The Invisible Ghost

February 27, 2013 at 1:51 am (6 Heads, Invisible Ghost) (, , , , , )

The Invisible Ghost – 1941 – United States

A rich man is deranged by grief after his wife runs off with another lover. Years later, the rich man still loves her deeply, but seeing her face induces a homicidal trance. His wife is even crazier. Unbeknownst to him, she lives in the cellar below his manor, only leaving to shamble dazedly about the grounds. Each time the rich man spots her eerie figure, he becomes possessed, unwittingly strangling one of his servants. The murders perpetuate for years. Eventually, a young man is erroneously convicted of the killings and sentenced to death. His twin brother (played by the same actor) visits the manor to seek justice. The rich man is ultimately exposed as the murderer. In the stirring climax, he is stunned with guilt by the revelation of his unconscious crimes. Peacefully, he submits to the police.

The Invisible Ghost was produced by the thrifty Sam Katzman for “poverty row” studio Monogram Pictures. Cheapness aside, Invisible Ghost is unusually effective due to its emphasis on characters. Bela Lugosi is endearing as the compassionate rich man, and his psychosis is piteous and tragic. Equally important is Clarence Muse (a pioneering black actor) as his wise and devoted butler. Invisible Ghost’s messy plot is illogical but the well-defined and charismatic characters are so engrossing that it doesn’t matter. By the heartrending finale, you may even shed a tear.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. When he isn’t playing a vampire or mad scientist, Bela Lugosi is like the lovable father you wish you had.

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