Movie Review: The Amazing Transparent Man (Pain Box)

Posted: January 23, 2010 in Movie Review, Pain Box, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Amazing Transparent Man (1960 American International Pictures Dir. Edgar G. Ulmer) MST3K Episode 23 of Season 6, March 18, 1995

I’ll kill you all! Wherever you are!

ARE YOU READY? We’re going with an AIP movie today, so expect this to suck like a Hoover. The movie starts off with machine gun fire! AWESOME! Bet the rest of the movie won’t be this exciting. Actually, there is a problem already. This is a prison break, some guy is trying to get away, the searchlights are sweeping, looking for him, and some guard is just spraying the compound with automatic fire. You’d think he’d wait until the lights shined on him, but no, he just fires into the darkness. Going to be a lot of cop funerals this month I think. Actually, there were a lot of cop funerals back in the 40s when that stock footage was shot. Of course, when that footage was shot, he might have been able to see what he was shooting.

See the USA in your Chevrolet.

Anyway, it turns out that this jail break was done for a reason, but we don’t know what the reason is yet. Dude’s name is Joey Faust of all things. We learn this when our intrepid criminal is introduced to Major Paul Krenner of… no particular army. During the announcement of Faust’s career for the purpose of exposition, we’re told that Faust has a child he’s never met. The first crack in this movie’s writing then appears as he freaks out, announcing that if the guy mentions his daughter’s name again he’ll kill him. Faust has just given me almost more information than the Major has at this point. No one mentioned the child’s name or sex. Proof reading was not a priority on this script. See the cracks have begun to show. More cracks will appear later, and we’ll find that what little writing did get done wasn’t given much attention.

Look closely at this house, it won’t look like that later in the film.

It seems that they’re doing experiments in making people turn invisible, but the stuff they need to continue the experiments is rare and they have to steal it. They even call it Atom Bomb stuff and mentions that the government has it locked up tight. This is what they need him to swipe it. Now, if it’s 1960, and you can make people invisible, why wouldn’t the pentagon just fund you up the ass? I mean really! Still, they get Faust… Faust? For reals? Joey Faust? That was the best you could come up with? I mean it’s not even like there’s any kind of deal with the devil going on here. His movie has no such deep meaning. Was Falstaff too literary? It makes as much sense after all. Faust? Really?

Faust? My name is Faust?

…Okay. They get Faust out of the clink so he can be turned invisible and steal materials they need to keep turning people invisible, so they can steal more materials, so they can keep turning people invisible, so they can steal more materials and so on. It sounds sort of dumb, and that’s only because it is. Well, Faust pulls a gun and tells Krenner that he could just shoot him and Krenner’s bodyguard pipes up that he could shoot Faust. The guard is holding a Winchester rifle, the sort seen in a hundred westerns and probably borrowed from one, but he talks about it like it’s a shotgun. The guy has a Winchester, talks like it’s a shotgun. The script wasn’t read very carefully is all I’m saying.

This here rifle’s a shotgun right? RIGHT?

So we find out how they turn people invisible and it turns out to have been done through the magic of SCIENCE! They show how it’s done by turning a guinea pig, an actual guinea pig, invisible through a pretty neat special effect sequence. Some of the invisible effects are a little hokey, relying on actors to act like they’re being hit by someone who isn’t there, or items held by strings, but the vanishing effects are pretty good. Not great. I did not say they were great, but they are a patch above what I thought we were going to get. The demonstration also introduces a poor German doctor who developed the machine and who Krenner is keeping prisoner by holding his daughter locked up in a room right next to him. You know… I’m beginning to suspect that Krenner might not be on the up and up.

Would you trust this man with atomic weapons?

Krenner tells the room that the possibilities of this machine are limitless. Turning rodents and people invisible and then undoing that effect hardly equals limitless possibilities in my mind. It seems quite limited in fact. Sure, the uses of an invisible rodent might be limitless, but the machine itself is just an on/off switch. You hit a button and they vanish, you hit another button and they come back. Only one application really. The doctor, his name is Ulof by the way, claims that things might not be so safe to work with. He’s worried you see, because the process isn’t really as safe as advertised. It seems there are problems, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m doing Science and I’m still alive!

