The Invisible Ray (1936 film)

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The Invisible Ray
The Invisible Ray poster.jpg
Lobby card for 1948 re-release
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Produced by Edmund Grainger
Written by John Colton
Starring Boris Karloff
Béla Lugosi
Frances Drake
Frank Lawton
Walter Kingsford
Beulah Bondi
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography George Robinson
Edited by Bernard W. Burton
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • January 20, 1936 (1936-01-20) (U.S.)
Running time
79 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $235,000[1][2]

The Invisible Ray is a 1936 American science fiction film starring Boris Karloff (credited as '"KARLOFF") and Béla Lugosi as Dr. Felix Benet that was released by Universal Pictures.


A visionary doctor, Dr. Janos Rukh (Boris Karloff) invents a telescope that can look far out into space — into the Andromeda Galaxy — and pick up rays of light that will show the Earth's past. Looking at the past on a planetarium-like dome in his lab, a group of assembled scientists as well as Dr. Rukh see a large meteor hit the earth thousands of years ago. Amazed by the demonstration, the group invites Rukh to go on an expedition to find the meteor that appeared to land in Africa. While in Africa, Rukh finds the meteor but is exposed to strong radiation ("Radium X") from the rock, which makes his touch death on the spot. Dr. Benet (Bela Lugosi) develops a serum that holds this effect at bay and takes a piece of the stone back to Europe and uses it to heal people, including curing the blind. Rukh, suffering from the radiation, glows at night when not treated and is slowly losing his mind.

The situation is complicated by the romantic relationship between his wife, Diana (Frances Drake), and Ronald Drake (Frank Lawton), the nephew of Lady Arabella Stevens (Beulah Bondi), who was part of the African expedition. Crazed with a desire for revenge, Rukh follows his enemies to Paris. There he fakes his own death, upon which Ronald and Diana marry. Rukh then uses the toxic radiation poisoning imparted to him by Radium X exposure to kill off the members of the expedition. He saves Ronald and Diana for last, but finds himself unable to kill his wife.

Rukh's hesitation brings him close to the point where the radiation poisoning will become fatal to himself. He had been able to stave off the terminal stage by taking the antidote developed by Dr. Benet, but Rukh's mother (who had foreseen her son's undoing and had her own blindness healed by the meteor) smashes the antidote bottle. At this point, Rukh bursts into flames as he jumps out a window.



The film was originally budgeted at $166,785 but went $68,000 over budget.[2]


The film features music by film composer Franz Waxman. Many of the sets and sound effects were later used in the Flash Gordon movie serials.


Stock footage of the film was later recycled into the 1939 serial The Phantom Creeps, starring Bela Lugosi.[3] The film was part of the original Shock Theater Package of 52 Universal monster films.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Brunas, John Brunas & Tom Weaver, Universal Horrors: The Studios Classic Films, 1931-46, McFarland, 1990 p151
  2. ^ a b Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 p 189
  3. ^ Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]