blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Phantom Creeps (1939, Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind), Chapter 4: Invisible Terror

I suppose Invisible Terror, which doesn’t feature much invisible terror, is an improvement over the previous chapter. Terror does have Edward Van Sloan in a full flight suit waving a gun around threateningly. Not many opportunities to see such a thing.

The story continues to be Feds versus gangsters with Bela Lugosi (still thought dead) on the sidelines. Even when he uses his invisibility device to infiltrate the Feds’ headquarters–Edwin Stanley’s home lab. Stanley has an extremely dangerous substance and Robert Kent decides it’d be better to have it in a residential area than the government building in case it blows.


Kent–and lead sidekick Regis Toomey–can’t really get their heads around the case. For example, they think Jack C. Smith is one of the foreign agents, not Igoring for Lugosi. Kent once again shoots Smith multiple times–to get him to drop something–but it turns out okay because Lugosi can heal wounds with a ray.

It’s only the fourth chapter and the screenwriters have already given up on trying with the plot contrivances (maybe they did in the first and I’m blocking it). Dorothy Arnold just inserts herself into every situation, whether it makes sense or not.

The cliffhanger sequence is competently done, which is something. It’s not compelling because who cares, it doesn’t involve Lugosi and he’s all Creeps has got, but it is competently executed. Not sure much of it is original footage, so kudos to the editors for putting it together.

Shame they couldn’t make it dramatic too.


Directed by Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, and Mildred Barish, based on a story by Wyllis Cooper; directors of photography, Jerome Ash and William A. Sickner; edited by Irving Birnbaum, Joseph Gluck, and Alvin Todd; music by Charles Previn; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Bela Lugosi (Dr. Alex Zorka), Robert Kent (Capt. Bob West), Dorothy Arnold (Jean Drew), Jack C. Smith (Monk), Regis Toomey (Jim Daly), Edwin Stanley (Dr. Fred Mallory), Anthony Averill (Rankin), Dora Clement (Ann Zorka), Hugh Huntley (Perkins), and Edward Van Sloan (Jarvis).


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