Monday, May 31, 2021

Back to School (1986)

Rodney Dangerfield is still fondly remembered as one of America's greatest comic talents, from his successful stand-up circuits, to his numerous film appearances, including his star-making turn in Caddyshack. Out of all of his solo features though, the most known and well-loved has got to be 1986's Back to School...

Thornton Melon is a successful older man, who dropped out of high school to start a clothes business and has never looked back. Now a millionaire, he can buy anything he wants, but is interested more in the little things, and in having fun. Eager to see how his son Jason is doing in college, he's dismayed to see he's thinking about dropping out. Determined to see his son not repeat his own past, Thornton re-enrolls,    college along with him...

Back to School is your quintessential 80s college comedy. Simple, engaging, and has got a great lead, with some good stakes. The driving concept is an amusing one, and always handled well. Even though the idea of an older man attending college is commonplace nowadays, the movie's presentation never feels old or dated, but is still just as fresh and original as it was back in the day.

The comedy always lands, with lots of witty dialogue and one-liners, and many funny scenes, like when successful business owner Thornton gives his economics class some unorthodox tips, only to be chastised by the teacher for 'not being realistic'.

Thornton is a great lead, with lots of spirit and humour, but also irresponsible and lazy in some ways, making him flawed enough to not be superhuman, and to need to do some hard work himself to make it through to the movie's end. Something I liked about his character is how he throws about his money. It's not in a = sense, but more that he genuinely doesn't need it. He comes across as an incredibly thrifty guy who just so happens to have millions of dollars, so he doesn't mind tipping a waiter $100 bucks, or giving fancy pens to his classmates, as long as it's helping someone. His whole philosophy is nice too. Despite not having a finished education, he still holds his father's ideals on the subject in high esteem, and intends to make sure his son lives up to them.

His son Jason is the polar opposite, and while he can have his whiney moments, and whether or not you side with him in these moments is up for debate, but he is always a good supporting lead. His friend Derek is a total weirdo in the best way, while Thornton's chauffeur Lou is a great foil, always a fun presence, low-key but distinct.

English professor Diane and student Valerie are both sweet ladies. As love interests though they can be real pains! Diane spends a good chunk of the movie dating the crotchety Business dean, clearly one inch away from ditching him, and always having the hots for Thornton, but still carries her man around. Then when she takes her boyfriend to one of Thornton's party's, she sees him in a hot-tub with some scantily clad ladies, and has the nerve to be offended! Are you forgetting you came here with your boyfriend, honey? I don't think you have any call judging Thornton! Jason's beau Valerie is similar, spending over half of the movie technically dating his meathead rival, despite knowing from their first scene that he's a dickhead, and liking Jason the whole time.

The villains are a suitably dastardly bunch. You've got the asshole jock, who ticks all the expected boxes, and is a love to hate him type baddie. The professor meanwhile is your typical crusty effete dean, who can't stand anything that isn't strictly by the book.

The cast assembled for Back to School is great. Dangerfield is a naturally charismatic lead, always making you smile, while the more down-to-earth Keith Gordon makes for a good counterbalance. Sally Kellerman is a nice addition, and an adorably young Terry Farrell is lovely! Robert Downey Jr. has a funny supporting role, really getting some crazy material to chew on. 'Angry' comedian Sam Kinion has a small but hilariously memorable part. Then you've got actors like Billy Zabka, Burt Young, Ned Beatty, etc, all bringing their usual archetypical performances to the table. There are also a few unexpected cameos to enjoy.

The music here is like a great 80s playlist, and has neat college tracks too, feeling nice and authentic. There's also a fun appearance by Oingo Boingo, a tolerable cover of Twist and Shout with a hilarious twist by the end, and the groovy title song.

Back to School really is the perfect comfort food movie. If you're feeling down, or just wanna watch a comedy or 80s classic, this'll tick all the boxes and then some!...

Pyjama Party (1964)

Gogo is a young martian sent to Earth as reconnaissance/a scout for an upcoming invasion. He lands at the house of Aunt Wendy, a charmingly dotty older lady who takes an immediate liking to who she considers to be a strapping young man. While  Daisy's neighbour J. Sinister Hulk is plotting  scheme to steal her vast fortune, and between him, bikie Eric von Zipper, and all the rowdy teens on the beach, the Martians will be left wondering if they ever stood a chance...

