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Joe Cole
Cedric Hardwicke, Vincent Price, Nan Grey
Writing Credits:
Lester Cole, Curt Siodmak

Falsely imprisoned for fratricide, the owner of a coal mine takes a drug to make him invisible, despite its side effect: gradual madness.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 81 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 8/28/18
Available As Part of the “Invisible Man Complete Legacy Collection”

• None


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The Invisible Man Returns [Blu-Ray] (1940)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 24, 2018)

After seven years, 1933’s The Invisible Man finally spawned a sequel via 1940’s The Invisible Man Returns. Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) unjustly winds up on death row for the murder of his brother, a crime he didn’t commit.

After his friend Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton) visits, Geoffrey mysteriously disappears from prison. How does he escape?

Griffin’s brother Jack invented a formula that makes humans invisible, and Frank shares this with Geoffrey. Unfortunately, continued exposure to this concoction eventually causes insanity in its user, so Geoffrey must race against the clock to find the real killers before he loses his mind.

Doesn’t the movie’s title seem inaccurate since the first movie’s lead character doesn’t return? Maybe Universal intended “The Invisible Man” to be a generic term that just meant “any see-through dude”, but it does seem odd to imply the original film’s main role will come back here. Of course, since Jack died at the end of Man, that would’ve been tough, but when did horror movies ever regard death with finality?

Nitpicking about the title aside, Returns offers a perfectly competent sequel – no more, no less, though I admit it disappoints somewhat because it starts well. The film sets up its conceit in a crisp, intriguing manner, one that doesn’t allow us to meet Geoffrey until more than 16 minutes into its running time.

That came as a surprise. I expected an introductory component where we got to know “visible Geoffrey” before he went poof, but instead, the film keeps him translucent for nearly its entire span. This works nicely during that opening, as it creates a sense of mystery.

After that, matters become more erratic. Inevitably, the movie’s clunky romance causes it to drag at times, and the plotline gets muddled enough that the film works only in fits and starts.

Still, Returns delivers some strong moments, such as when Geoffrey torments Willie Spears (Alan Napier), a member of the conspiracy to frame him. Napier – best-known as Alfred on the 1960s Batman TV series – plays a sense of genuine terror, and this sequence fares well.

Though not as good as Claude Rains in the original, Price holds his own as our title character. Unsurprisingly, he offers his strongest work when Geoffrey gets more and more unhinged, and he makes potentially cringeworthy scenes impactful.

In the end, Returns delivers a wholly serviceable sequel. Wile it never excels, it does enough to stay interesting across its 81 minutes.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus F

The Invisible Man Returns appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not the best of the Universal monsters transfers, House nonetheless looked quite good.

In general, sharpness satisfied, as the movie usually appeared well-defined. Some softness popped up for the occasional shot – mainly due to the use of opticals/effects - but the majority of the flick boasted nice delineation.

Shimmering and jaggies remained absent, and edge haloes also failed to appear. The movie’s grain structure felt natural, and print flaws didn’t mar the proceedings.

Blacks appeared deep and dark, and contrast came across well. Shadows generally held up nicely, though a few nighttime exteriors displayed a bit of murkiness. While the image didn’t excel, it still gave us a positive presentation.

Similar thoughts greeted the sturdy DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Returns, as it held up nicely over the decades. Speech could seem a bit brittle at times, but lines were intelligible and concise enough.

Music and effects displayed the expected restricted dynamic range, but they showed acceptable clarity and didn’t suffer from distortion. The mix lacked pops, clicks, hum, or other defects. This was a more than competent track for a movie from the 1940s.

No extras appear here – not even the film’s trailer.

As horror sequels go, The Invisible Man Returns could be better and it could be worse. It’s erratic but it includes enough positive moments to make it watchable. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture and audio but it lacks supplements. Expect a watchable flick here but not anything more.

As of fall 2018, Invisible Man Returns can’t be purchased on its own. It can be found as part of a six-film “Invisible Man Complete Legacy Collection”. In addition to Returns, we find The Invisible Man, The Invisible Woman, Invisible Agent, The Invisible Man’s Revenge, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man.

In addition, Returns comes in the “Universal Monsters Complete 30-Film Collection”. It actually packages the Invisible Man set mentioned above with similar compilations for six other Universal Monsters.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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