Alright… It’s time for a great movie – The Invisible Maniac. When it was revealed to be remade with a modern sensibility dealing with how difficult it is for women to escape abusive relationships and how it could be exasperated by that guy having a suit that makes him invisible!
Wait… This just in. Nurse Disembaudee, my lovely co-host for B-Movie Enema: The Series (currently happening every Saturday evening right here at your favorite website), is handing me a note that says… “Geoff, you dummy, that was The Invisible Man from 2020. This is The Invisible Maniac from 1990. It’s also known as The Invisible Sex Maniac.”
OHHHHH… Gotcha. Okay, well, considering that other title, this is a VERY different type of movie. Maybe I should, you know, change my tone and approach here… and maybe stop recycling gags?
Okie dokie, here’s the deal – The Invisible Maniac is a horror comedy that was made by Adam Rifkin. We’re not a stranger to Rifkin. He was an executive producer on and had a role in 2011’s Chillerama. Remember that movie? That had the giant sperm monster and the gay werewolves. It was pretty good on different levels of brows. Depending on your sense of humor, Chillerama had something for you. Rifkin made this movie credited as Rif Coogan, which he used as an alias early in his career. He didn’t just work on low brow horror and/or comedy. He also wrote some more family friendly stuff like Small Soldiers, Mouse Hunt, and Underdog. His scripts for the kids’ stuff are actually where most of his successes at the box office have come. Generally, I like what he does. I appreciated 1999’s Detroit Rock City. Small Soldiers is good. The web series Trailers from Hell is fun. Of course, I liked Chillerama.
I ain’t got no issues with Rifkin.
This movie has a profoundly sad impact on one person in particular associated with this movie. This movie stars Shannon Wilsey. She was better known for her porn name Savannah. When she made the movie, she was only about 19. This was one of only four mainstream movies she starred in. The story goes that she was utterly mortified by her performance in this movie. The movie was actually well received for its comedic merits, but, at the premiere, she couldn’t differentiate the audience’s laughter at what was going on in the movie when she was on screen or if they were laughing directly at her.
The experience forced her to go into the adult industry. She would become one of the industry’s biggest stars, but she struggled with drug addiction and other issues that ultimately led to her attempting suicide in 1994 after a car accident broke her nose and had some other damage to her face. That attempt was initially unsuccessful in ending her life, but she was in a coma and braindead. A few hours later in the hospital, she was taken off life support for her to pass away from the injuries of the self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Okay, well now that I got that really sad shit out of the way, I think it’s high time I talk about the actual movie, yes? The Invisible Maniac opens with a doctor telling a Mrs. Dornwinkle that her son is incredibly intelligent but has a fragile mind (same) and any outside stimulus might be the thing that sends him over the edge (big mood). The son, Kevin, is apparently a sweet child but just needs the proper attention and all that stuff. You know he’s special and not well adjusted because he peeks on girls changing and dancing with herself in the mirror.
He gets busted by his mom when she comes in and Kevin is called a pervert, slapped, and gets his telescope busted up. She tells him he will never be a scientist if he’s up there looking at girls and shit. She even laughs at him and tells him he makes her sick.
Twenty years later, we see meet Dr. Kevin Dornwinkle as an adult and accomplished science guy. He’s going to present his study on molecular realignment. He gives some wordy theories about creating things within things and even being able to “de-create” things. I think that basically just means he can make things invisible. He gets laughed at by the disbelieving scientists. He decides to prove it to everyone by injecting his serum into his own arm instead of a test animal. The incredulity continues when he injects himself and nothing happens. The scientists start to laugh and make fun of him for being stupid.
He has a total freakin’ meltdown and starts attacking the scientists as he screams and laughs like a madman. One month later, we see a TV news report saying that he killed four of the scientists. On top of that, he will escape jailtime for the murders by being declared mentally insane. Instead, he’ll be at the mental hospital. Another six months later, and Dr. Dornwinkle has escaped. Two MORE weeks later we see that summer school is getting started at a school.
I kind of like that joke. We started in the past. We see a title card saying that 20 years have passed. Then, the news report says it’s been another month since he killed those scientists. Now another six months have passed and he’s escaped from the loony bin. Another TWO weeks go by and he’s got himself a job as a fill-in teacher. I don’t know why I chuckled so much at the various dates and times given, but it’s one way to speed your way through this first act.
