Plot: Robert Griffin (Jon Hall) was duped and left for dead just after he seemed to strike it rich, as he was betrayed and his half of a valuable diamond mine was stolen from underneath him. After he recovers, he confronts the shady folks who tried to kill him and take his fortune, but all the evidence is destroyed and while he remains enraged, there’s little Robert can do. But that changes when he runs into Dr. Drury (John Carradine), who is certain he has unlocked the secrets of invisibility and just needs a willing test subject. As he sees the potential of being unseen, Robert agrees to help the doctor and keeps his revenge plot a secret. Once he has been turned invisible, Robert hits the road and goes after the people who hoodwinked him, but will he have his payback or is there more to the serum than he anticipates?
Entertainment Value: This is the final installment in the original Invisible Man series and I think it is a solid sendoff, as it focuses on the madness of the serum and of course, some fun special effects. A consistent narrative thread in the series has been how those who turn invisible are in a race against the clock, as the serum will slowly erode their sanity once ingested. This sequel subverts that thread to an extent, as Robert is already quite off his rocker before he turns invisible, so he just gets more and more mad as time passes. I’ve seen some complain that his unstable nature defuses some of the tension, but I liked how he was a nutcase to begin with. I can understand why having the lead be an unsympathetic character could be troublesome for some viewers, but I had fun watching all of these selfish characters duke it out. The pace here is solid and doesn’t feel overly long or drawn out, while the movie offers up some cool special effects, as you’d expect from this series. While you’d think we’d have seen all the invisible tricks by this point, some fresh new elements are shown here, with the water soaked face as a highlight that still looks impressive.
As I said above, our lead is unconventional for the series, as he is not a stable person to start with, let alone under the serum’s power. Jon Hall plays the part quite well and while he isn’t a likable lead, he is fun to watch. His role also veers off the path of the other invisible men thanks to being visible for much of the movie, while the others had just brief glimpses of their visible forms. Hall hams it up and delivers a good effort as a total jerk, which some will find hilarious and others will dislike, since the movie really doesn’t give us anyone to root for. I do love a fun mad scientist and John Carradine fills that role nicely here, in a dialed up performance. We also have Leon Errol, Evelyn Ankers, and Alan Curtis in larger roles. I do think some viewers will wish there was a more clear good guy involved, but I appreciated the bold choice to give us all dastardly type characters here. While not in the same league as the original, this is a more than solid final curtain for this fun franchise.