Director: James Whale
Stars: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers
Though often regarded as one of the great Universal-made, black-and-white horror movies, director James Whale's The Invisible Man is, at its core, a sci-fi flick, and a stellar one at that. Claude Rains stars as a scientist who discovers how to generate invisibility while conducting tests with a new, experiment drug. As he becomes drunk with power, the lab-man starts killing people and kicking creepy nursery rhymes while his face is wrapped in a cloth.
Yeah, The Invisible Man does have some horror elements, but Whale's genre classic is ultimately beaming with science fiction influence and a subversive streak of comedy. Based on a novel by sci-fi giant H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man turned heads back in '33 with its groundbreaking special effects; to achieve the illusion of invisibility, the FX team used black velvet backgrounds positioned behind a black-suited Rains, which, in some ways, was a precursor to the green screen technology that's so prevalent in today's sci-fi filmmaking.
The film's real draw, though, remains Rains, who owns the proceedings with his maniacal voice acting. Both funny and disturbing, his performance places The Invisible Man within the upper echelon of sci-fi's greatest villains. He's also one of the most self-restrained-how Mr. Invisible doesn't use his abilities to enter a women's changing room at any point in the movie is beyond us.