Another good joke comes up. We meet our classroom of probably dipshits and fuckwads. The principal comes in to tell the students their science teacher died. They ask how he died. She says he died from choking on a sandwich. Someone asks what kind of sandwich. She says it’s a barbecue beef sandwich. Those details are not important at all, but it’s a series of goofy things and ideas. I like that. I also like the deadpan delivery of the principal.
Dr. Dornwinkle has changed his name to Dr. Kevin Smith. He is introduced to the class, he says something like “Snoochie Boochies” and they start smoking pot and proceed making guys on the internet cry about He-Man. Then, he finally gets into his Physics lesson. But what’s this? A sexy girl sitting in the front row? You betcha. He spots the comely Vicky (Wilsey/Savannah).
Also, check it out, sitting behind Vicky is Bunny. Bunny is played by Melissa Moore. Moore, one year later, will be in one of the reigning champions of bad movie nights everywhere, Samurai Cop. She’s the girl cop that Samurai Cop is always fucking on the side. She’s the one who also, in the middle of a scene, looks at another cop and tells him that she has nothing better to do so they should just fuck.
Anyway, Kevin asks Vicky what the four basic principles of physics are, and she names the four food groups. He then tells them, in creepy solemn tone, what the four principles are to a classroom who isn’t so sure if this guy is serious or not. I mean… The low tone music behind his very serious demeanor should pretty well tell you that this guy is for serious, Chad. I don’t know if the guy who asked “Is this guy serious?” is named Chad, but I can assume so. Later, the hot babes of this school are doing cheerleader practice while Kevin watches. And lusts. And lustfully watches.
Anyway, as soon as I wrote that I assume Bunny’s boyfriend’s name was Chad, I was really close. It was Chet. Apparently Chet and Bunny are so fucking hot and turn each other on so hard, they want to fuck right there in school, but she tells him that they need to hold off until tonight after school. Chet decides to do some pranks on the new Physics teacher. Chet’s an asshole anyway, because as they leave to go put a plan into action, he hassles a mute janitor for looking at the girls all funny. I can’t wait for Kevin to, I dunno, kill him?
The principal asks Kevin if he’d go to tutor one of the girls in class that is having some issues with her grades. Considering Dr. “Smith” here is so maladjusted with the peeping and the mommy issues, etc., this is probably not a good idea. Noel Peters, who plays Kevin, is pretty creepy in this next scene. He goes home and records his journal. He talks about how he heard students talking about him in a not-so-nice way. He also laments not being able to figure out the proper isotope that is making his experiments fail. I know this was a bit of a comedy, but Peters seems to be playing this especially straight at times and it’s eerie. When he lowers his tone, there’s a creek in his voice that just adds to the overall unsettling nature of his character. Not too shabby for the creep factor of a movie that is basically late night Showtime/Skinemax stuff.
During his off time, Dornwinkle keeps working on his invisibility potion. He seems to have figured out what he needs to and prepares a test injection for a rabbit. However, it doesn’t work. He has completely re-written his formula from the ground up. One week later, he has his new potion and injects it into the rabbit. A few seconds later, the bunny begins to glow for a brief second before popping out of sight.
So, naturally, it’s time for him to inject himself with the serum.
The serum works so well that it also makes his clothes disappear. After ten minutes exactly, the rabbit returns. Worn out by the excitement of the successful test and it also working on him, he decides to take a nap. He dreams of the girls at school wantonly beckoning to him. He wakes up, and notes that two things have happened. First, the serum has had a major affect on his dreams. Second, he has an insatiable desire to inject himself again.
He remembers the principal telling him about his student, April, and how her parents are concerned about her grades and asked for a tutor. He injects himself and decides to go over to her place to sniff her panties and pull down her nightgown to look at her breasts. That’s about as far as he goes on that night – sniff some panties, look at some titties, and breathe heavily. That’s a tiresome night right there.
The next morning, Dr. Smith is getting ready for class when Vicky pays him a visit. She tells him that she needs an A in Physics in order to graduate. In fact, she needs one bad enough that she’ll do anything for it. She even says that she doesn’t have to do what she’s doing to try to seduce the teacher, she wants to. Class begins and the students coming in breaks up the tension. While they work on the pop quiz that he gave them, they all decide to drop their books on the floor at the exact same time, When they laugh at their totally rad prank, he starts having some flashbacks of when others laughed at him.
