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The Invisible Ray

USA 1936
produced by
Edmund Grainger for Universal
directed by Lambert Hillyer
starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Frances Drake, Frank Lawton, Violet Kemble Cooper, Walter Kingsford, Beulah Bondi, Frank Reicher, Paul Weigel, Georges Renavent
screenplay by John Colton, based on a story by Howard Higgin, Douglas Hodges, music by Franz Waxman, special effects by John P.Fulton

Universal horror cycle

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Janos Rukh (Boris Karloff) has invented a machine that enables him to look into earth's past, where he & a selected group of scientists see a meteor crash into Africa some 13 million years ago. So he, doctor Benet (Bela Lugosi), Sir Francis Stevens (Walter Kingsford), his wife (Beulah Bondi), her explorer-nephew Ronald (Frank Lawton), & Rukh's own wife Diana (Frances Drake) all embark on a mission to Africa to collet some meteor material ...

In Africa, while tender romance between his wife & Ronald starts to blossom, Rukh leaves the rest of the expedition for days on end, & soon finds the meteor, is able to harness the power of its key element Radium X, & soon has a raygun that melts stone (!) ... but of course, his success comes with a price, at night he glows & his touch proves to be lethal. He begs Benet to cure him, but Benet can only give him injections to supress the effect of Radium X, without the injections Rukh would probably go up in flames & then die ...

At the same time though, Benet has noticed that Rukh is borderline mad, since he wants to use the Radium X for his own purposes, he steals some of the element, to use it in medicine ... to terrific results, Radium X can make the blind seeing again & so on.

When Rukh hears about what he thinks is Benet's treachery, he is at first furious, but then pretends to be impressed after all  & congratulates Benet to his progress ... & that same night, he fakes his own death.

Later, Ronnie & Diana marry (everyone has seen it coming) & couldn't be happier, while Rukh plans to kill all the participants of the expedition, starting with Sir Stevens & his wife ... but Benet takes a ultra violet photograph of the iris of dead Stevens & finds out the last thing he has seen was Rukh. So he, Ronald & the authorities decide to set a trap for Rukh, inviting a panel of notable scientists to a midnight demonstration of the effects of Radium X.

Somehow though, the trap hasn't been all that thought through, because Rukh has no problems catching Benet alone & murdering him using his touch of death. Then he makes a visit to Diana in her (unguarded) room, but just can't bring himself to kill her because of the feelings he still has for her. Instead he wants to go after Ronald, when Rukh's mother (Violet Kemble Cooper) interferes, scolds her son & breaks his hypodermics with the serum he needs to survive.

The effects are immediate: Rukh's body starts emerging smoke, then he goes mad & throws himself out of a window. & his body burns to cinder before he even touches the ground ...

 

Of course the film is silly, the narration doesn't make any sense & credibility is strained beyond the limits. But Invisible Ray is also highly likeable, a pulpy mix of horror, science fiction & adventure featuring straightforward storytelling, a fine duel Karloff versus Lugosi, & a genuine love for its subject.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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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