Faust is a little worried about the whole being blasted with radiation through a tube thing and wonders if maybe he shouldn’t just say thanks but no thanks. He’s not really given a chance though, as he’s locked into a room with the guard watching over him. The guard of course keeps his trusty “shotgun” which is still an old lever action rifle. Faust messes with the guard’s head and when the guard opens the door, Faust messes with it even more by means of a cudgel of some variety. The video isn’t really clear, so I can’t say exactly what he hits him with. I suppose it could be a fourth century Italian marble dildo, but I highly doubt it.

Yeah, I do the “Gangster Moll” fantasy for a lot of guys.

He goes upstairs, deciding that Doctor Ulof is the one person he could maybe begin to trust. Ulof tells him his story, and how Krenner is holding his daughter. Faust and he start to talk, but they’re interrupted by the girl who helped break Faust out in the first place. She wanders around in what today would be mistaken for a ball gown, but was meant to be a nightdress. She and Faust talk about maybe forming a team and getting away with the invisible machine so he could rob banks and give her a split. They then talk about opening a little restaurant somewhere in Mexico and how she can cook and he’ll run around in a cute cocktail dress… or did I just make all that up? In the middle of talking, the guard shows up and whacks Faust over the head just in time for Krenner to come back. After that there’s a scene that exists for no better reason than for Krenner to slap the girl (her name is Laura) twice. This, I assume, is for the males in the audience who can’t stand to see a woman assert herself in anyway without “being told” by a man. It was a different time you understand.

My self-esteem requires that I slap around a woman to make me feel strong. I’m sure you understand.

So, they lay Faust down on a table, turn on the endless possibility machine and turn him invisible. The problem here is that they don’t strap him down or anything, which means as soon as you can’t see him, he hops up and starts throwing monkey wrenches into plans. Krenner, true to form, tries to threaten Faust with staying invisible forever. The problem for Krenner is that Faust can now smack him around and choke him without being seen. So that’s what he does. Wow! The guy you’ve been threatening since you first met him has turned the tables on you at the first chance he gets… WHAT A SURPRISE!!! He starts messing with Krenner, who acts like a whipped pup now that the tables have been turned on him. Faust demands more money, but it’s not important beyond padding. He agrees to do the job.

Guys! Phone call from H.G. Wells’ estate, something about copyright infringement.

The job is pretty much what you expect from a movie like this. He breaks into the vault, knocks out a couple of guards and steals the stuff. This leads to a truly pointless scene where the guards try to tell their bosses about the heist and the bosses just yell at them for being bad guards. They are then denied cookies and are sent to bed without supper. Okay, that doesn’t really happen. I just wanted to pad this review out a few more sentences. This is sort of what watching the movie is like. Meaningless deviations that don’t serve any real purpose beyond adding a few more minutes to the run time. Isn’t this fun kids?

And this little tube would grow up to be Nomad.

While Faust is away, we learn what Ulof was worried about. It seems that the guinea pig died even though it had built up a resistance against the radiation, which is news to me. I didn’t know you could build up a resistance, I thought you just built up cancer and radiation burns. Evidently, every time you vanish a person it takes more power to make them vanish and less power to turn them back. Now they’ve swiped a new material called… are you ready for this? The new material is called X-13! I know, right? Krenner says that they’ll use the X-13 on Faust, but Ulof claims that X-13 had unusual properties that are different from other nuclear materials and he wants to study it more to make sure it’s safe. What properties? You’re just using the radiation to power your on/off switch with endless possibilities. If you were using it some other way, you couldn’t just replace the materials. Radiation is radiation, some things just have more of it. Srsly! Anyway, Krenner says they’ll use the X-13 on Faust and Ulof puts up a token resistance, but Krenner tells him that he’s willing to sacrifice one man if it means having an invisible army. So they decide to use the stuff on Faust.

Stop reading over my shoulder.

Faust on the other hand has other ideas besides those that Krenner has for him. He decides to rob a bank instead of the atomic vaults and enlists Laura’s help in his plan. The problem is, or turns out to be, that the whole invisibility thing is unstable and he reappears in the middle of his bank robbery. This turns the whole robbery into something of a debacle. When Krenner hears about this on the radio, he’s quite annoyed, but why? Think about this for a second, if Faust had reappeared with a handful of X-13 the guards would have jumped him and he’d have been forced to tell everything. This way he at least got away and no one knows that Krenner is part of it. Still, they get angry about the whole thing and decide to run. While Faust and Laura are discussing how they’re going to get away, Faust vanishes again and walks off.

Oh crap! Can you see me?

Inside the house, Krenner tells Ulof about how their going to take off and Ulof announces he’s going to stay. Krenner says that he’ll just take Ulof’s daughter and figures that’ll get Ulof to come along. Now, we’re 48 minutes into this 57 minute long movie and this is the first time we’ve actually seen Ulof’s daughter. I don’t think she even has any lines besides a gasp. Why have her in this thing? She doesn’t serve much purpose, she’s just a prop. It smacks of bad writing to have this weak plot device in the movie, they should have gone through a few more drafts of the script, strengthened the whole thing up a bit. It doesn’t matter because Faust shows up, hits Krenner and then actually appears again. Ulof explains the whole instability thing and tells Faust that once they get away from Krenner he’ll fix the whole thing. I, personally, can see nothing wrong with trusting a guy who only has one goal in mind.

EEEEK! Put your pants back on!

While that’s going on, the guard (he has a name but I refuse to care) catches Laura and Faust and Ulof and the daughter. Laura tells the guard that instead of having a son in prison he has a son in a graveyard and that Krenner has been using him from the word go. Yeah, I suppose there’s no reason to doubt the word of someone telling me something when I have a gun on them and they have every reason to lie. The guard decides to join the party, and help everyone escape. Faust shoves Laura into a locked room and the group leaves the house.

Again, look at that house!

When outside, Ulof makes an impassioned speech about the evils of science destroying our country and tells Faust he’s dying. You know… everyone in this movie is amazingly trusting. They just go along with whatever they’re told by people they shouldn’t really trust. Anyway, Faust lets Laura out of the locked room just long enough for Krenner to kill her, then a good old-fashioned fistfight breaks out in the lab. Kenner turns the machine on the nuclear materials and a small explosion blasts the house… from the outside. Oh stock footage, we love you so. You remember the piece of stock footage from the atomic bomb tests? Yeah, they use that. So the exploding house is clearly hit by a wave from outside the house.

See? It looks nothing like the house we saw earlier.

The explosion doesn’t even destroy the house since we see people scouring the wreckage. They say that there’s nothing left but ash, but you can clearly see part of the house, a lot of the equipment, standing telephone poles a few feet behind the wreckage, hardly destroying half the county as the script demands they say. After Ulof tells the agents how this whole thing, all this death and destruction was caused by Krenner wanting an invisible army an agent actually says “This whole invisible army thing is an interesting idea, maybe we should make some.” And then Ulof smacks him and screams “WHAT DID I JUST SAY? Am I talking just to hear myself? What the hell is wrong with you people?” He doesn’t really, but he comes close. He gets the last line in the movie, which ends on a “Research is bad and dangerous and you should just sit down and do what the system tells you to” note like a lot of these movies do. That’s what insults my intelligence, that they show someone being vain and irresponsible to claim that all science and research is bad. Like no one could be even remotely careful or responsible with the power of SCIENCE! I’m really offended by that idea, it smacks of stupid people trying to sound clever.

Some days, it’s like I’m talking to the headrest.

Official Score:
-10 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

Bookmark and Share


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s