THE INVISIBLE MANIAC
Copyright Company and Date: Republic Pictures, Smoking Gun Pictures, and Runny Mede House Music, Inc., 1990
Submitted by Inyarear
Kevin Dornwinkle - The main character. He's nerdy and sexually repressed, and regularly goes on killing sprees against the many people who've humiliated him. In the context of this movie, those are his good qualities.
Dr. McWaters - Clement von Franckenstein! A social worker and counselor who serves as a kind of voice of prophecy; although he only appears for about a minute or so of this entire film, he (somehow) haunts Kevin's dreams.
Mrs. Dornwinkle - Kevin's atrocious mother. Sure, her face could curdle battery acid, but most of that is just because of the way she's done her hair and makeup; her looks aren't half so hideous as her personality.
Telescope Girl - An allegedly unintentional influence on young Kevin's sexuality. The way she acts in the credits, though, I can't help thinking she was an exhibitionist and knew full well she was being watched.
The Scientists - These overhyped cannon fodder in white labcoats learn the hard way that Kevin Dornwinkle does not react well to mockery. Four of them die at his hands.
Tammy Edwards (billed as "Newscaster") - She's an unnecessary source of exposition. She does get her comeuppance for annoying us, although she doesn't number with the slain. (Her embarrassment doesn't kill her, but she might wish it would.)
Mrs. Cello - The nymphomaniac high school principal. That she's the reigning authority at this school speaks volumes about both its neighborhood and its administration. Stabbed to death with a letter opener.
Henry - The school's speech-impaired janitor who's apparently rather mentally impaired as well. He's been having a bad year. He apparently survives, but is somewhat worse for wear.
Vicky - "Savannah" the porn star! Appropriately enough, she's the sluttiest slut of the bunch. Electrocuted.
Bunny - The cute and popular not-really-virginal leader of the cheerleaders; apart from her good looks and dubious claim to virginity, she has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Stomped to death.
Chet - Bunny's popular and arrogant boyfriend who's pretty much ruled by his testicles. He's the leader of the boys' gang, and even more lacking in redeeming qualities than Bunny. Graphically beheaded by a shotgun blast.
Joan - One of Bunny's friends who's just as stupid and cruel as the other kids. Drowned in a fish tank.
Gordon - Vicky's boyfriend and one of Chet's friends who pretty much follows his lead in tormenting the teacher. Defenestrated.
April - Another one of Bunny's teacher-abusing friends and the only one who demonstrates any disagreement with what they're doing at all. This doesn't stop her from joining in their pranks. Strangled.
Bubba - Another of Chet's friends and fellow teacher-abusers and even more obviously a drag on the gene pool than the other guys. Prevented from breeding by choking to death on a force-fed hoagie.
Betty - The slightly less pretty intellectual "good girl" of the group. Her romantic tastes (for--ugh--Bubba) leave much to be desired, however. Throttled with a fire hose.
Two Incompetent Cops - I believe my title for them speaks for itself.
Never watch a skin flick--even a softcore one--for the story.
Laughter and angry lectures do not mix well.
Neither do laughter and emotionally unstable physicists.
The world's scientific elites are idiots.
If all the students in a given high school are sluts, the faculty probably are too.
A town's being named Boneville tells you something about its residents.
Big boobs are actually kind of ugly.
So are big butts. (Screw you, Sir Mix-A-Lot!)
Sexually repressed people are more likable than the uninhibited kind.
Girls always act as if they're being watched even when they think they're alone.
Invisibility serums work on anything attached to the user, even inorganic matter.
Love does not conquer all, especially Hollywood Love (a.k.a. lust).
If you're going to shoot a man, just shoot him; don't talk.
Public high schools are evil. (All right, I confess: I already knew that.)
All abortions should be retroactive; in other words, STOP THEM BEFORE THEY BREED!
STUFF TO WATCH FOR
About every 5 mins (at least) - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT/T&A/NUDITY!
4 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BUSH SHOT! No, it wasn't Kevin who saw that...
12 mins - Those were the top scientific minds? No wonder Nobel Prizes keep going to fools!
13 mins - The Boneville Chronicle? Where the heck is Boneville?
17 mins - They're cheering for lawyers?
27 mins - He managed to knock a hydrogen atom off of hydrogen trisulfate? That's no mean feat.
35 mins - So you're saying you're an invisibility junkie?
43 mins - Now they're cheering for Tanzanian fish?
45 mins - What exactly is "inexplicable" about that, Kevin?
54 mins - When he said "grade school" instead of "high school" that should have tipped her off.
55 mins - Betty and Bubba: STOP THEM BEFORE THEY BREED!
