Reel Reviews

Invisible Ghost (1941)

Invisible Ghost (1941)

4 Beers

Monogram horror titles are interesting films to watch. Always cheaply made productions with shadows that plunge into the depths of the corners, these black-and-white films – spanning from 1940 to 1946 – feature known names in the genre, yet were nothing more than poverty row horror.

Bare-boned scares. That’s what these titles offer audiences.

There’s no denying that the flaccid writing and pale acting means these 31 titles of the tortured and the twisted – which were also produced by Republic Pictures and PRC – will never rise above their threadbare grouping and, between you and me, that’s perfectly fine. Not every film needs to be worth a million dollars to be successful.

Starring Bela Lugosi as the grieving Dr. Charles Kessler and Polly Ann Young as his daughter, Invisible Ghost is an early entry into the foray of cheaply made horror films by producer Sam Katzman and it shows with minimal scene changes and a scarcity in set details, but that only adds to the creep factor in this twisted Jekyll & Hyde-like tale. The film co-stars John McGiure (The Prisoner of Shark Island) who desires the hand of Victoria and Clarence Muse (The Black Stallion) as his routine-keeping butler.  

Invisible Ghost is about a haunted man who simply cannot escape the control of his dominating wife (Betty Compson). She left him years ago for another man, but was in a nasty car crash shortly after leaving him. Kessler has been nursing a broken heart and some homicidal tendencies ever since she left him in the spooky old mansion he calls home.

Little does he know that she’s a lot closer to him than he thinks she is. You see, his kind-hearted gardener found her after the car crash and saved her life, pulling her free from the wreckage and nursing her back from death. Yet, as a result of her injuries, she’s suffering from brain damage. Not wanting to disappoint his hopes for a reunion, he felt the best place for her recovery was in Kessler’s own basement.

And, on pitch-black nights when the moon is full, she goes on walks and haunts Kessler, who becomes transfixed by her presence out in the yard and then does awful things to the household staff.

The body count is high in this one. Lugosi, with long and twisting fingers, stomps through the house when possessed by her spirit. His transformation from the grieving soul to the murderous one is actually pretty damn brilliant. Of course, he’s terror on two feet and his reign is a short one. The features clocks in at a breezy 64-minutes and the sleuthing by the detectives brought in generic at best.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics has been doing a fine job with bringing these films to blu-ray.   Their respectful treatment of the director Joseph H. Lewis’ Invisible Ghost is to be commended.

Blu-ray Specifications:

Invisible Ghost is presented in 1080p with a crisp transfer that handles the blacks and grays quite well. Shadows, while not too terribly detailed, are thick and atmospheric throughout. Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the film looks marvelous and easily beats the poor appearance on television and on home video DVD that has previously dogged it. The sound is presented in a solid DTS-HD Master Audio English track that is perfect for the film’s low budget demands.

Commentary:

Featuring Film Historians Tom Weaver, Gary Rhodes, and Dr. Robert J. Kiss, this commentary is both informative and interesting. It is a definite must.

Special Features:

Trailers for other Kino Lorber Studio Classics titles are all that is included.

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