John Carpenter is the filmmaker that shepherds in this little offshoot of the mad scientist sub genre in DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies, as we explore some of the Invisible Man stories…
Chevy Chase, Daryl Hannah, Sam Neill and Micheal McKean all come to play in this version of the story that sees Chase’s Nick Holloway turned invisible by a freak accident and consequently being pursued by Neill’s David Jenkins, a villainous CIA agent.
This is a bit of a unique film in Carpenter’s oeuvre as it’s a big budget, bug studio film, and he also doesn’t do any compositions for it. The score was by Shirley Walker.
With Carpenter’s usual style, the film is able to walk a fine line between funny, and an exploration of the loneliness that Nick goes thorough. Being invisible is shown to be not all that is cracked up to be.
Basically a chase movie, with a little exploration, comedy and romance on the side, Jenkins wants to capture Nick and either recruit him or kill him.
There are some really nice effects in the film, the building in which the accident occurs suffers some molecular damage, and it looks fantastic as Jenkins and his men arrive on the scene to investigate it.
There are nods to the original Invisible Man film, though this movie is loosely based on H.F. Saint’s Memoirs of an Invisible Man. There’s also a fun little line that pays homage to the Jimmy Stewart classic Harvey.
It’s been years since I watched this one, and I was ok with it the first time I saw it, I actually enjoyed it more this time around, though there is a troubling blackface moment with Chase’s character towards the climax of the film.
Still, the film, on the whole, largely works, it’s got a solid cast, it knows when to take a breath to laugh, and Carpenter knows how to make use of the budget he’s been given. I like the feel of it, and for the most part, Chase is enjoyable in the role, though he doesn’t quite portray the existential crisis that Nick is going through too well… It’s a good thing there’s a voice over narration to let us know for sure.
I do like the fact that the film does actually examine what it would be like to be truly invisible, and how it would affect your mental state (though that subject is only lightly brushed against in the film). Not only is Nick invisible, he has to do his best not to be detected by Jenkins’ and his men… a truly lonely existence.
But with Alice (Hannah) at his side, he may have a way out of it, and perhaps the pair can have a bit of a happy ending after all.
This one was fun, and for me, it’s always great to revisit a John Carpenter film. Why don’t you watch along with me? Pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something macabre to watch tonight!