I thought I’d be a clever boy and watch the 2020 remake followed by the 1940 sequel and see which is better. Neither really holds a candle to the James Whale movie, but remake definitely has the edge over this clunky, cheapie sequel. As far as German directors who worked with their wives, directed versions of The Indian Tomb, and emigrated to the USA in 1933 go, I prefer Lang – who made his own sequel with the word “Return” in the title this same year. Fellow German Curt Siodmak (Robert’s idiot brother) was beginning his Hollywood writing career, having wowed his home country with classics like F.P. 1 Doesn’t Answer.

Nan Grey (a soft-voiced automaton) was supposed to marry a very young Vincent Price (a full decade before The Baron of Arizona), but he’s inconveniently on death row because he killed his brother… or DID he?? (he did not). Fortunately, Price is friends with another man with a dead brother – O.G. I.M.’s bro Frank (John Sutton would also appear in Return of The Fly). Frank, not a great scientist (he lets cigar-smoking cops into his chemical lab), turns Price invisible to spring him from prison, then hopes he’ll find a cure before Vince goes mad (the movie lets this drop, Vince never starts slipping). So this time the girl’s in on the plan and the invisible man’s a good guy – kinda anticlimactic as far as horror sequels go.

I.M. sits down for a nice meal with his girl and his brother’s killer:

Cedric Hardwicke (Hitchcock’s Suspicion) likes Nan and is sadly obvious about it, seems so glad to have Vince out of the way that you almost suspect him of having murdered the brother, ah, of course he did, as Vince learns after playfully tormenting a drunk whom Cedric confided in. Movie is extremely British, and plods along… the dialogue obvious, the invisibility effects good but some other filmmaking techniques lacking (they have animals “die” by freezing the picture, a non-barking dog is overdubbed by a very-barking dog). Vince kills the killer and I suppose nobody can prove it was him, then gets his body back.

Mouseover to watch a guinea pig get visible:
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Elisabeth Moss escapes her abusive guy and holes up with A Wrinkle in Time star Storm Reid and her cop dad (Aldis Hodge, the condemned in Clemency). The good news is the abusive guy is soon reported dead, but the bad news is he’s an “optics genius” and is actually just invisibly stalking her, after faking death with the help of his shitty brother. The first body appears at the 1hr 12min mark – that’s a minute longer than the entire original movie, in which the I.M. killed dozens. Eventually, I.M.2020 starts killing cops (and Moss’s sister), after working to discredit and destroy Moss – but not kill her, since she’s pregnant. She returns to their ultra-modern rich-tech-movie-guy house, finds that after the genius’s “death” someone covered all his equipment in giant plastic sheets but left their dog untended, grabs the backup suit and becomes The Invisible Woman. Skimming letterboxd reviews, it seems I wasn’t the only one reminded of Gone Girl (thinking of the Neil Patrick Harris scenes).

Never seen this, and I’d steeled myself for a first half of boring scientist buildup, but nope, he arrives at an inn, already invisible and in a terrible mood. This was a good pick, excellent and humorous, as I should’ve expected, coming between The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein.

While the voice of Claude Rains is off being invisible and trying to complete his studies if only the other residents would leave him alone, his mustachey coworker Kemp (William Harrigan of Flying Leathernecks) takes the opportunity to mack on Claude’s girl Gloria Stuart.

The innkeepers curse their luck:

At the inn, the highlight is Una O’Connor, who has a terrific scream. Claude’s only special powers are to beat people up while invisible, and fuck with their heads – the news reports the so-called invisible man as a group delusion, a bumpkin madness, but things escalate when he kills a cop halfway through the movie.

Clarence and Gloria hear the bad news:

Kemp and Gloria arrive along with her scientist dad Clarence, who says the chemicals in Claude’s invisibility formula can cause madness. Proving his point, Claude kills 100+ innocents by wrecking a train and tearing through his own search party, then murders Kemp, sending his car off a cliff. Since neither science nor the love of Gloria Stuart can tame him, the townsfolk hunt the guy down.

Played at the second Venice Film Festival, with Little Women, Twentieth Century, It Happened One Night, and Golden Lion Mussolini Cup winner Man of Aran. One of the five classic Universal monster movies, all of which got multiple sequels. Joe May would direct Invisible Vincent Price in 1940, and the same year Virginia Bruce would play The Invisible Woman, though of course she doesn’t get to be a scientist, she just answered a newspaper ad placed by Dr. John Barrymore. Jon Hall fought nazis as The Invisible Agent, returned for his Revenge two years later, then Arthur Franz got invisible with Abbott and Costello. There have been plenty more invisible (and Hollow) men and women, and it looks like the guy who made Upgrade is rebooting the original next year with Elisabeth Moss.

