The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

invisible man returns poster 1940 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good visuals for the time

Wanted the Invisible Man to be a bit crazier

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Invisible Man Returns

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s):  January 12, 1940

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Even the Invisible Man wants to reach out and touch someone…

Sir Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) is sentenced to death for the murder of a man he didn’t kill.  With the help of Dr. Frank Griffin (  ), Radcliffe escapes jail by becoming invisible.  Now, the Invisible Man is roaming the countryside, and with the help of his girlfriend Helen Manson (Nan Grey) and Griffin, Radcliffe hopes to find the real killer.  Unfortunately, the invisible serum has side effects, and Radcliffe is slowly being killed by the maddening effects.

Directed by Joe May, The Invisible Man Returns is the follow-up to the hit Universal Monster movie The Invisible Man of 1933.  The film was relatively well received can often be found collected with The Invisible Man and other sequels.  The movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Effects, Special Effects (losing to The Thief of Bagdad).


I’m just an invisible man…down on his luck…

The Invisible Man was a hit film and like many of the hit Universal Monster films, it was seen as a profitable franchise…despite this, they waited seven years for a sequel.  With the death of Claude Rains, a new Invisible Man had to be selected and Vincent Price began his “reign of terror” in horror movies.

The story of The Invisible Man Returns transforms Claude Rains’ insane scientist to a bit of an antihero.  It doesn’t have many aspects of horror, nor is it much of a romance.  This entry is more of a sci-fi mystery.  I wish that they had made Radcliffe a little crazier and a little scarier.

Vincent Price isn’t Claude Rains, but still has fun with the role.  Rains character was insane and was allowed to be crazier.  Price has to solve a mystery and can’t be completely insane.  He is obviously the star of the film and has to do a lot without being seen.  Like Rains, he only appears at the end of the film when he returns to his normal form (after the healing nature of a blood transfusion).  This movie pretty much condemned Price to a life of horror films.


It is so embarrassing when my veins show

The Invisible Man Returns continues to have strong visuals for the time.  I like the shots and the low budget nature of the effects which still manage to impress for what it is.  The final image of Price becoming visible is done well and visually rather interesting.

The Invisible Man Returns shows a lightening of the Invisible Man’s story.  It isn’t as strong as the original film, but it is still enjoyable (and like many old monster movies rather short).  The series took a different turn in the third entry The Invisible Woman (also released in 1940) and turned the series into more of a romantic comedy.

Related Links:

The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Woman (1940)

Invisible Agent (1942)

The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944)

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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