Pyjama Party represents the first real confusion in the Beach Party chronology. The AIP teen series had a main cast and setting in each film, but every now and then you'd get a diversion. Sergeant Deadhead for example shares the tone and much of the cast, but none of the characters. Ski Party had the naming the same, but was otherwise unconnected. While Pyjama Party (yes, I said pyjama, not pajama! Take note]!) is the same, barring some notable exceptions. This kind of thing does muddy up the waters a little, and make it unclear which movies you can really count as part of the series or not. Pyjama Party is one of the more clearer cut examples of a side entry, yet also just as confusing, if not moreso. But this is probably all thinking way harder about the subject than the folks at AIP ever intended.

Pyjama Party is a film I used to have very different thoughts on. Back when I first got into the series, I caught this on tv, and had very strong, negative opinions on it. I wrote a brief post outlining my general thoughts. I was annoyed by the main character, I didn't like the plot, which was outlandish even for a Bikini film, and a lot of little things bugged me. Though even then I did recognise there were really good qualities, I switched off halfway through. It's been a few years now, and I've always intended to give it a full watch-through, especially curious how I'll see it now. Would I think the same, or would my opinion have changed? Well now I can say that yes, it actually has!

Pyjama Party contains everything you'd expect from the series. As the 4th (or 5th, it's hard to keep straight at this point!) entry in the series it makes for a fresh enough diversion, featuring enough new elements, but also enough of the old.

Amusingly enough, not only did I enjoy the first half a lot more this time round, it's actually the unseen second half I didn't like as much! Although it's not the fault of those acts, but the movie as a whole. This leads me into Pyjama Party's big issue-The structure. We've got at least 3 different plots here vying for screentime, along with a plethora of little subplots to boot. They're all good, but none get as much time to really  breath as they could've. The fact that Martians are plotting an invasion of Earth almost feels like an afterthought at times!

The film stars Annette Funicello  but not as Deedee, and her love interest here is Tommy Kirk. No other familiar characters feature among the beach teens either. With all these differences, is there anything familiar here? Why yes, there sure is-Eric von Zipper and his Rat Pack!

They're always a hoot, especially in the therapy scene, where they act like parents to a toddler after Eric's near death scrape during the chase sequence. Some of their best scenes in the series are here! Their reasons for being invovled in the plot are pretty flimsy at first, but they gradually get more of a connection, leading to a brawl in the climax, and some hilariously old-fashioned PJ's!

The acting  is pretty neat all round. The best performance by far comes from Elsa Lanchester, who is such an old dear! She breathes full life into her character, and delivers each line in hilarious and = ways.   Tommy Kirk is a serviceable enough lead here. Nothing remarkable, but not as bad or grating as I first thought. Annette Funicello can do these kinds of roles in her sleep, and has a great level of sass.

Jesse White is fun as the wonderfully named villain, with Ben Lessy doing well as his long suffering assistant. Buster Keaton and Bobbi Shaw make for a great pair too, with Keaton especially doing a funny job as a Native American goofball/=. Jody McCrea is amusing, and feels different enough from his other Beach Party character, while still filling the role of a simple minded dope. Harbey Lembeck and his crew are on perfect form as the Rat Pack, with special mention going to the lovely Alberta Nelson.

The songs in Pyjama party are all fun, typical songs of the 1960s pop scene. First is the intro theme, which is an enjoyable teen anthem. That's the Way it's Done Among the Young feels less like an organic song and more like a random pop charter = in (performed by Donna Loren and the = named Nooney Rickett 4). It's a good song though, barring the annoying end.

There Has to be a Reason is a nice romantic number (which itself is amusing considering these two have only just met!), though the [sound sounds] off, like the song was recorded on a different = than everything else.   Where Did I Go Wrong has an amusing presentation and dynamic ring to it, even if it is a bit hurried and repetitive. It also gives Dorothy Lamour her final musical performance in a film! It may annoy some (like me several years ago), but others may like it (like me now).

Stuffed Animal is a cute and melancholy tune that Annette sings with her cuddly bedside friends, much to the = of her roommates. And lastly, Pyjama Party Tonight is a peppy final number, really getting you in the mood for a party. Overall I don't have any problems with the songs, though there are a few gaps here and there. The movie isn't that long, but it still feels like a little too much time passes between some numbers.

I have zero complaints with the direction here. It's all perfectly competent, and everything from the chases, to the songs, and the frequent dancing, are all shot well. Also, this is a random observation, but this is the second Beach Party film I've seen to feature someone coming out of a grandfather clock, which makes me wonder if Jean Rollin really was a fan!

