After the kids were in bed (and I use that term loosely, as any parent of candy-filled kids can attest to), Denisa and I decided to finish off our Halloween festivities by watching a classic horror movie: The Invisible Man. I wanted to watch something scarier, but Denisa is not a big fan of scary, so we settled on this.
It was a pretty good movie, all told. The special effects were remarkable for 1933. I imagine you all know the story: there’s a scientist. He’s turned himself invisible. (Shocker, I know.) Also, he’s gone mad and decided to start killing lots of people, because hey–he can.
I’m sure at the time it was a real edge-of-your-seat sort of a film, but as we were watching it, I couldn’t help but think how far pop culture and horror has shifted in the days since this came out. The Invisible Man has no super-powers, other than being invisible. No mind control. He can be shot. He’s not super fast or strong. He’s a guy. Who’s invisible.
And he strikes terror into the heart of everyone he comes across. (Seriously. There’s this innkeeper’s wife who would. not. stop. screaming.) Why is he terrifying? Because he’s invisible.
What would happen today with something like that?
Denisa and I just kept wondering why everyone in the room didn’t gang tackle the guy and beat him senseless. He’s not even armed. Thirty policeman. A closed room. The invisible man is talking (so you know where he’s standing, generally). He’s even kicking people and doing stupid things like knocking their hats off. That’s when everyone gets together and has a little invisible man piñata party.
But in 1933, what did people have to be scared of? There’d been no serial killer movies. No terrorists–not on a massive scale. No zombie apocalypses. I think the world (both in pop culture and in reality) has become a much scarier place, and our viewing habits and expectations from fiction and film have changed accordingly.
Which got me thinking some more. If you wanted a truly scary invisible man today, what would you have to do? It’s certainly disturbing to think he can be anywhere–that you could be watched at any time and not know it. I think the ability to go non-corporeal would help tremendously. If he can pass through walls, through people–through anything–and yet take on a physical form when he wants to, that ups the ante a lot. (Though it also begs the question as to what the difference is between that and, say, a ghost. My answer would be that ghosts are usually more confined to a location or time of day. This kind of invisible man could go anywhere. Do anything.)
The concept is still really cool. I’m sure something could be done with it (and something likely already has, come to think of it), but this movie as-is . . . just isn’t scary at all anymore.