Invisible Ghost (1941)
It was ghastly. I don’t believe I was ever more startled in my life than when Mrs. Mason screamed…
~Bela Lugosi as Mr. Kessler
Bela Lugosi made a total of 9 films under producer Sam Katzman while at Monogram Pictures. These of course were ultra low-budget films geared toward neighborhood theaters. They range from being ridiculous and tremendously entertaining (The Ape Man, 1943) to being yawners (Bowery at Midnight, 1942). Voodoo Man (1944) benefits from a fun cast including Lugosi, John Carradine and George Zucco, and direction by William “One Shot” Beaudine. At least that’s my opinion. However, all are worth seeing do to Lugosi’s presence.
- Invisible Ghost (1941)
- Spooks Run Wild (1941)* – with the East Side Kids
- The Corpse Vanishes (1942)
- Bowery at Midnight (1942)
- The Ape Man (1943)
- Ghosts on the Loose (1943)* – with the East Side Kids
- Black Dragons (1944)
- Voodoo Man (1944)
- Return of the Ape Man (1944)
Invisible Ghost (1941) features Lugosi as sleep-walking looney Mr. Kessler, who mourns the memory of his cheating wife and seeks revenge on women by suffocating them with his robe.
The great Clarence Muse (Porgy and Bess, 1959; Car Wash, 1976; The Black Stallion, 1979) plays Kessler’s butler. Muse is good in this film sans the comedic Willie Best/Mantan Moreland stereotypes, and plays the role straight up. Lugosi’s character is surprisingly sympathetic and he is given some latitude and depth, playing the emotionally-disturbed Kessler. Lugosi was such an underrated actor.
Invisible Ghost is atmospheric too and gets going when Bela starts creeping around. I like the use of thunderstorms, lightning, falling ran and the usual “old dark house” accoutrements to make this one of the more atmospheric Bela-Monogramers.
Get ’em Bela…
Check out this cool French-language (Belgian?) poster: