Surreal, bizarre Monogram masterpiece...
Mark Verheiden | Pacific Palisades, CA USA | 09/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The title almost gives it away. "The Invisible Ghost." What other kind of ghost IS there? While there are some genuinely creepy moments in this black and white thriller, the plot is so hare-brained you'll need multiple viewings just to absorb the details. Let's see; Bela Lugosi believes his wife died in a car accident, but his gardener (!) actually has her stowed in the back barn. When wifey staggers out in the rain and "haunts" Lugosi, he falls into a trance and murders whoever's handy, then "wakes up" remembering nothing. Throw in a cigar chomping (and utterly ineffectual) police detective, the poor fellow who's unjustly convicted of the murders and sent to the electric chair (!), the casual way Lugosi and friends react to multiple homicides, and a psycho-therapist who suggests Lugosi's murderous trance is, in fact, a fairly common psychiatric disorder, and you've got one of the more whacked movies in cinema history. I loved it!"
Dave. K | Staten Island, Ny | 12/13/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Invisible Ghost was released in 1941 10-years after Bela Lugosi became a star on the rise starring as Count Dracula in the horror classic Dracula. Fact of the matter is Lugosi never really fully capitalized on the success of Dracula and while his career did sort of go downhill after Dracula he was still making movies under Universal and having a pretty good career, but he never had a character quite as Iconic as Dracula. He starred in quite a few movies with Boris Karloff in the 30s, but around the 40s is when Lugosi hit Poverty Row, which was a slang for low budget studios.
As much as I love Bela Lugosi for me Boris Karloff is the king of the horror genre, but even for those who prefer Lugosi his career never quite took off like Karloff's and let's be honest; Lugosi was a better actor than given credit for, but he doesn't have the range Karloff did. By the time of the release of Invisible Ghost, Lugosi was starting to hit hard times. He did star in a few movies for major studios, but in general he was reduced to a small role that was beneath him and in a lot of the movies it was a role that essentially any actor could have played. Lugosi appeared in the RKO release of The Body Snatcher with Boris Karloff in 1945 and by this time when Lugosi had a role in a movie under a major studio it was either a cameo or in the case of The Body Snatcher he was just sort of there and had no lines at all or in this case very little dialogue. So that shows you how Bela Lugosi went from this greatness to struggling for roles, which was really quite a shame.
Even when Bela Lugosi would get a starring role in a movie by the likes of Universal like The Ghost of Frankenstein, by that point the series was now seen as a B-movie rather than an A, but even with a movie like Ghost of Frankenstein being seen as a B movie it's still light-years ahead of Poverty Row. Despite the fact Lugosi was reduced to Poverty Row he was still making some enjoyable movies. The best way to describe this movie for a modern audience is if there had been VHS and or DVDs Invisible Ghost would have been a movie that went DTV.
The screenplay by Al & Helen Martin is quite poor; while not the worst script out there it was poor with weak characters and an even weaker plot. Nothing is explained plot wise and the characters were rather boring. Lugosi plays Charles Kessler and we find out his wife left him for another man we also find out she was in a car accident and the guy died, but she lived. For some reason the Gardner keeps her hidden and she sometimes wanders off and when Kessler sees her he becomes hypnotized and kills people.
The reason the Gardner keeps her hidden is he doesn't want Kessler to see what she's become since it seems she has some brain damage. Wow great explanation. And why exactly does Kessler become hypnotized and go on a killing spree? Well your guess is as good as mine. Truth is by a certain point of the movie I wasn't really paying full attention so if a reason was given I must have missed it. The biggest flaw with the movie is we know Kessler is the killer and it take away from the movie.
And what I find funny is people are being killed in the house and yet not one person suspects anyone else and nobody bothers to lock their doors. I don't know about you, but if people in my house are being killed I'm gonna be suspicious of the other people and make sure my door is locked. Invisible Ghost really is just an idiotic movie.