Chet is called to the principal’s office. There, our sexy principal tells Chet that he’s not doing so hot in English. She has an offer for him. Do hot in interpersonal physical communication class, and she’ll give him the extra credit he needs to get by. No more books for Chet! What a deal!
Oh, so remember earlier when the cheerleaders practiced earlier? Well, they hit the showers afterward. Kevin peeped on them from the gym by looking through the vent. So, today… He used the serum to make himself invisible to watch the cheerleaders shower. As we watch these sexy girls shower themselves (and each other a little bit), we hear Kevin’s journal saying he used the serum again and it drew him to the girls locker room. He said the serum seems to tap into some of his most naughty desires and impulses. Then, that night, Kevin’s nightmares increase in intensity. He dreams that his doctor told his mother that he will grow up to become a man who kills many women – while invisible.
This movie has a great mix of the stupid and the creepy. All the student stuff is dumb, but kind of typical for that Showtime/Skinemax stuff that I compared this movie to earlier. However, the stuff that Noel Peters is doing when alone and pouring over his experiments and his nightmares are nice and well acted and atmospheric. It kind of shows that Rifkin has some solid talents here to help tell something of a coherent horror narrative while maybe not working with much more than the invisibility gimmick and boobs.
Speaking of boobs, sexy principal is at it again – this time with Kevin!
I like this teacher. Sure, she uses the line “It’s lonely at the top” a little too much. I mean, she seems to have a power fetish or something? Anyway, Kevin rejects her and she reveals that she found one of his syringes. She says she is going to call the police the moment he leaves the office so she wants him out of the school and out of this town. Kevin seemingly relents to her sexual advances but it’s all ruse for him to grab the letter opener and stab her to death.
When he returns to the classroom, the students are gone, but they left a bucket of water for him to spill all over himself. He decides it’s time to get his revenge. He uses his invisibility serum to start attacking students. He starts with Bubba and Betty. He forces an entire footlong sub down Bubby’s throat – simultaneously choking and suffocating him.
He rips off Betty’s shirt and chases her down the hall and tears off her bra when he catches her. He gets the firehose and strangles her with it. Two girls find Betty in the hallway. They also discovered that the doors are all locked and chained. They eventually find Dr. Smith in his classroom. He tells the girls to wait while he goes to get help. He takes more serum and comes into the classroom. He’s locked the door and starts throwing things at the girls. He tears one of the girls’ shirt off and then drowns her in the fish tank at the head of the class. The other girl, April, is teased before he just straight up chokes her to death.
Vicky goes to take a shower (I seriously think Savannah has spent more time in the shower than in any other circumstance in this movie). Her boyfriend, Gordon, is left waiting for her in the gym. Kevin has gone in and tossed her radio into the shower, electrocuting her. Gordon runs out of the locker room after taking a sucker punch to the face from the invisible maniac. I think we can call him that now. He’s started killing people and laughing like a loon. I’m gonna drop the Kevin shit and just call him the invisible maniac.
The invisible maniac chases Gordon and mocks him while continuing to punch him. He chases Gordon throughout the school. Eventually, Gordon gets to the roof, somehow. Also, somehow, the invisible maniac is up there as well. Either he was always super close behind Gordon the whole time, or the invisible maniac can also be a teleporting maniac. Eventually, Gordon gets punched off the roof of the school and falls to his death.
Meanwhile, Chet and Bunny decide to fuck in the principal’s office. They don’t see her because she’s dead on the floor, you see. Anyway, we get more boobies while Bunny finally gives in to Chet’s hornball needs. This was Vicky’s idea too. Earlier, Bunny wasn’t sure how to make Chet want to marry her (yes, this is a real conversation that happened in the school cafeteria earlier). Vicky was like, “Girrrrl, you gotta put out if you want to get married.”
The 80s/early 90s… Morality was kind of awesomely skewed.
While Chet and Bunny completely missed that the sexy principal was lying dead in the same room the just fucked in, the mute janitor dude comes in to clean up and sees her on the floor. He tries calling the cops, but the phone’s dead. He then runs screaming down the hall. Elsewhere, Bunny has to get her jacket in her locker. She finds Vicky’s body in her locker. She calls for Chet and he immediately figures the janitor was the one that killed her. When they leave the locker room, they see the janitor running toward them screaming and freaking out. Chet beats him up. But then the the invisible maniac attacks. He punches Chet a bunch of times and pins Bunny to the floor. Chet lands one good shot and bloodies the maniac’s nose, so they can find him now.