56 mins - Thanks, Kevin.
61 mins - You're not the only one who feels like throwing things at them, Kevin.
63 mins - Don't blink! It's the one remotely credible special effect in this entire flick.
69 mins - Bunny and Chet: STOP THEM BEFORE THEY BREED!
70 mins - Ugh. Too late. I wish Kevin would kill those saccharine musicians too.
71 mins - End, thrice-accursed necrovoyeuristic gratuitous sex scene, end! End! END!
77 mins - Well, somebody had to use the movie's title in a sentence, I guess.
81 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A RABBIT CAGE WITH A RABBIT STILL IN IT!
82 mins - The next day, the one guy who happened to be taping the news was a very rich man.
83 mins - The "Highest Paid Member on the set" was the fire marshall? That explains a lot.
84 mins - Those awful love ballads are conspicuously absent from the credits.
Mrs. Dornwinkle: "You make me sick!" [Maniacal laughter.]
Tammy Edwards: "And on a lighter note, mayberry jackets are back."
Bret: "Personally, I think we should do it in class in front of everybody."
Mrs. Cello: "All you have to do is make me feel like a... woman."
Bret: "Well, bravo."
Kevin: "Ever since I was in grade school, I've wanted to do this to a principal."
Kevin: "Life lesson #1: Never believe everything you read in the newspapers."
Kevin: "Life lesson #2: Never threaten The Invisible Maniac."
Incompetent Cop #1: "Looks like Dornwinkle saved this city a long, expensive trial."
This sleazy movie is supposedly a horror comedy. Well, I'm laughing, but not at any of the retarded antics of the characters or any of their lame jokes. The only way to get any real humor out of this film is to mock it relentlessly, which everyone involved in making it has made very easy to do. The frequent gratuitous nudity is obviously intended to distract the viewer from how stupid the plot is, and at this it fails miserably. The dialogue is also badly delivered and veers back and forth between disgusting swearing at times and what seem to be lame attempts at substitution for disgusting swearing at other times, thus producing the worst effects of both approaches. What few attempts there are at garnering sympathy for much of anybody in this film fail miserably.
Really, the only thing saving this retina-abusing straight-to-video fare from a skull rating is that it has none of Hollywood's usual pretensions that lust conquers all: here it's wrath that conquers all, as well it should. The writers, evidently having foreseen that any effort to win their unheroic main character any sympathy from the viewers was a doomed enterprise, wisely settled for making everybody else in this film distinctly less heroic so that we wouldn't feel sorry for any of the victims of his killing sprees. At this, at least, they succeeded: a good alternate title for The Invisible Maniac might be Why They All Deserved To Die At My Hands. (Another good one is STOP THEM BEFORE THEY BREED!)
The Invisible Maniac opens with Dr. McWaters telling little Kevin Dornwinkle's mother that her son is both intellectually bright and emotionally unstable, and exhorting her to be nice to him. Of course, although she smiles and nods and seems to assent to this, she plans to do nothing of the sort. Little Kevin, meanwhile, is up in his room with a telescope spying on a nubile young woman next door as she puts on a record and does a strip dance for the opening credits. Amid strains of suddenly threatening music, his mother bursts into his room, catching him in the act, and cruelly berates him with a really stupid tirade about how all women are bad and he's a worthless little nobody. (Wait a minute, isn't Mrs. Dornwinkle a woman? That kind of proves her point, though, doesn't it?) As if her furious rant weren't lame enough already, she finishes by bursting into jeering laughter because, you know, she's just that hateful. (Ever done that at the end of an angry tirade, anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)
Twenty years later (a caption helpfully informs us), Kevin Dornwinkle is being introduced at the International Physics Symposium to give a presentation to a dozen elite physicists. (Just in case you have any trouble believing they're scientists--and you do--they're all wearing their white labcoats.) He's hyping a breakthrough he has supposedly made in "molecular reorganization" involving "de-creating" various substances. If that gobbledygook sounds like it doesn't mean anything, that's because it doesn't mean anything. With a bit of prompting from his understandably skeptical audience, however, Kevin finally explains that in layman's terms, he has come up with a way to make people invisible and is going to demonstrate it by injecting himself with a syringe of his invisibility serum.
Of course, mixing serums and injecting them into oneself seems more an experiment in biochemistry than physics, but who cares about that? Kevin's real mistake, so far as I'm concerned, is not having tried this experiment in his lab before announcing it to a wider audience. It doesn't help his case, either, that his tone throughout the presentation suggests he's trying to impersonate a snake oil salesman and--worse--failing at it. Anyway, as so often happens on the first trial run of an untested pharmaceutical, his serum fails to work. In response, the scientists all crack lame jokes at his expense and burst into jeering laughter because, you know, they're just that hateful.
