the plot and situations are pretty much routine fare bordering on the boring.

On the plus side, at least The Invisible Monster is decently paced, and it tells its tired yarn well. And some of the stock footage used is at least pretty exciting.

Basically, nothing to get overly excited about, but an ok cliffhanger from the tail end of the era of cliffhangers ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD