With the final film in the Invisible Man franchise, it finally returns to its roots, that horror which was proliferated in the first two films and then abandoned in the third and the fourth. Though The Invisible Man’s Revenge had little to do with any of the previous four films except for the lead character sharing the name of Griffin and starring Jon Hall from the The Invisible Agent, it was nice to see it go back to basics and lean closer towards the material H.G. Wells originally published than what Universal had formerly released with the two films before this one. By this point in time, whatever fear an invisible man might induce had been watered down, but you have to give writer Bertram Millhauser and director Ford Beebe credit for at least trying to create a little fright in the audience once again.
This last picture finds Robert Griffin having escaped from a mental institution and looking to settle up with his old business partner, Sir Jasper. A deal is proposed but Robert wants it all due to his being away for so many years while they lived the high life. Circumstances work against him though and soon the claim Robert had on them is gone and so are his chances of ever becoming the man he was supposed to be. As luck would have it though, he meets Dr. Drury who is working on an invisibility formula and when Robert realizes exactly what the doctor has, he knows that this is his chance to get everything that is owed him and more.
Framed within a simple revenge plot, Millhauser gives us an invisible man that is a villain once again instead of a hero which is exactly what he should be. They may not have started out that way, but tht is what makes these characters so great whether it is Claude Rains or Jon Hall. They have fallen from grace, have gone mad and now want to destroy those around them with little hope for reform. If ever there were a perfect villain, it would be these invisible men who are mad yet completely unaware of that very fact. Whether there is anything left of the original man underneath the insanity is unknown for even when there are glimpses, how can you be sure that he has not been permanently altered in some way? Hall brings a better performance to the table as the mad Robert Griffin than he did as the hero in the preceding film and he is quite the despicable character. He lets nothing stand in his way and he will do whatever it takes to satiate his desires, whatever they might be at the time, even going so far as murder. As it was portrayed previously, the madness of the man is the more frightening aspect of the character, not so much the fact that he is invisible.
As a final film, The Invisible Man’s Revenge was a good one. It might not have been as good as the first two, but as a horror film it worked and it did not hurt to have John Carradine in the picture either. As a whole, the series has had its ups and downs but it was good to see Universal bring this film full circle and bringing it back to the genre that made it famous in the first place. Perhaps if they had done it sooner, they might have squeezed a couple extra movies out of it. As it is, The Invisible Man might not be a Frankenstein or a Dracula, but he is still a decent movie monster.