Unlike last time, I do recommend Pyjama Party. If you're not a fan of the goofy antics this series had to offer, this is not likely to impress you, but it's a harmless and amusing film, and fits well into the series...

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Vampire Bat (1933)

A mysterious plague of deaths has struck the sleepy village of Kleinschloss, and the superstitious townsfolk immediately jump to the conclusion of vampires, suspecting the bat-fancying simpleton Herman. The local inspector Karl Breettschneider has other ideas though, determined that a more human murderer is at work here. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Ruth works for a mild-mannered local scientist, who is conducting innocuous experiments in his castle home.  However, unbeknownst to the rest of the village, Dr. von Niemann has other more sinister motives at play...

The Vampire Bat is everything great about 1930s horror! There's murder, mystery, and mayhem, all in a classic time and place. A somewhat creative mix of old and new, it's a fairly simple tale. That way it focuses on what's important and pays enough attention to that for everything to be sufficiently fleshed out.

The Vampire Bat was a low budget production, shot in the off-hours of more 'important' pictures. This is a surprise to hear, as it's a very good looking movie! The cobblestoned village looks great, feeling like a convincing Germanic location, while the castles and laboratories are all neat, filled to the brim with fancy looking doodads.

The main villain here is a neat one! Kind at first glance, he turns malevolent behind closed doors, and makes for a spooky presence, even if he is only human. The 'vampiric' manservant though was a bit confusing. I understood his role by the end, but that's a little late. Herman is a good red herring, acting very creepy, but we know he's not actually bad, just different. And he ends up suffering dearly for it!

Sadly there is not an actual vampire here, or even a giant bat, but that's ok, since it'd only validate these superstitious assholes if it turned out vampires were real (plus, it helps we already have plenty of movies that fit those bills). The actual solution ends up being surprisingly different, taking the movie into more abstract Frankenstein territory, almost to the point of mild science-fiction. It's a neat mix, coming up without you realising, and not feeling out of left field when it shows up.

The remainder of the cast are effective enough in their small but important roles. At only an hour long, The Vampire Bat doesn't want for any extra story, telling plenty to fill out the runtime, and wrapping everything up satisfactorily. The only thing I feel it lacks is punishment for the bastards who killed poor Herman! They oughta have been strung up and exsanguinated!

Melvyn Douglas is a fine lead, just your typical handsome fellow. Fay Wray is always a treat to see, and delivers a good performance, both as a lighthearted romantic plus scientist, and also as a petrified damsel. A couple of lines come off a bit over the top, but she does well. Lionel Atwill is great as the villain, polite and unassuming, until he's exposed, and he rants and raves like a quintessential mad scientist. Dwight Frye is great as the creepy yet gentle Herman, while Robert Frazer does well in his Dracula-esque role. And lastly, Maude Eburn makes for a decent comic relief.

The direction in The Vampire Bat is stellar. The shots are frequently stylish and brilliantly arranged, even in moments where they didn't need to be. This goes to show just how much the people behind the scenes cared about this production.

One drawback that does affect the movie though is the lack of soundtrack. In some scenes the silence works well (or even works wonders), but in others you wish there was a traditional atmospheric track playing, to run a shiver down your spine. Instead there's nothing. I didn't even realise until late into the film, but once I did I was able to put my finger on what felt missing the whole time.

The Vampire Bat is a nifty example of classical horror of the 30s, and like all movies of the time it has a good moral. To all scientists, it's really not sensible to bother creating life when it's only an inanimate ball of flesh that needs 10 corpses a week to survive. It's uncanny how movies like this could so perfectly understand human nature and offer us such wonderful teaching moments...

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)

After a tremendous storm, a mysterious egg washes up on the local beach. The townspeople promptly sell it when the unscrupulous Happy Fun corporation come knocking, much to the frustration of a scientist, who teams up with some journalists to do a little digging. On their travels they meet the Fairy Twins of Infant Island, who implore them to retrieve their sacred egg before it hatches. Their initial plans fail, and soon a new threat looms when Godzilla awakes. It seems only the twins' spirit guardian Mothra can help, but will she save those who stole her egg?...

Mothra vs. Godzilla, not to be confused with later entry Godzilla vs. Mothra, is his first encounter with the fluttery female kaiju. And what a classic encounter it is! Almost 60 years later this still holds up brilliantly. A brisk yet eventful movie, that never slows down.