As ill-conceived as this conference was in the first place, laughing at the emotionally unstable Kevin turns out to be an even worse idea. He goes on a murderous rampage, strangling one scientist, breaking another's neck, bashing in the face of a third and beating a fourth to death with a brief case while the rest of them scramble out the door. While it may seem callous to speak ill of the dead, the last two victims seem particularly eligible for Darwin awards for cowering in their corners while Kevin was preoccupied with killing two of their colleagues and the others were making their escape. I can't help thinking the intelligence of everyone present was at least as severely overhyped as Kevin's breakthrough.
In any case, we are now introduced to a somewhat droll female newscaster who unhappily informs us that Kevin will escape the death penalty because he has been declared "mentally incapable of standing trial" and sent to the State Institution for the Criminally Insane. (Which state's institution this is never gets a mention, but judging by the vegetation on the landscape in some of the scenes, it's probably either California or Oregon.) As any legal expert could have told the newscaster--had she or anyone else thought to ask--being declared incapable of standing trial is not the same thing as being acquitted on grounds of insanity: it only means the trial has been delayed. For the plot's sake, however, the point is moot: in the very next scene, Kevin is shown escaping from this poorly guarded generic nuthouse.
We are then introduced to a summer school physics class (of all things) of three boys and five girls. Of course, since summer school usually isn't for honor roll students, these stupid and horny kids--in spite or perhaps because of their good looks--are pretty much the dregs of the crummy local public school system. When we first meet them, they're all laughing over their previous physics teacher who died from choking to death on a sandwich. This raises their hopes that they may not have to take this course, but then their principal Mrs. Cello arrives to dash their hopes with the announcement that she's found a certain Kevin "Smith" to teach this class.
How Kevin managed to land this job without any teaching credentials is a mystery this flick leaves unexplained, but I should note that, foreshadowing a bit of her own sluttiness, Mrs. Cello's blouse is already open in front in this scene, apparently because she was distracted by something and forgot to button it up again. Though it's made clear later on that Kevin's off-camera job interview certainly did not include any casting couch, this minor oversight of hers does suggest she might simply have been too distracted by some personal matter to bother with the noisome duty of running a simple background check on her new employee. What kind of matter that might be is made clear to us soon enough.
Coincidentally (or not), all five of the girls are also cheerleaders. Since their school is never actually named in this movie other than in the JKF initials on their uniforms, they spend a lot of time making up practice cheers for some of the darndest things, such as lawyers. Since they always hit the showers after practice, they do plenty to encourage voyeurs as well. Speaking of lawyers and voyeurs, the school building seems to have been designed by someone just like one of the wastrel students, since there's a nice big air vent right behind the girls' showers that allows every voyeur in the school a clear view of the naked girls' backsides from head to toe. What kept the architect from being sued for this (or whether he did avoid being sued) is another mystery never examined in the film.
At the start, Kevin's eye is naturally drawn first to the (literally and figuratively) very blonde Vicky, who has a liking for showing a lot of leg in class. Then his eyes roam to the other girls as he's spying on them in the gym and they kick up their heels and flash their panties at him and every other guy present. All the same, his mother having beaten the devil into him (not out of him) for his voyeurism as a kid, he mostly prefers to look and not touch for now. Yeah, as a stand-in for divine justice, Kevin's a pretty sorry candidate. Somebody's got to do it, though: this a slasher movie!
Something this entire film seems to imply is that although Kevin has what would normally be very realistic expectations that society would tend to punish him just as severely as his mother did if he indulged his desires, everybody in this school is so openly sexually deviant that probably none of them would think worse of him for taking advantage of any willing or semi-willing female in the vicinity. Certainly the principal doesn't: when she catches Kevin spying on the girls in the shower through that air vent, she pretends to buy his story that he's just going after some loose change he dropped on the floor, and even proceeds to give him the name and address of the nubile young April, telling him her parents are hoping he'll give her some private (!) tutoring.
In any case, as these boys and girls proceed to give their friends all kinds of bad advice about sex and romance and to torment their teacher, we come to see that the ringleaders of these vacuous young sluts and sex hounds are the popular couple Bret and Bunny. Bunny is presented as still being virginal (sort of--kind of--maybe--not really) as Bret frequently pressures her for sex and she continues to put him off. In addition to tormenting the teacher, Bret regularly mistreats the speech-impaired school custodian Henry just because he finds the guy annoying and knows he can't fight back; obviously, Bret's no hero. Bunny, for her part, goes along with Bret in all of this and encourages the girls to do the same; she's no hero either.
