Invisible Man Appears, 1949
I scored a copy of this film on a Japanese | Pioneer laserdisc found at the Cinema Wasteland convention, near Cleveland, Ohio. I had never heard of the film, but I was aware of the sequel The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly, 1957 (Tômei ningen to hae otoko), through the B-Movie podcast. Except for the lost films Wasei Kingu Kongu (1933) (which may have never existed) and King Kong Appears in Edo (1938), Daiei Studio’s Invisible Man Appears (Tômei ningen arawaru) (1949) is probably the earliest Japanese science fiction film ever made. It’s well made too, with special effects supervised by Eiji Tsuburaya.
The film is a very loose adaptation of H.G. Wells classic novel (1897), but adds a bit of intrigue with a jewelry heist and shadowy figures, and scientific mumbo jumbo. I noticed that some of the score appears to have been heisted from Max Steiner’s King Kong (1933).
The story of Invisible Man Appears more closely resembles Universal’s The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), with crime elements and diamond theft. The main character looks more akin to Jon Hall’s villain (image below) than Claude Raines in the original classic.
The laserdisc print is fairly faded, grainy and weathered. No restoration or sub-titles here! Invisible Man Appears is a minor gem and worth seeking out. They don’t make ’em like they used to.