Allow me to just get the disappointment off my chest right away. Several sites on the internet, including IMDb (from which the others are presumably taking their info) give the description of this film as “A crazed scientist invents an invisibility formula. He plans to use the formula to create an army of invisible zombies.” Readers, there is no army of invisible zombies. There is not even one invisible zombie. In point of fact, there is not even a mention of an invisible zombie. There is mention of plans for an invisible army, but it’s an army of the more literal sort, with soldiers and spies being made more effective through the use of invisibility.
And the scientist isn’t even crazed. He’s just distressed. He’s not even the bad guy.
OK, I suppose mucking about with radioactive materials to produce invisibility might qualify as a little crazy, but I’ve known office administrators with a looser grasp of reality.
Now, misleading advertising — particularly advertising made 50 years after the film — is hardly the fault of the movie. But the movie has its own faults in abundance. The story opens with a man named Joseph Faust (Douglas Kennedy) being broken out of prison. With a name like Faust, one might expect some symbolism there, but he’s not the scientist, though one supposes he does get a deal with the devil. Faust is a safecracker, an exceptionally renowned one. He’s brought to the rural home of one Major Krenner (James Griffith), and Krenner has an offer for him. Krenner is funding a scientist who is working on an invisibility ray, but the ray requires rare radioactive ingredients — and Krenner is persona non-grata with the government, having gone rogue. Krenner is willing to pay Faust handsomely if he’ll subject himself to the ray, and then go and steal the isotopes needed to increase production. Of course, Krenner has his own ideas — such an ability would be a wonder in bank robbing.
It’s a low-budget film with a very small cast. There are essentially five main players, and most of them are standard roles. Marguerite Chapman plays the femme fatale who wants to play Krenner and Faust off of each other. Boyd ‘Red’ Morgan plays Krenner’s guardsman. There’s a noir-ish element to the film, and director Edgar G. Ulmer does have a background in that genre. The characters aren’t really likeable, and mostly aren’t meant to be; they’re meant to be interesting to look at as they oppose each other. There are no heroes here, and the closest thing to an innocent is the scientist (Ivan Triesault) who is working under coercion from Krenner. Unfortunately, while the characters are meant to be interesting, they largely fail to be. The roles are cookie cutter, with little in the way of personality to distinguish them from their counterparts in other, better films, and the performances are unemotional and stiff. The story is pedestrian and dull, and it’s only a mercy that it ends after just an hour. The film isn’t exactly unwatchable… it just doesn’t give any reasons to watch it.