Oh, The Humanity! The Invisible Maniac

the invisible maniac 1I’m currently working my way through every film which contains an invisible protagonist and its been a project which has largely been a delight. The 1933 Universal film had a weirdly dark sense of humour, one of its sequels The Invisible Woman was filled with slapstick fun, when The Invisible Man met Abbott And Costello it was packed full of daftness, and there wasn’t a truly bad film among the ten or so I’d caught so far. But now that is sadly no longer the case.

The haphazard plot follows Kevin Dornwinkle (Noel Peters), an eminent scientist who thinks he’s created a formula to turn invisible, though oddly he didn’t think to test it before presenting it to a panel of fellow scientists. When it fails he goes mad and kills four other scientists because that’s the kind of swell guy he is, but after he’s arrested he’s saved from the electric chair as it’s decided he should be committed to an insane asylum.

He quickly escapes however and six months later is taking a job as a physics teacher, background checks presumably not being a thing in the early nineties. While attempting to educate a selection of students who look at best in their mid-twenties he finally gets his invisible formula to work, discovers all of his students thinks he’s a dick, and then goes around either sexually assaulting them or murdering them, oh, and he laughs a lot too which might seem an odd thing to point out but it’s to such an extreme that it starts to get annoying very quickly.

Directed by Adam “Detroit Rock City” Rifkin under the name Rif Coogan, I can only presume that’s because he was ashamed of making a Porky’s style comedy where cheerleaders dance naked in the showers for a weirdly long time and when clothed the camera zooms in on their underwear in such a creepy manner that even someone on the sex offender’s register would probably think it’s a bit much. There’s a lot of nudity that is completely pointless, and I imagine a good twenty minutes could be cut without any issue at all.

It’s also quite poorly edited in places, in one scene where he kills two girls the film inexplicably keeps on cutting to a poster of a skeleton, and a part where it cuts between Dornwinkle working on the formula at night and teaching by day is oddly put together too, and bloody boring as well. Peters is okay in the lead role but the majority of the rest of the cast are amateurish in the extreme, and the script feels improvised, the girls chatting away to each other in the shower especially feels like the director said “Hey, talk about whatever you like” before wandering off leaving the cameras running for far too long.

Some of the acting is so bad that it did make me laugh a fair amount, especially towards the end when they’re required to seem terrified. A couple of the kills are deliberately amusing as well with a death thanks to a sandwich being a rare intentionally funny moment, while a very unconvincing electrocution elicited a chuckle, but that’s about the only positive thing I have to say about it, and this is a trashy, fairly grim pile of crap that ranks as one of the worst comedies made in the twentieth century.

Alex Finch.

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