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Universal Horror Collection: Volume 1 - The Invisible Ray Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Universal Horror Collection Volume 1 Large

Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Written by John Colton
1936, 79 minutes, Not Rated

Boris Karloff as Dr. Janos Rukh (as Karloff)
Bela Lugosi as Dr. Felix Benet
Frances Drake as Diane Rukh
Frank Lawton as Ronald Drake
Walter Kingsford as Sir Francis Stevens
Violet Kemble Cooper as Mother Rukh

Universal Horror Collection Vol 1 17 Universal Horror Collection Vol 1 18


Janos Rukh is an astrophysicist studying rays from the Andromeda galaxy. He successfully harnesses the power of one of the rays and proves himself to his fellow scientists, Dr. Benet and Sir Francis Stevens. The team heads to Africa in search of radioactive deposits to further power the ray. A careless moment during a test leaves Rukh poisoned by radiation resulting in his glowing in the dark and fatal to the touch. Benet creates a serum that renders the poison dormant for several hours. Once Benet and Stevens start getting credit for the discovery, Rukh feels betrayed and vows revenge. As he slowly loses his mind, he grows more irrational and prone to violence resulting in many fatalities. Can this mad scientist be contained and healed or will he continue to destroy anyone he comes into contact with?

It’s 1936 and Universal Pictures has its third Karloff/Lugosi pairing in The Invisible Ray. Karloff once again fills the role of villain as the deadly Jonas Rukh, while Lugosi plays the more benevolent Dr. Benet. This film introduces elements of science fiction into the mix, as horror was falling out of favor with the studio. The two actors rise to the challenge and make the most of the material. Their highly-touted rivalry continued to make headlines, as Karloff’s career overshadowed Lugosi’s. Both men deliver strong performances, but this is clearly Karloff’s movie. Rukh is more defined as a character and given more opportunities to shine in his jealous rages and our star disappears into the role with ease.

The Invisible Ray is another fine picture that plays to its talents’ strengths and was a hit with audiences, though not as successful as its predecessors. The two stars continued to work separately, with Lugosi appearing in several low-budget independent offerings while Karloff continued to find success within the studio system. It’s always fun watching these two legends on screen together and this one gives fans more of what they want.

Universal Horror Collection Vol 1 19 Universal Horror Collection Vol 1 20

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