The Amazing Transparent Man
Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Stars: Marguerite Chapman, Douglas Kennedy, James Griffith
This cheap knock-off of H.G. Welles’ The Invisible Man has got to be contain grossest mis-use of the word “amazing” I’ve ever seen. Alright, the word amazing, according to the dictionary means: “causing great surprise or sudden wonder” and I suppose that would apply to a man who turns himself invisible. In use, however, especially in titles, “amazing” is also a positive thing. For example, Spiderman is always The Amazing Spiderman but we never get the “Amazing” Green Goblin. Through the Green Goblin is fully capable of causing great surprise and sudden wonder, he’s an asshole so nobody ever refers to him as “amazing.” Likewise, the hero of The Amazing Transparent Man is a prison convict and violent bank robber. He’s not amazing – he’s just a dickhead who can happen to be invisible from time to time.
Joey Faust (Douglas Kennedy) escapes from prison and is met by a girlfriend of his, Laura Matson (Marguerite Chapman). The opening is a clear indication to just how dull this movie is going to be. The music sounds like one painful drone, like listening to someone try to saxaphone while falling-down drunk. The acting all sounds like a cold read through of an unfinished script. And everything is woefully inaccurate. First glaring inaccuracy: Laura and Joey happen upon a police roadblock. He puts his hat over his face to pretend to be sleeping while she tells the police officer, “this is my husband – he had too much to drink tonight.” The cop smiles and laughs it off and then lets Laura go with a “have a nice day.” NO NO NO NO NO. When police set up roadblocks to look for escaped fugitives – they are not this friendly about it. There was a time I was driving home from a film shoot in Canon City, CO – home of a federal Supermax prison. A group of convicts had escaped that night so the police set-up a roadblock along the highway. This wasn’t a simple: “Oh, have a nice day,” kind of thing. Police were shoving shotguns into the every driver’s face, searching cars, screaming at people to open their trunks. It was a fucking scary experience. I guess B-movie Hollywood just has a more positive outlook on shit they don’t know about.
Laura takes Joey to the home of Dr. Peter Ulof in order to hide out for awhile. Proud of his work, Dr. Ulof shows off his great new machine that can turn living things invisible. He explains the wonky science behind this with pointless techno-babble about x rays and radiation and such and its all very boring until Dr. Ulof actually shows us a test of this using a guinea pig. It’s also one of the goofiest and stupidest looking sequences I’ve seen in awhile – even by the standards of a 1960 B-movie. Seriously, this is how it looks:
The film finally ends with the destruction of an entire county in Texas when Joey’s attempt to rob a nuclear vault goes horribly awry. It closes on Dr. Ulof explaining that this technology is better left dead because it could have been used to create an army of invisible soldiers. In fact the closing line is essentially: “It was worth it to destroy this place in order to prevent someone from building an army of invisible soldiers.” Then he breaks the fourth wall and says to the audience: “Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you?” as if this whole tale of an invisible bank robber was just a morality tale – told to enlighten us about the misuse of an emerging technology? To answer Dr. Ulof’s question, however, I would not destroy a Texas county in order to prevent the creation of an invisible army – this is most likely because I would be the mad scientist creating these transparent foot soldiers.
Why this movie is on a pack of horror films I have no idea. I think Mill Creek just ran out of movies to put on here and just tossed in this public domain quickie. The title was familiar because I most likely have this film on A LOT of these DVD sets. Another reason why I recall title of the movie sounding so familiar – it was an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
So that does it for Disc 2 of the Pure Terror DVD set. Next up, the first movie on Disc 3 – Hands of Steel and with a title like that I have a bad feeling it’s going to be about cyborg assassins or some bullshit like that.