The story is a fairly simple one, but told strongly. We completely understand the positions of each party, from the desperate Infant Islanders to the conniving corporation, and the helpless humans/reporters.

Beyond the base story, there's plenty of satire and commentary here about the evils of big business, all delivered in a way that's effective, fun, and not too preachy. There's also a good message about humanity's capacity for working together for the common good, even when we don't get along.

The movie's human leads are a pair of plucky newspaper staff and their scientist buddy. The trio have a nice dynamic, though the two men often blended together, and the = banter between reporter Ichiro and his photographer Junko is often sidelined or completely forgotten. Understandably I suppose, since one tends to forget their little feuds when giant moths hire them to find their eggs.

I felt they were underused by the last act though. The movie seemed like it was setting them up for something big, with their editor reminding them of the power of the press. They shouldn't give up hope of stopping the Happy Fun group, because the pen is STRONG...Then nothing really happens. The two evil businessmen just get randomly stomped on by Godzilla after their own scuffle and that's all solved. I would've preferred the heroes to have done something proactive in stopping them. Perhaps they could've somehow exposed the group's illicit dealings, and that's why the billionaire almost seems on the run in his last scene.

The Fairy Twins are a breath of fresh air. Usually supernatural messengers are ominous or threatening, but even when they're delivering warnings, or declining requests for help, they do so with such politeness. They even ask the villains to kindly return the egg! I also found how people react to them hilarious, especially when one of the heroes responded to their story with "I believe them" after they said the egg was theirs. He doesn't bat an eyelid at meeting these tiny women, and only believes them because their story is convincing, not because they're magical fairies. Junko also says "Let's hear their story first", as if to imply the fairies could be liars.

The bad guys have a great role here. While we don't get as much of them as I'd have liked, there's enough. The standout is the portly Kumayama, who's always got an excuse for everything (including for why he hasn't paid you yet), comes up with amusing ways of pricing giant mystery eggs, and would sell his own mother if he could.

The monsters here are handled in a mixed way. Whenever they're onscreen, it's wonderful! But that's the problem. It takes Godzilla over half an hour to appear! Before that point, he's literally never even mentioned, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a Mothra solo adventure. She fares a little better. Her introduction is surprisingly early and random, but nice all the same.

Godzilla is his usual angry self, going on a rampage, and expressing his distaste for Japanese architecture, old and new. This was the last entry for a while where he was exclusively the bad guy, but even here he's more of a pissed off force of nature. He causes destruction, but more because it's in his way, and he hasn't had his morning coffee yet. He even kills the human villains, so thanks Godzilla!

Mothra is a perfect counterpoint to Godzilla. Feminine, gentle, and always willing to help humanity in a pinch, even if she might knock over a building or two along the way. The whole mythology around her and the Infant Islanders is great, and they are portrayed as a very interesting culture.

The overall direction here is stellar. Ishiro Honda does a wonderful job at framing even smaller scenes, and the larger scale ones are a marvel. Locations are very believable, with the crew either making a fleet of tiny boats, or actually crafting a giant egg prop and sticking in the ocean, presumably hoping the thing would float! Infant Island is portrayed in an almost harrowing manner, showing off perfectly the scale of devastation nuclear testing can bring. The monsters look great with their surroundings, and there's never an unbelievable moment. The rampages and monster fights are shot really well.

Godzilla is designed well as always, and his tail has an interesting degree of animation this time round, almost wriggling like a snake. Mothra meanwhile is a technological wonder, flying and moving very convincingly, even in combat! Shes' also very pretty, too!

The acting here is all nice, with good leads, villains, and an inspired turn by twin singers Emi and Yumi Ito (aka The Peanuts). Something I miss about older movies is that not everything had to star a celebrity. Japanese movies would often just star regular actors. Popular, yeah, but many films nowadays feel the need to cram in a big name  just for the sake of it, leading to  In movies like this though, they feel more like real people.

Akira Ifukube delivers yet another wonderful score. The recurring tracks still hold up brilliantly, creating a perfect atmosphere as the monsters rampage. They make things feel so epic and dramatic. Then on the other side of the spectrum we have some fairy tale-esque tracks, that five those moments a serene almost fantasy feel. The songs the Fairy Twins sing are wonderful too.

Considered by many to be one of the series's best moments, Mothra vs. Godzilla is a great time. It's a nice introduction to the series, and would lay the groundwork for a lot to come in the future...

