30. Invisible Agent (1942)
More of a cultural curio from the Second World War than a fully realized film, The Invisible Agent ignores the canon of the previous Invisible Man movies in order to provide some flag-waving propaganda where the eponymous character is actually a hero instead of a madman. That hero’s real name is Frank Griffin (Jon Hall), the grandson of the original Invisible Man. Now in the 1940s, he decides to use the family’s secret serum to fight the Nazis after German and Japanese spies (including Peter Lorre in yellowface) attempt to torture him into giving the formula to the Axis Powers. It all sounds more exciting than it is, but every bit as uncomfortable to the modern eye. Worst of all, though, is that it’s surprisingly boring.
29. The Mummy’s Curse (1944)
As the second Mummy movie starring Lon Chaney Jr. released inside of a year, The Mummy’s Curse reeks a bit of desperation by Universal to squeeze out the last dollar from an oversaturated brand before the war ended. As such, the fourth and final “serious” Mummy movie goes through what had become the familiar beats of each installment featuring the mummy Kharis (Chaney), an undead guardian who ostensibly wants to protect the corpse of his great love, but is mostly the attack dog for interchangeable Egyptian cultists to sic on all-American heroes in the heartland. Curse offers an interesting new element by making the reincarnated revenant of Kharis’ love, Princess Ananka (Virginia Christine), a major character. However, the film is in too much of a hurry to get to the same scares as last time, so it doesn’t really do anything with her.
28. The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)
We promise we actually like Lon Chaney Jr. when he’s in the right role (as you’ll see later), and his portrayal of Kharis is perfectly adequate as a lumbering 3,000-year-old zombie, but most of the mummy sequels stink, and The Mummy’s Ghost is no exception. The first film to actually introduce the concept of Princess Ananka being reincarnated (played here by Ramsay Ames), the film’s setup is a refreshing change of pace, even if the film inexplicably (and amusingly) moves the location of Kharis’ American adventures from New England to New Orleans and hopes no one will notice. Sadly, however, just when the movie gets going, and Ames’ Amina starts turning into her ancient self, the film runs out of steam or budget, and abruptly ends. After 3,000 years of waiting to make an entrance, she (and the film) tripped while climbing out of the sarcophagus.
27. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)
Universal’s final Mummy movie before Brendan Fraser also marked the studio’s last picture with the legendary comedy duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. We wish they all went out on a better note, but Bud and Lou were clearly in their declining years, with the pair not even bothering to learn their character names in this sendup of the Mummy movies (they’d make only one more picture together afterward). They’re just Abbott and Costello, lost in Egypt and forced to contend with a living mummy (this one renamed Klaris and played by Eddie Parker), as well as ostensibly Egyptian cultists praying to Amun-Ra. A few gags early on work, but before the credits rolled, it was already a museum piece.
26. The Creature Walks Among Us (1956)
There’s an interesting metaphor to the third and final Creature movie. After two films about trying to poach or study Gil-Man, the dull-as-dishwater American men of science attempt to cure the green guy in The Creature Walks Among Us. They give him lungs, biceps, and the frame of a linebacker when an operation causes him to mysteriously gain six inches in height and a hundred pounds in muscle mass. Yet it’s all a deceptively well-meaning attempt to oppress nature; to subjugate the divine mysteries to humanity’s ego, which in this case amounts to an aquatic man-servant who through it all keeps his eye for leggy brunettes. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t take its metaphor to its obvious endpoint, leaving the dramatic substance of the idea to be exhumed by Guillermo del Toro half a century later. Otherwise, Walks Among Us devolves into a staid domestic drama about an unhappy marriage and non-amphibious home wreckers. How ‘50s.
25. The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944)
The most entertaining thing about The Invisible Man’s Revenge is not the new invisible guy, but the scientist of questionable ethics who convinces a small-time hood he should get extra clear of his crimes. Played with actual mustache-twirling by John Carradine, Dr. Drury isn’t exactly mad, but he seems a little too happy with having an invisible dog in his house. Actually, that dog is pretty great too, chasing the new Invisible Man (Jon Hall in no relation to his role as the titular Invisible Agent) like the Grim Reaper. The Invisible Man may be able to hide from the law, but from the blood scent of an aggrieved hound, he’s just another chew toy with a cute gimmick.