Release dateJanuary 20, 1936 (1936-01-20) (U.S.) WriterJohn Colton (screenplay), Howard Higgin (original story), Douglas Hodges (original story) DirectorsLambert Hillyer, Arthur Lubin Film seriesUniversal horror Film Series CastBoris Karloff (Dr. Janos Rukh), Bela Lugosi (Dr. Felix Benet), Frances Drake (Diane Rukh), Frank Lawton (Ronald Drake), Beulah Bondi (Lady Arabella Stevens), Violet Kemble Cooper (Mother Rukh) Similar moviesI Spit on Your Grave III: Vengeance is Mine, Interstellar, Mad Max: Fury Road, Knock Knock, John Wick, Salt
TaglineDelving into new, strange fields of mystery!
A scientist (Bela Lugosi) seeks an antidote for a radium-poisoned colleague (Boris Karloff) with the touch of death.
The Invisible Ray is a 1936 American science fiction film starring Boris Karloff (credited as "KARLOFF") and Bela Lugosi as Dr. Felix Benet that was released by Universal Pictures.
Dr. Janos Rukh discovers a certain type of radium that has almost magical healing properties. But the element has a dangerous side, too, and it has already started affecting Rukh. Consumed by paranoia, he begins to suspect that his wife is having an affair. Wild for revenge, Rukh hatches a deadly plot...using his own poisoned body as a weapon to kill.
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 Earths 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.
Rukhs 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 Rukhs mother (who had foreseen her sons 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.
Boris Karloff as Dr. Janos Rukh (billed as KARLOFF)
Bela Lugosi as Dr. Felix Benet
Frances Drake as Diana Rukh
Frank Lawton as Ronald Drake
Violet Kemble Cooper as Mother Rukh
Walter Kingsford as Sir Francis Stevens
Beulah Bondi as Lady Arabella Stevens
Frank Reicher as Professor Meiklejohn
Paul Weigel as Monsieur Noyer
Georges Renavent as Chief of the Surete (as Georges Renevant)
The film was originally budgeted at $166,785 but went $68,000 over budget.
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. The film was part of the original Shock Theater Package of 52 Universal monster films.