On one hand, I really want to see the G.I. Joe movie (since I used to watch all the cartoons) and Supernova (since it’s a legendarily troubled sci-fi with F.F. Coppola involvement) and many other, even worse movies. On the other hand, time is precious and I take my movie watching seriously. So I find The Last Ten Minutes to be a happy compromise – in one guilty-pleasure hour, I kill six potentially trashy time-wasting movies, at an average savings of 89%, or over 13 hours per ten movies! What a deal.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009, Stephen Sommers)
Ah, what’s happening?! General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) looks concerned. A stealth bomber was shot with green smokey special effects and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) escaped alive. People are referring to “joes” and their “hoo-rah” when they get excited is of course “yo joe!”. Maybe they should’ve gotten rid of those parts. Cobra Commander and Destro (I never thought of him as Scottish) are off doing creepy villain stuff and saying lines like “you and what army?” The visuals look slick as shit, though. Why is Duke (Channing Tatum of Public Enemies) so young? Mild sequel set-up, Jonathan Pryce-as-president coda, and it looks like I missed all the Storm Shadow scenes. Movie looks totally bearable overall. In a few years I look forward to G.I. Joe: The Wrath of Golobulus then G.I. Joe: Beyond Thunderdrome.

Horsemen (2009, Jonas Akerlund)
Why is General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) putting Zhang Ziyi in prison, and what does it have to do with the apocalypse? Oh of course baddies are after his family and are luring him to an abandoned building… that is way more boring than the apocalypse. Quaid’s son (Lou “Thumbsucker” Pucci) is hanging Ichi The Killer/Hellraiser style over a stage saying some boringness about neglectful parenting while Quaid is chained up watching. And every Saw sequel said the same thing. Why don’t our parents worry about us? Why don’t our parents worry about us? From the director of nothing and the writer of Doom.

Supernova (2000, Walter Hill)
James Spader in a Leviathan diving suit fought a badass white guy who I don’t recognize until rescued by Angela Bassett. The ship’s computer warns us about “ninth-dimensional matter.
Karl gets extremely blown up, but I wouldn’t call it a supernova. I don’t think Angela Basset has a shirt on. Ah there’s the supernova – neato. After going warp-speed while nude and hugging, Basset-Spader have gone all The Fly and swapped eye colors and now she’s pregnant – that never happens when people beam up together on Star Trek. Interesting pedigree, this movie – from pseudonymed director Walter “The Warriors” Hill with uncredited help by Francis Ford Coppola.

John Q (2002, Nick Cassavetes)
Denzel… shoots himself in the head! But the safety was on. Transplant heart for Denzel’s insurance-less dying child is arriving. The police arrest a False Denzel while the real one sneaks around in hospital scrubs, but Robert Duvall is on to the plot. Is this really what heart transplants look like? So simple and clean, like the Operation game. Montage of people telling us America may have a national health-care problem. A blatant message movie, then. Look, James Woods! I thought it didn’t seem terrible overall until a cringey final shot.

Hollow Man 2 (2006, Claudio Fäh)
Was Hollow Man even successful? Invisible Christian Slater (the poor man’s Invisible Kevin Bacon) indirectly kills a suited guy who’s tracking him via infrared scanner. Oh wait, dialogue tells me that was actually Invisible Peter Facinelli of the Twilight series… Slater is now trying to murder Laura Regan until Facinelli shows up. Invisible Man fight in the rain ends with a shovel stuck into Slater. From the writer of all sorts of unnecessary sequels, from Hellraiser: Hellworld to Dracula 2000, from Pulse 3 to Prophecy 5.

Surrogates (2009, Jonathan Mostow)
Short movie. Evil James Cromwell, inventor of the surrogate system, surprises Bruce Willis with a gun. Ooh, in the future we have light-up staircases. Crom “uploaded a virus into the system” to kill all the surrogates, but a fat guy excitedly shouts some key commands at a blonde chick, then shots are fired and all the robot surrogates in the world fall down. So whoever she was (Bruce’s wife?) she saved all of humanity from a life of surrogate slavery, waking them from, one might say, the Matrix in which they lived. From the director of sad sequel Terminator 3.