Monday, May 10, 2021

Shriek (2000)

When Scream came out in 1996, it breathed new life into the horror genre, giving way to a 'teen horror' boom that permeated the market. Not everyone is a fan of scream especially not the often mediocre films it left in its wake, but one can't deny it was a pretty influential movie. It received a parody in the form of Scary Movie, while while some question the need for such a thing when Scream was already a pretty meta commentary, that was a pretty popular movie, and spawned its own series. But it wasn't the only parody of Scream out there...

At Bulimia Falls high school, the students are being murdered one by on. As the useless authorities try and find the killer, five teenagers realise they are specifically marked for death by this mysterious killer. They set out to discover their identity, and to stop them before they too are cut down in their prime...

I first saw Shriek as a young child, and greatly enjoyed it, even if I didn't totally get all the jokes. I hadn't seen it since then, and was a little worried about whether it would hold up or not. Thankfully while Shriek might not be a perfect movie, it still entertains.

The full name of the movie is Shriek if You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th, which is bloated and unnecessary. I always just knew it as Shriek, ala Scream. Either that lengthy title was dropped for its Australian release, or I just never noticed the smaller print.

The story here is your typical tale of high school students with secrets, who start dropping like flies. It takes inspiration from Scream in how the killer looks, but a lot of the story beats actually come from I Know What You Dd Last Summer, which helps differentiate this from Scary Movie. Even though both films poke fun at the genre as a whole, that film's main target was Scream. The plot here isn't exactly cohesive, with many threads and tangents that never really add in, and are only inserted for a laugh. This works reasonably well, since this isn't a story anyone would take seriously to begin with.

The sense of humour in Shriek might divide. It's pretty puerile and lowbrow. Cleaner in some ways that Scary Movie, but still pretty gross at times, with a frankly annoying preoccupation on sex and teen pregnancy jokes. Other jokes I still don't get all these years later, like the whole deer flasback with Dawson. These bits aside though, I laughed quite a bit here. It's by no means intelligent humour, but a lot of it works reasonably well.

As a parody, Shriek definitely wears its inspirations on its sleeve, with a few overt shoutouts to movies like Airplane, and to Leslie Nielsen. These are pretty unsubtle, but are at least respectful.

Another thing to note, Shriek feels very much of its time in that it's a product of the late 90s/early 2000s, so your tolerance of the movie really depends on your feelings toward this particular period. As for me I grew up with it AND I don't like it, so that's already two reasons why movies like this aren't usually on my radar. As for Shriek, it's obviously good that I can enjoy it, though it still definitely bears all the hallmarks of the era.

The characters here are a weird bunch, each with their own quirks and cliches, from the mysterious newcomer, to the witch main girl, the slutty cheerleader, the lame-o virgin, and dumb jock. Despite being the only characters actually sent threatening letters, they make it through most of the movie unharmed, with the killer mainly targeting random students in the background for much of the runtime. The killer has an amusing enough personality, which can be seen despite always wearing a mask, although I really coulda done without that shower scene, yikes/yeesh!

The actors all do decent enough performances too, barring a couple of pretty bland ones. Of note are Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Simon Rex, alumni of later Scary Movie entries, and Julie Benz. Coolio also features in a Prince parody, and surprisingly Shirley Jones (of The Partridge Family), and Rose Marie have small roles too, not that I noticed them.

There's a pretty decent soundtrack on display here, with the most notable being a cover version of Pretty in Pink. No idea why it plays, especially in the scene it does, but it makes for a fun addition, and if t was intended in the spirit of homage, then I appreciate it, even if it is the wrong genre altogether.

Shriek may not be the funniest movie around, and not the best parody, but it's a lot better than its reputation suggests. Far from being the worst movie ever, it's leagues above the horrible parody movies that would come, and is worth a watch if it's your cup of tea...

The Invisible Ray (1936)

Disgraced scientist Janos Rukh manages to regain his reputation with a fantastic new discovery, which leads to an expedition into the heart of Africa in search of a special new element. While there however, the element proves too deadly, warping Rukh's body to the point where he glows and kills anything he touches. He manages to keep the condition at bay with the help from former rival Dr. Felix Benet, but his wife has already left him. As his mind starts to go, Janos begins plotting a terrible revenge against all those who wronged him...

