Before you must take caution while viewing the solar eclipse Monday- you must be very careful about exposure to even worse danger tonight on MeTV- as two of the Universal horror greats, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, become rivals over a discovery that could save lives- or end them- all brought about by “The Invisible Ray”!
We open the story on a suitably dark and stormy night- at the usual remote sanctuary. Coming to call are elite members of the scientific community, along with some tag-along relatives – at the request of the noted scientist Dr. Janos Rukh. Rukh is about to reveal an amazing discovery- which he has uncovered – from the past?! Skeptical attendee Dr. Benet, who professionally has disputed Rukh’s theories, decides to placate him by joining his comrades ,their nephew, and Rukh’s beautiful young wife- as Rukh provides an startling display, thanks to his unique telescope, that shows Africa many many years ago in the past- the site of a meteor crash-landing.Rukh feels that the meteor very well may contain an unknown element that can provide amazing power! The display is so convincing, that even his usual adversary Benet agrees that they must plan an expedition to find where the element lies, and retrieve it for study. However, Janos’ sightless mother has her say- she feels that he should not be associating with the visitors-on the basis of his own innate “nature”.
Regardless of that, the expedition is set- and before long, the party is suffering in the African heat. Speaking of heat, Janos’ wife Diana and the nephew, Ronald, feel things warming up in their relationship, with Diana fighting the attraction. Janos’ neglect of her doesn’t make things any easier, as he heads off by himself- and eventually finds the mysterious element- named “Radium X”- but, unaware of how powerful its radiation is- he is shocked to find that, soon,he is glowing in the dark (without a Sven t-shirt) – and that the dosage of radiation means his slightest touch to any living thing will cause- death! Dr. Benet gets a secret visit from Rukh, and taking pity on his rival, invents a serum that will counteract the radiation effects. He agrees to tell the world that Rukh passed away, and left his discovery of the element to the world of science.
When Benet returns to civilization, and uses the Radium X carefully for healing- news of his great acclaim causes Janos, whose mind has also fallen victim to the overdose of radiation, to fantasize that Benet has stolen his discovery and claimed it as his own! He sets out to return and get revenge against everyone who was a part of the expedition- and is especially enraged that Diana has now married Ronald, since she thought Janos was dead. The crazed scientist utilizes the awful power of his discovery in devastating acts of vengeance- a power that seems unstoppable!
This 1936 chiller benefits from some unusual special effects,courtesy of John Fulton, whose work ranged from “The Ten Commandments” to “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf man”; familiar film music by Franz Waxman; and , of course, its two stars, Boris Karloff as Janos, and Bela Lugosi as the kindly Benet.We’ll fill you in on the rest of the cast, which includes a familiar face or two- and provide some insight into the production and a few details that were okay during the time period, but are somewhat questionable today.
“Invisible Ray” beams your way tonight on MeTV at 10 pm eastern/pacific, 9 central, or, check for channel and time in your area at www.metv.com . Chicago area viewers get a daytime look at the “Night Monster”- featuring Lugosi in a less prominent role- at 11 am on WCIU, the U.
If you’re in that viewing area, you may also want to stop by and visit with me today at the Niles-Maine District Library, 6960 Oakton Street in Niles, IL- as I appear from noon to 2 pm. It’s all in tribute to comics and pop culture, with all ages welcome. Find out more at www.nileslibrary.org or call 847-663- 1234.
And now- our important announcement: starting on Saturday, September 9th- our show will be moving to an earlier time slot on Super Sci Fi Saturday Night! The Svengoolie show will start at 8 eastern/pacific, 7 central time. Wonder Woman will be on before us, and Batman will follow us every week. This move will be welcomed by the folks who have been bothered by local news pushing our show later than scheduled- and those who struggle to stay awake to make it to the end of the show! It all starts Saturday night, September 9. You’ll see lots of reminders on MeTV to help keep the change in mind. Our WCIU Saturday morning show will remain at the same time.
And- you can hear Sven’s alter ego, Rich Koz, discuss the time change,as well as other topics, and hear segments talking to Chris Costello, daughter of Lou Costello- and Joan Maurer, daughter of Moe Howard of the 3 Stooges- late night tonight after 2 am on WGN radio (720 AM) with Dave Plier. Be watching for news of more radio appearances before the big time change happens! (And- if you haven’t already signed up for the monthly newsletter on our site- it’s free- do it now!)
Don’t forget to join us tonight for Bela and Boris -and glow-in-the-dark danger ( no special glasses needed)!