To make things worse, Bret and his friend Gordon are busy initiating Bubba into this orgy of sleaze by trying to set him up with Betty, whose fellow cheerleaders are likewise trying to set her up with him. To be sure, the two definitely have matching personalities; it's just too bad that those personalities are every bit as wretched as those of their ringleaders. Gordon and Vicky likewise follow the group's lead in everything, and at one point Vicky goes for a bonus, vamping on Kevin just to mess with his mind. Mrs. Cello, for her part, eventually calls Bret to her office and seduces him into a torrid adulterous affair with the notorious get-it-on-for-grades bargain corrupt educators are always striking with their students. Not only does Bret give us more reason to despise him for being all too willing a "victim" whatever the age-of-consent laws may say, but Mrs. Cello thereby reveals that she's no hero either. Really, there are no heroes in this story.
Kevin, meanwhile, continues his research on invisibility in the privacy of his cramped apartment, speaking every stray thought about the experiments and the school and all the events of his day into a tape recorder. Though he gives his first lesson in the same melodramatic tone he used at the symposium, earning him the mockery of his students for acting as if physics is the most important subject in the universe, his teaching style in the snippets that follow improves quite noticeably, especially since he's talking about actual physics instead of spewing the blatantly phony "molecular reorganization" jargon. Indeed, his mental health, if not his morality, shows considerable improvement during this time.
Eventually, after doing all the trial runs he should have done in the first place, he produces a serum that actually does make him invisible. This being a very low-budget film, his clothes vanish right along with him. Now to be fair, if Kevin's invisibility really were based on physics, it would make sense for his clothes to vanish along with him. As previously mentioned, however, an invisibility serum has more to do with biochemistry than with physics. To be sure, chemistry and physics are related fields and the findings from one can quite often be applied to the other, but if his invisibility truly came from physics, one would expect Kevin to be using some kind of light ray or machinery rather than a serum. The writers of this movie obviously don't know much about the different fields of scientific research.
Whatever one makes of this, Kevin gets his invisibility from a serum, and according to his observations, the effect lasts about ten minutes and greatly increases the libido. It also gives him an erotic dream about his female students dressed as hookers marching lockstep through the halls of the school and giving him naked come-hithers from their bathrooms (which isn't much of a leap of the imagination, considering what we know about them already.) In keeping with a rather prurient tradition of films about invisibility, he then proceeds to do what a great many guys would do if they could make themselves invisible (other than laugh maniacally in triumph, that is, although he does that too): he goes spying on naked girls!
Remember April's address and phone number that Mrs. Cello gave him? Well, when he awakens from his dream, Kevin gives himself another injection and then goes spying on Bunny in her bedroom!
Yes, well, I suppose Kevin wouldn't have much trouble getting the addresses of all his students from the school's files and yes, Bunny is arguably prettier than April. Still, there's no obvious reason why the movie's makers had to go misdirecting us with a dramatic echoing of the principal's voice in his head saying she's got April's address for him when it's Bunny he wanted to go stripping of her nightdress in her bedroom while she slept, which is what he proceeds to do. Fortunately, this is the only real break in the film's continuity.
Of course, the next escalation of his voyeurism is for Kevin to go peeking in on the girls in the school shower from inside the locker room and then pinching one of them (Betty) on the butt. In voice-over, he informs us that his deviant urges are growing stronger, and to drive the point home, he then has a dream in which Dr. McWaters returns to haunt him along with his mother, predicting his growing deviancy will eventually turn him into a serial killer, as if we really needed any of these spoilers. (Then again, what's to spoil? We all know how these movies are supposed to go, don't we?)
Ultimately, apparently not satisfied with cheating on her never-seen husband with Bret, Mrs. Cello attempts to seduce Kevin as well, but--in a twist that makes him somewhat less revolting to us than the rest of the sorry cast of losers in this school, he proves to be no pushover. When she foolishly attempts to force the issue, blackmailing him with a used syringe she found in his desk, Kevin finally uses this rather intimate moment to do something he tells her he always wanted to do to a principal: stab her to death with the letter opener from her desk! Considerably shaken from this activity, Kevin returns to his classroom only to be further shaken up when a pail of water left propped over the door by his students comes pouring down on him. In a fury, he gathers the keys to the school and proceeds to lock and chain up all the doors. Now the killing spree can commence!
And kill he does, knocking off Bubba, Betty, Joan, April, Vicky, and Gordon in rapid succession. As if we needed any reminders that this is also a T&A film, Kevin makes sure to rip the blouses and bras off of all the girls to humiliate them except, for some reason, April (and Vicky, because she's already stark naked in the shower when he attacks.) If it weren't for that, and his annoyingly high-pitched laugh and the lame jokes he spews along the way, one could almost admire him for all the crafty ways he practices some eugenics on the gene pool of these spoiled ignoramuses.
