“I could feel it coming crawling into my cells.”
Dr. Janos Rukh (Boris Karloff) has invented a telescope that can look deep into space and into the past. He can photograph light rays from the Andromeda Galaxy. It is a theory that he has had for years, however his colleagues have scoffed at him. He has invited two of his most ardent skeptics to his planetarium. Dr. Benet (Bela Lugosi) and Sir Francis Stevens (Walter Kingsford). With them are Rukh’s wife Diana (Frances Drake), Sir Stevens’s wife Lady Arabella (Beulah Bondi) and Lady Arabella’s nephew Ronald Drake (Frank Lawton). Looking into the past they watch a large meteorite smash into the Earth a billion years ago. It lands in what is now the continent of Africa. Astounded by the demonstration the group decides to go on an expedition to try to locate the impact site.
When Rukh finds the meteorite he does extensive experiments with it. He ends up exposed to an as yet unknown radiation. They call it "Radium X". Radium X is a poison that causes Rukh to glow in the dark. It causes his touch to be deadly. The Radium X also begins to affect his mind. He races to base camp and pleads with Dr. Benet to find a way to neutralize Radium X's effects.
Although Benet can not find a cure, he manages to develop a serum that holds the lethal effects at bay. Benet warns Rukh that he must take regular doses of the antidote or he will revert to being lethal. And he will die. He also warns Rukh that he doesn’t know what the effects of the radiation may have on his mind. He warns Rukh to be careful. To try to protect Diana Rukh refuses to see her and cuts off all contact with her. Diana now believes that Rukh no longer loves her and she has fallen in love with Drake. There is nothing for her to do but leave the jungle and return to Europe.
Benet takes a piece of the meteorite back to Europe. He modifies it and uses it to cure people. One of the uses is to cure blindness. Rukh is also using it for similar purposes. Rukh cures his mother’s blindness. Unfortunately the exposure that Rukh endured to Radium X has affected his mind. He now believes that everyone is out to steal his discovery. Now, basically mad, he is out for revenge. In his warped brain he believes he must kill everyone who he feels has wronged him. Even his wife.
“The Invisible Ray” was produced in 1936 and was directed by Lambert Hillyer. This was the fourth movie that Lugosi and Karloff did together. All I have to say about their performances is that they were both awesome.
Most people think “The Invisible Ray” is a horror movie when actually it is straight science fiction. People are use to seeing both Karloff and Lugosi as monsters or battling monsters. Here they are scientists discovering ‘actual’ creation. The creation of the universe.
Whatever is out there in the blackness of space is as unknown now as it was in 1936. We have come no closer to discovering the creation of the universe now, as we did back then. The potential dangers the human race faced back then are the same as what we could encounter today. There is nothing in this movie that could not happen if the circumstances were right. That is what makes this an awesome movie. And potentially very frightening.
If you are a science fiction fan, this is something you may want to check out.