Director Joseph H. Lewis fails at brining any suspense or any tension. In fairness he doesn't much to work with. Making something out of this script would be no easy task. But the one good thing I can say is the actors aren't half bad. For such a low budget flick the acting wasn't bad well some of the actors were poor, but some were fairly decent. But even with that Joseph H. Lewis never is able to get much going.
Over the years the horror genre has had many great suspenseful and scary movies, but there's just something about horror from the 30s and 40s that has never been captured again. These movies often had this really eerie look that was loaded with atmosphere and again over the years many horror flicks have had that, but not like they did in the 30s and 40s, but Invisible Ghost really has none of that at all.
Many have called Invisible Ghost the so bad its good movie and I suppose you can make a case for that, but for me this was just so bad it's well bad. There are moments that are fun in how bad they are, but in general I was just bored. Invisible Ghost only runs at about 65-minutes, but personally it felt a lot longer. It's quite a shame Bela Lugosi got stuck making movies like this and it would get even worse for him in the 50s. To go from starring in Dracula and movies along side Boris Karloff is a huge drop in the acting food chain.
I can see how this movie would appeal to some viewers, but for me it was just mostly a waste. You can find so many better horror flicks from this era that it's best to just skip this. The only reason to watch it is if you are a big Lugosi fan like I am. Lugosi was excellent, but he has such lousy material to work with there's only so much he can do."
Pretty Good Lugosi Vehicle
J. Pinkerton Snoopington | Toronto, Ontario, Canada | 08/17/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Lugosi's horror movies of the late thirties and forties for Monogram pictures weren't particularly memorable or ingenious, but they served their purposes and were reasonably entertaining. In this movie, Lugosi is haunted by the ghost of his dead wife, and every time he sees her, he is put in a murderous trance. The plot is kind of hokey, but there are a few atmospheric scenes, and the acting is surprisingly good for this kind of movie.
The DVD from St. Claire Vision is in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Unsurprisingly for a public domain horror movie, the picture is plauged with scratches, and it is consistently blurry (although if you're shopping in the bargain bin, like I did, you should know what to expect). There are no extra features, which is also unsurprising."
The best of Bela Lugoi's Poverty Row films for Monogram
J. Pinkerton Snoopington | 11/17/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Actually "The Invisible Ghost" does refer to a character in this 1941 film, but then the only thing that matters is Bela Lugosi's name on the title card. Lugosi plays Charles Kessler, who we meet having dinner with his wife on their wedding anniversary; the only problem is that according to daughter Virginia (Polly Ann Young), her mother was killed in a car accident several years earlier as she was about to run off with her husband's best friend. But Kessler still worships his wife and on their anniversary he convinces himself he is having dinner with his beloved. Sounds plausible enough, but the truth is that Mrs. Kessler (Betty Compson) survived the auto accident and is being kept in the gardener's shed by the caretaker, Jules (Ernie Adams), who keeps assuring the poor woman that she will be taken to her husband and daughter "soon." Meanwhile, there have been a series of strange murders in the neighborhood and when the maid is struck down the suspicion falls on Virginia's beau (John McGuire). But, of course, that is not close enough to home to really ruin the rest of Virginia's life and sooner or later the local cops will figure out the truth of what is going on here."The Invisible Ghost" is the best of the nine Poverty Row productions Lugosi made for Monogram after his fall from grace at Universal Studios. The problems in the script (you can usually find the body in a car crash for starters) are compensated for by the work of director Joe Lewis, who shows a lot of cinematic flair for a B-film director making a quickie (e.g., filming the fireplace during the exposition). This film is rather face paced and gets a lot in for only 64-minutes. The other advantage it has is that Lugosi's performance is better than the plot; I mean, come on, you know who the murderer is before the movie begins, and it is just a question of waiting for all the pieces to be forced into place by the time the film ends. This is not a suspense film, but more one about atmosphere and mood. The insane wife, befuddled daughter and falsely accused beau are all above average performances as well; if you were just listening to them you would not know this was a low-budget horror film. There are times when I think this is Lugosi's best performance, but I am probably more comfortable claiming it is one in which he plays his most sympathetic character. But if you do not have a strong stomach for stupid plots, then you would want to pass this one bye."