“The universe is very large, and there are some secrets we are not meant to probe.”
A scientist (Boris Karloff) exposed to a rare element known as Radium X finds that he can kill people simply by touching them, and becomes increasingly reclusive. Soon he allows jealousy of his colleague, Dr. Benet (Bela Lugosi) — who wants to use Radium X for healing purposes — and his beautiful young wife (Frances Drake) — who has fallen in love with another man (Frank Lawton) — to drive him to vengeful murder.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Atomic Energy
- Bela Lugosi Films
- Beulah Bondi Films
- Boris Karloff Films
- Mad Doctors and Scientists
This uneven but atmospheric mad scientist/revenge flick — co-starring notorious Universal Studios “rivals” Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi — is primarily notable for providing Lugosi with one of his rare non-villainous roles (with which he does a fine, subtle job). Indeed, having recently rewatched so many of Universal’s Frankenstein films — in which Lugosi either played the demented Ygor, or The Monster himself — it’s truly astonishing to see him here playing a “normal”, rational male. If you can ignore the often silly and sloppy “science” behind Karloff’s death/healing machine (which, to be fair, is actually remarkably prescient in theory), you may find yourself at least enjoying the fun special effects and sets. Note that, as in Werewolf of London (1935), the screenplay for The Invisible Ray makes somewhat clumsy use of a convenient “replacement partner” for the doomed central character’s beautiful young wife. With that said, doe-eyed Frances Drake (best known for co-starring with Peter Lorre in Mad Love the previous year) is quite compelling here in one of her few better-known leading roles.
Note: Click here to read a detailed essay about Karloff and Lugosi’s fabled, often overlapping careers.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Bela Lugosi as Dr. Benet
- Frances Drake as Diana
- Some nifty special effects and sets
No, though it’s worth a look.