4K UHD Review: Invisible Maniac

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

During the VHS era, filmmakers could come up with a low budget concept that could make money as long as it featured women showering. Rarely do you get group showering in a film in the 21st Century. Many of the films from this era had very little to offer viewers outside of good hygiene routines. Quite a few that provided a reason to not fast forward to the girls locker room scenes. Invisible Maniac is a fine example from this era of a film that went straight to video, but made viewers put down the remote after hitting play.

As a child, Dr. Dornwinkle (Noel Peters) is busted by his mother while using a telescope to watch a neighbor get dressed. This incident scars the kid and also makes him want to come up with a way to be invisible so no one will catch him peeping. He becomes a major scientist however things go wrong when he decides to demonstrate his invisibility formula. This gets him tossed into an insane asylum. He escapes the confines and hides in the one place where nobody would recognize him: a high school summer school. Principal Mrs. Cello (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off‘s Stephanie Blake) hires the guy without doing much of a background check. The school gives Dornwinkle access to the chemistry lab and a view of the girls’ shower room. This is a potent mixture since the scientist finally cracks his formula and can finally become an invisible man. This is not shaping up to be good for the students who think he’s just a goofy teacher that’s less pervy than the janitor.

Adam Rifkin (under the name Rif Coogan) had quite a bit of outrageous fun with the invisible teacher. The concept of the pervy scientist is pushed to the extreme. The movie has a solid ending that won’t make you feel like you’ve been ripped off by a seductive VHS box. This is the tape that you tell your pals to rent at Phar-Mor. Rifkin delivers and doesn’t tease the audience.

The cast is able to handle the weirdness. Nobody seems timid when it comes to either fighting an invisible opponent or hitting the shower. I don’t get how Noel Peters wasn’t in more films since he’s hilarious as the scientist whose obsession with invisibility is only topped by his desire to experiment on himself. Even when he’s “invisible,” somehow Peters inhabits the screen. Another great find in the film’s cast is Shannon Wilsey as one of the students that the doctor lusts over. She’s hilarious with her eagerness to do anything to get out of performing any actual classwork. The actress would go full time into the adult film industry, change her name to Savannah and win an AVN. Her life would end tragically a few years after this film. Stephanie Blake plays a principal who believes her staff and male students are hers to seduce. Blake has won the Miss Exotic World title twice for her burlesque routines. The movie also has Julie Strain (Heavy Metal 2000) in a bizarre dream sequence that’s not really a part of the film and seen in the bonus feature section. There’s a lot to enjoy here. You might have caught the film when it ran on USA’s Up All Night series. But you didn’t see all the showering since it had to be altered for non-pay cable standards. The 4K UHD will allow you to see more brilliance in The Invisible Maniac.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 4K UHD looks fine since Rifkin shot the film in 35mm. Cinematographer James Bay makes the movie look top notch. Audio is DTS-HD MA Mono so you can hear all the showering clearly. The movie is subtitled in case you need to hear what the invisible mad scientist is saying.

Audio Commentary with writer/director Adam Rifkin is moderated by Elijah Drenner. He talks about how showing John Landis his first film led to him thinking about making a low budget film on the sly would help him be a better director. He knew a straight to video producer and made it happen. He wrote the script quickly and got into production swiftly.

Audio Commentary with the Hysteria Continues! has the guys go into straight to video films from this era. They point out the film was also released as a horror film in some markets. One of the guys doubts the actions of the characters.

Blu-ray with all the bonus features.

Fast Cheap and Out of Sight (32:08) has Adam Rifkin, his crew and cast talk about the week they made Invisible Maniac. There’s a great story of how Rifkin got Danny Elfman to do the score for $1 and a strange favor. The film turned out to be extremely profitable even though it went straight to video. Rifkin explains the bonus dream sequence. We learn how the film is connected to a Disney TV series.

Deleted Scene: Dream Sequence (13:00) is explained in the previous bonus feature. Basically it makes zero sense since it was just done to sell the film in a different market that needed more running time even if it had nothing to do with the plot. Penthouse Pet of the Year Julie Strain is all over the dream.

Request Video Interview with Rif Coogan (12:11) is a tv show with Adam Rifkin playing his fake director from Texas. He swears he nse ver saw movies or TV as a child and his first film was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He has a background story that isn’t quite the “went to film school” routine.

He’s Invisible (4:16) is the video for the theme song. It’s a mix of metal and nerds. I don’t think it made it onto MTV. But it’s here for us all to enjoy.

Behind the Scenes Footage From the “He’s Invisible” music video production (10:05) give us a sense of how they shot the singing.

Original Video Trailer (1:38) wants you to rent the VHS tape. They let us know there will be topless action.

Vinegar Syndrome presents Invisible Maniac. Directed Adam Rifkin. Screenplay by Adam Rifkin. Starring Noel Peters, Shannon Wilsey, Stephanie Blake, Melissa Moore, Clement von Franckenstein, Jason Logan Harris, Robert R. Ross, Jr. and Julie Strain. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 86 minutes. Release Date: November 22, 2022.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.