The great Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi made for a great team throughout the years, often proving great foils to each-other. The Invisible Ray is no exception, delivering a pretty neat story! It ticks a lot of the boxes you'd expect from a sci-fi/horror film of the era, but gets there in some creative ways. We get atmospheric scientific demonstrations in Carpathia, expeditions in the sun-drenched African wilderness, and more!

What I liked about the plot is how unexpected and against the norm certain events are. I appreciated how Dr. Rukh goes from being a pariah to a trusted scientist once more, given credit for his discoveries rather than scoffed at, and his fellow scientists don't turn on him. Even when they recognise he might be going a little loopy, they don't demand his arrest, nor steal the credit, they just take the element out of his hands, which is sensible enough. Unfortunately everything goes so swimmingly that it's hard to understand why Janos would become so bitter and pissed off at everyone. Thankfully the movie at least has the excuse of "He's going crazy!" to fall back on, but it feels a bit unwarranted at times.

Janos Rukh is a fleshed out villain, if you can even call him that. He's both hero and antagonist here, with a sympathetic plight, and the events he undergoes cause a mostly believable descent into madness and villainy. One thing that did disappoint me thought is that he turns glowing and deadly, then is immediately given an antidote for this until like the last 5 minutes!

mother  speaks like a seer   At times she comes across as an old biddy, who's apparently can't stand to see her son be happy.

Dr. Benet is a likeable ally and friend to all, even if he looks like a diabolical villain. Seriously, no good can come of someone with a goatee like his!

Janos's wife Diane is nice enough at first, and loyal to her husband. But the instant a young Americnn popped up at the castle, and said "Oh. I see." when discovering she was spoken for, you just know the pair are gonna end up together. And end up they do. It's really shitty of them! Rukh is a good caring husband, and it doesn't feel like a marriage of convenience either. And yet halfway through the film she just ditches her hubby to be with another dude! Then, the instant she finds out he's dead, she doesn't waste any time in ringing wedding bells. I can picture her saying "Though I am with you in body and soul, we can never be married while my old husband still lives...Wait, he's dead? Woo, let's get to the church before sundown, honey!". I was hoping Boris would kill them both, but sadly they avoid his wrath by virtue of being the handsome young couple.

The rest of the cast are good. Sir Francis and his wife Lady Arabella are a delight. Goofy and lighthearted, they're pretty good comic relief. They never intrude too much on the rest of the film, and give some funny moments to the picture. Now we come to the second most annoying thing about Invisible Ray. It kills off all the comic relief! Crazy, I know? These are such goofy characters, who not only lighten up the film, but are some of the only characters I didn't want dead, and yet they get violently murdered!

The acting in The Invisible Ray is great. Boris looks as different here as he did in many other of his movies. The man was a real master of disguise, and thrived on never looking the same twice. He almost looks like a hunchbacked Mexican here! It's funny the effect a big overcoat and a lower posture can have. The curly hair looks different too, giving him an almost Latin feel when combined with his darker complexion, and the overall effect makes this character look unique when compared to other mad scientists he played over the years.

Bela is good too. While you might be fooled at times thanks to his appearance and the occasional ominous line delivery, he is not playing a bad guy here. This does mean he can't go all out with his performance, but he is still a great addition to the cast. I also find it amusing that Boris's character has a Hungarian name, yet he's British, and Bela, who actually is Hungarian, is playing a Frenchman! They were such cosmopolitan actors.

The rest of the cast do decent jobs, barring one amusingly melodramatic maid. Everyone dies convincingly enough, although there is one scene with a dog that would be unpleasant if not for the adorable dog actor, who simply lies down on command (presumably with the aid of a cue card from behind the camera). I wonder how many takes it took! I can imagine Boris laughing at the dog panting happily, going "Steady on, old chap, you're supposed to be playing dead".

The effects in The Invisible Ray are a real high point! Rukh's scientific demonstration is conceived really well, especially for a film from 1936! You don't usually expect the effects in horror films back then to be this good! Clearly a lot of money and effort went into this production. The glowing effect for Boris is decent enough, and the melting scenes are pulled off very well. 

The locales all look good, from ancient Hungarian castles, to cobblestoned French streets, and the wilds of Africa. There's a ton of visual variety here.

Overall, The Invisible Ray is a nifty little slice of 1930s horror, with a lot to enjoy, and two great leads to give you a nice radioactive jolt. It also gives a strong moral in the form of 'Don't be unfaithful to your significant other if they've just been transformed into a radioactive killing machine'...