One thing you can say about “Memoirs of an Invisible Man,” is while it’s not one of John Carpenter’s best films, it certainly is inventive. Carpenter is no stranger to science fiction and whenever he hits the genre, he attacks it with a new angle and inventive gimmick that make it worth watching. “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” is about a man who begins to live life when he realizes he’s completely invisible to just about everyone, and must also deal with everything from a clandestine government organization to learning how to eat in spite of being incapable of seeing his fingers or mouth.
Chevy Chase plays Nick Calloway, a normal business man who is caught in the middle of a horrendous top secret scientific accident that transforms him in to a literal invisible man. After escaping from a nefarious government agency, he struggles to make sense of his condition and now must flee from murderous agent David Jenkins. He’s a cunning man who will do anything to bring Nick back and turn him in to his own personal project. All the while Nick tries to find a way to reverse his condition while falling in love with Alice Monroe (Daryl Hannah), a TV director who seeks to help Nick in every way she can.
It’s not many directors that can handle a meshing of genres, but Carpenter mixes neo-noir, science fiction, fantasy, comedy, and soapy romance in to a pretty okay movie. I say it’s okay, because Carpenter’s film has some great moments of tension, and then sags from some fatty sub-plots and superfluous characters here and there. Once Nick realizes he’s invisible, the film takes a great dive in to the fantastic, especially as he has to escape a grim end when he can barely figure out how to handled chopsticks to eat in point. Chevy Chase is very good as our titular protagonist whose intellect keeps him constantly safe from the throes of death. There are some fine moments when Nick can barely rely on his invisibility to get him out of a jam, and has to keep thinking three steps ahead of his nemeses.
Sam Neil is also top notch as the film’s villainous agent, who delights in doing everything he can to ensure the accident becomes something of a benefit to his career, which is in the skids when we first meet him. “Memoirs of…” could probably have come out as a gem were it not for the mid-way point where Carpenter suddenly focuses on Nick’s romance with Daryl Hannah’s character Alice, as well as thwarting the efforts of another man to seduce her. Such moments feel so tacked on to what is a tight science fiction thriller with a great first and third chapter. “Memoirs of…” is a decent effort, and while it’s not Carpenter’s best cinematic effort, it has some great ideas, well filmed action, and special effects that are still quite dazzling to this day.
Featured on the new release from Shout is “How to Become Invisible: The Dawn of Digital F/X,” a four minute vintage featurette exploring the innovative effects both optic and digital and how they helped make the movie. There are vintage Interviews with Director John Carpenter, Actors Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah, at five minutes in length. It’s a fairly shallow bit of interviews, and a standard EPK. There’s five minutes of Behind the Scenes Footage, with Carpenter directing and discussing with the cast and crew. Finally there are three minutes of outtakes, the original theatrical trailer and four minutes of TV Spots.