Before Kevin can knock off the main troublemakers Bret and Bunny, however, the movie makers insist on giving us one more scene just to illustrate how deserving of death they are. Everybody knows one of the rules of horror movies with a high body count is that anyone who goes fornicating on the screen is death bait, right? Well, Bret and Bunny must not value their lives very highly, because they sneak into the principal's office and go at it like (ha ha) bunnies on the floor in front of Mrs. Cello's desk. Yes, this is with Mrs. Cello's corpse lying bleeding on the floor on the other side of the desk, to which, for some reason, the movie repeatedly cuts while these two are banging each other to some hideous (and nameless) love ballad.
After they've done the horizontal rodeo (from which I'll admit the cuts to Mrs. Cello's corpse were actually kind of a relief) the two lie back-to-back with their heads snuggled into each other's necks to enjoy the afterglow. Someone, apparently, forgot to tell Bunny a certain story about free milk and a cow, since she picks this time to ask Bret when he's going to ask her to marry him. That "someone" was the late Vicky, by the way, who was stupid enough to give her the very opposite advice that giving Bret everything he wanted would somehow convince him to marry her. Say, isn't another rule of slasher flicks that anyone who gives or takes bad advice deserves to die? I believe it is.
Now I think a particular point of interest is how Bret puts her off: by telling her about his own parents who got married in high school vowing eternal love and now are divorced and hate each other. Therefore, his "logic" goes, marriage would only spoil their own romance. Talk about a mea culpa: like father, like son! Just to make us hate Bunny a little more, she then praises Bret for being "so sensible!" Argh! Now I'm half-wishing Kevin would give all their parents a nice retroactive post-120th trimester abortion too! Die, you friggin' fornicators, die!
No, they never do discover Mrs. Cello's corpse. It's Henry, who's already been having a very bad day, who does that. Just to keep our blood lust up, Bret and Bunny promptly assign blame for the killing spree to him after they find Vicky's corpse stuffed into her locker in the girls' locker room. (Their conclusion does have some validity, since Bret also caught Henry spying on the girls in the shower and hypocritically drove him away before stopping to get a good long look himself, but still: die, Bret, die!) Kevin interrupts Bret's apparent effort to beat the hysterical custodian to death and beats Bret senseless instead in a protracted brawl that ends with Kevin visible and his nose broken, but also with Bunny dead and her blood trailing from his feet. (Those must have been cleated shoes or something: Kevin doesn't look all that heavy. What a way to go!)
Since Bret isn't dead yet, of course, he trails Kevin back to his apartment with a shotgun and, presumably because he's just that much of a dumb jock, manages to lose the gun in the invisible brawl that ensues. At first, Kevin's got the upper hand because Bret's still visible, but then Bret finds a spare hypo and then we get to enjoy the somewhat amusing sight of the room seemingly trashing itself as the two swing blind at each other. Finally, the shotgun swings up from the floor and--is this really a spoiler? Kevin must have gotten on top of the situation and located Bret somehow, because he manages to blow his head off.
In burst the Two Incompetent Cops, Bret having tipped them off to this being the fugitive Dr. Dornwinkle's apartment, and promptly misinterpret everything they see to convince them that their target has committed suicide because he was on drugs. Okay, so Kevin did admit in his tape diaries that the invisibility serum made him horny and is addictive, so I guess they got that right. That's still some very shoddy detective work, especially considering that the shotgun wasn't lying at anything like the angle it would be if this were a suicide. Also, these two jokers don't even bother to cordon off the apartment in anticipation of an investigation, or mention anything about the paperwork they're still going to have to fill out.
Apparently the rest of their squad was just as incompetent, because the final scene in this movie is of our newscaster Tammy Edwards from the earlier scene recapping their findings. (Didn't anybody notice Bret was still missing at the end of this incident? His mother, at least? Hello!) Then--
Well, I ought to leave you that much to be spoiled. Anyway, in keeping with the slasher movie logic, the killer wins, which is as it should be. While The Invisible Maniac is not exactly my idea of a good propaganda film for promoting abstinence, I can't help admiring its relentless enforcement of the fornicators-must-die rule. That's at least a little compensation for having had to endure this eyesore of a film for the sake of you other viewers. If there's some big moral lesson to be learned from this nonsense, let it be this: don't wait for people like Kevin to come along; if your kids are behaving the way the ones in this movie do, STOP THEM BEFORE THEY BREED!