Monday, April 30, 2012

The Amazing Transparent Man

I own a few of those Mill Creek Public Domain sets and have spent the last two months watching a film each Sunday night from one disc at a time. I have avoided those I might have seen in the past, but was in the mood to watch Edgar Ulmer's own take on invisibility and the dangers that could come from having such a power. I grinned as I watched it because, par for the course in an Ulmer film, the cast has some really nasty, crooked characters, although the screenplay dares to later show that even a few of them have some humanity about them. You have a Nazi scientist whose experiments in a concentration camp killed his own wife (he seems like a decent man, not the kind of inhuman, diabolical evil scientist one might normally visualize in such a part; he looks withered and browbeaten), a colonel who suffered an injury in the war that has left him deranged and cruel (using their pasts and current criminal status against them, he can blackmail to get what he wants) wanting an invisible army to do his bidding, a self-absorbed dame who wants a bigger piece of the pie than the colonel has been giving her, and an escaped bank robber Joey Faust, a dark soul who finds a little bit of humanity when it matters most. Faust is really shanghaied into agreeing to participate in the invisibility experiments, and the radiation used to turn him invisible have life-threatening effects that cannot be reversed. I never felt Ulmer was that interested in the invisible man parts of the story as much as following these crooked characters constantly backstabbing each other. All have agendas and their destruction is caused by the desire to benefit themselves. The very experiments that offered financial gain leads them down that path to their own doom. I think anyone that watches this will know right away that most of the principle cast are doomed, if just because they knowingly embrace the criminal lifestyle, certain to reap what they sow. You do get some invisible effects, but they are mainly used in two robberies. Instead, Ulmer keeps his film primarily in one location, at the colonel's secret hideaway, inside a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Always working with a shoestring, Ulmer opts to keep his films character-oriented and driven. It is interesting that so many of his films follow heels and derelicts of society, those with a nasty streak, who are looking for how they can get ahead at the expense of others.

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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...