While Chet fights the maniac, he becomes visible again and reveals himself as the killer. He plans to inject himself again to get that upper hand, but he’s fresh out of invisible juice. You’d think this makes it somewhat easy for Chet to eventually overpower the maniac, but hoo boy are you wrong. The maniac punches Chet out and turns his attention toward Bunny who is crying on the floor. To shut her up, he takes a running start and jumps and lands with both feet into her head. We don’t see it, but it collapsed her brain and skull and head.
After a long, hard day, Kevin goes home to tell his journal that it has brought out the best and worst in him. He plans to move onto the next school to introduce himself to all the young, nubile students out there. AS he laughs and has himself a good ol’ time with the idea of what he can do to the students out there, it turns out that Chet is not dead. I mean, after all, he only punched Chet like 12 or 27 times. That’s hard to actually kill with just punches.
Chet originally plans to blow the maniac’s brains out with a shotgun, but the maniac takes some serum. To put this onto even footing, Chet takes some serum too. After a fight, the cops come in just after a shotgun blast goes off. It’s made to look like Dornwinkle killed himself to evade capture, but it is actually Chet who is headless and dead. Kevin laughs his ass off while walking off with a fresh slate being believed to be dead. Our sexy news broadcaster tells the world that Dornwinkle is finally dead after his rampage, but the maniac is there with her and tears off her clothes on live television for just one more laugher at the expense of all us visible normies.
This movie is actually fairly decent, truth be told. Noel Peters is good as our cackling madman. He’s definitely paying homage to Claude Rains’ spirited joke-filled performance. What’s more, this movie also feels like it has a little bit of Roger Corman mixed with maybe something like a Troma or Full Moon movie. It’s maybe not as well produced or directed as a Corman movie, so that’s where I get that feel from the other two studios. Really, I have a lot of good to say about this movie. It’s about 84 minutes in length. That’s good because, as I said earlier, this movie doesn’t have much to play on other than a guy who can be invisible who goes on a killing spree and boobs. Lots and lots of boobs. So it’s the perfect length and acted pretty well for exactly what it is. I also really like the song that plays early on during the credits while Kevin is peeping on the girl across the street with his telescope, and I like the high speed psychobilly song that plays during the end credits. It gives this movie a whole vibe that I’m on board for.
It’s been long rumored that this movie is due for a remaster from either Severin or Vinegar Syndrome. At the time of this writing (mid August 2021), it hasn’t happened yet, but I don’t know why it shouldn’t. There’s never even been a DVD of this flick – at least not that I know of. What’s the hold up here guys? I will give some monies to have a new, clean version of this movie… I… I mean a clean version in terms of not being a in low definition VHS style. I don’t mean clean as in take the boobies out clean. I just want this movie to be remastered, dammit.
Okay… Enough bullshit. Next week, I’m going to a land down under. There, I’ll be checking in on a wildlife ranger who is trying to protect a giant crocodile from hunters in the Ozploitation classic Dark Age! Be sure to be here in one week’s time to check that out. But! In the meantime, tomorrow’s new episode of B-Movie Enema: The Series is the 1967 carnival classic She Freak. To stay in the know, follow B-Movie Enema on Facebook and Twitter. Also, smash that fuckin’ subscribe button for the B-Movie Enema YouTube Channel. Most of the episodes of B-Movie Enema: The Series are going to be there, plus I’ve got those other clips from movies that I’ve plopped into articles over here.
Until next week when we hit the Outback, be sure to keep all your invisible urges under control!
2 thoughts on “The Invisible Maniac (1990)”
Your research is way off, Savannah made adult films and hard-core magazines before Invisible Maniac so the story of its reception driving her into porn is nonsense. You can tell because of her breast size – she did adult stuff before getting the boob job she has in this film.
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You are correct. I didn’t catch the misleading sentence where I should have more clearly said that the experience caused her to leave mainstream and focus more heavily on adult films. That’s a mistake in my proofreading that I didn’t fix in advance to it going live. Thanks for pointing it out.