The Invisible Monster (1950)
Company: Olive Films
Starring: Richard Webb, Aline Towne, Lane Bradford, John Crawford, Stanley Price
My Review and Thoughts:
This 1950 serial is one of the better serials to come out. This is lovingly brought out on Blu-ray by Olive Films. They did a fantastic job bringing this out. I am a huge fan of this Serial. I am utterly beyond happy to be able to watch this on a new outlet. The Invisible Monster is one of those wonderful forgotten gems of the olden days of cinema.
During the early days of the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s there was a time when the theater opened and you the child, or adult could have a serial chapter film and a double feature, and also some cartoons.
I grew up in the 80’s when the theaters still held these realities for the kids. Looking back on it, it was basically a babysitter to the kids. I remember these times fondly. You paid one price, got two movies and about 10 cartoon skits, and an Old Serial Cliffhanger. I remember seeing many films at Saturday Matinee’s during my childhood. A local theater would run double features for kids or adults, mainly geared, to children out of school in the summer time. For a dollar, you got two features, and about 10 cartoons on the big screen and an episode of a Serial each week. This was in the glorious 80’s and if you brought a canned food item, for the needy, you got a bag of popcorn for 25 cents.
Something my mother and her siblings did growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, the local theater would run specials, and if you brought in certain items you got free popcorn. My mom remembers the Serial Cliffhangers fondly.
The glory days are long gone and now you have to take out a bank loan just to go to the movies.
Now the history of the matinee goes back to the setting of a movie serial, or by movie fans which they call “cliffhangers”. These serial chapter films usually consisted of 12 to 15 chapters to tell the whole story. Each chapter ending in shock, amazement or the hero in some peril at the clutches of death, or explosion. Something always left you hanging on, and you would have to return next week to see the conclusion. After this serial, a movie would play.
In the golden days you got the serial, cartoons, a newsreel and a movie. During my days you got the serial, cartoons, and then you got two movies. I remember you got about 10 cartoons which lasted about 30 minutes and then 2 films, one being longer than the other.
The whole experience could last from Noon, to 4 or 5 in the afternoon, it depended on the length of the film. Now the reality of the matinee can be traced all the way back into the early 1900’s. The very first motion picture serial was the 1912, What Happened to Mary. This consisted of 12 parts and only came out once a month. The serial world of cliffhangers most always consisted of a Damsel in distress, or a super hero, and an ultimate villain.
During my time, the theater showed many serial’s including, Batman, Batman and Robin, Captain Marvel, Captain America, many Flash Gordon’s, Dick Tracy, many westerns and Zorro’s. These would be followed by no name cartoons and sometimes Bugs Bunny or related characters. The one cliffhanging serial I remember the most is 1939’s The Phantom Creeps staring the wonderful, spooky horror man himself Bela Lugosi.
One of the main studio’s that brought out many wonderful serials was Republic Pictures. An American film studio that was an independent film production company. This studio survived up until 1959. They released a huge list of B-movies, Westerns and most importantly for this writing, movie serials. Now don’t get me wrong that was not the studios only releases, they brought out many films by the one and only master film maker John Ford, and even Orson Welles 1948 Macbeth. The studio will always be to myself, and many fans, the company that supplied a ton of Double Saturday Matinee style cinema pieces. From Roy Rogers, to Gene Autry, and Captain Marvel all the way to the one I am reviewing for Olive Films Blu-ray, The Invisible Monster.
Interesting to note about this feature, there is different versions. There is a 100 minute version that ran on television, retitled, Slaves of the Invisible Monster. This cut version was poorly done and lost a lot of its appeal. Thankfully this version on this wonderful blu-ray by Olive Films is the full version of the serial. Now for all you trivia movie buffs and lovers of old cinema, this has the one and only Stuntman, Actor, Tom Steele in two of the chapters. Steele was the very definition of action excellence. There will never be another Tom Steele, because no one can live up to his persona and true stardom. His stunt work consisted of well over 350 stunts in film and television. Over 200 acting credits. He was truly an old school star. Also in this, is stuntman and actor Dale Van Sickel. Another wonderful stuntman and pioneer of stunt work. Sickel was stuntman in over 200 productions, and acted in over 300 productions. Both Dale and Tom where true landmark individuals in cinema history. As long as there are companies like Olive Films that honor these old serials, there will always be fans.
Also one has to mention the Special effects which were done by the one of kind gurus of special effects, Howard and Theodore Lydecker. They were billed as the Lydecker Brothers. These where true pioneers of special effects. Masters at the concept of the miniature effects. In their career's they were nominated for many Oscars in Best Visual Effects. They were two brothers that knew how to make something fake, look real. Their talent at creating Special Effects was amazing. It’s also great to see the effects that persons in the old days, had to create by hands, and camera work. These production's, serials such as The Invisible Monster showcases true artist, sculptures and visionaries. No computers, no green screens, but just hands, and imagination.
This Serial consist of 12 Chapters:
Slaves of the Phantom (20min)
The Acid Clue (13min 20s)
The Death Car (13min 20s)
Highway Holocaust (13min 20s)
Bridge to Eternity (13min 20s)
Ordeal by Fire (13min 20s)
Murder Train (13min 20s)
Window of Peril (13min 20s)
Trail to Destruction (13min 20s)
High Voltage Danger (13min 20s) - a re-cap chapter
Death's Highway (13min 20s)
The Phantom Meets Justice (13min 20s)
Starring the wonderful Richard Webb as Lane Carson. Webb is one of those true icons of cinema. From countless westerns to film noirs, he had away with his talent that only the olden days could produce. Also starring the beautiful dynamic Aline Towne as Carol Richards. Towne was a stable in serials. She also starred in one of my favorite Republic serials, Rader Men from the Moon. Both Webb and Towne are truly gifted together and both create solid performances.
The plot is like most serials of its time, fantastic, imaginative, and over the top brilliance. A mad scientist who is known as THE PHANTOM RULER has created a substance that when sprayed on an object, causes it to become invisible. He uses this ability to become invisible. He uses this so he can rob and steal money to create his ultimate invisible army. Now as we all know, no mad man is complete without his evil henchmen and posse. These baddies seek out, and infiltrate places that there boss can rob, and steal money to finance his diabolical scheme. Insert your hero’s, Carson and Richards to figure out the ordeal of just what is happening.
Olive Films brought out a true one of a kind treat for any lover of classic cinema. Lovers of Serial Cliffhangers will be happy and satisfied with this brilliant Blu-ray.
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Great example of bringing out an old serial on a new outlet. Fantastic in every way.
Old school perfection. A trip of old school wonderment. A serial that sends you into the realm of a cliffhanging reality, that left so many kids on the edge of their seats on just what is about to happen, or what is going to happen. Olive Films did a great job bringing this old piece of Serial cinema to a modern generation. A must own product for any lover of pure entertainment.
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