Invisible: The Chronicles of Benjamin Knight (1993)
INVISIBLE: THE CHRONICLES OF BENJAMIN KNIGHT
WRITER: Earl Kenton
DIRECTOR: Jack Ersgard
STARRING: Brian Cousins as Wade
Jennifer Nash as Zanna
Michael Dellafemina as Benjamin
Curt Lowens as Drago
David Kaufman as Ryder
QUICK CUT: A man has trouble being seen during work conflicts, and eventually lets someone else do all the work.
Benjamin - The invisible man, and he loves his fiance a lot, even while she's boning another guy. He has the spirit of a hero, he tries, but never quite succeeds. A year ago in this very section I said, "Don't worry, he'll get his chance some day!" WRONG! WRONG WRONG WRONG!
Wade - The man who would be Mandroid, and is always stealing the limelight from the actual stars of the movie. He's a nice enough guy, if a bit bland, but he's loyal and noble, while he's schtupping Ben's fiance.
Zanna - The love interest. For EVERYone it seems.
Drago - Oh how the mighty have fallen. He once wanted vengeance upon the west. Now he just wants to fix his scars and kidnap women to molest them.
PREVIOUSLY ON TRISKAIDEKAFILES...
"The movie crashes to a conclusion and then reveals that Drago is of course Not Really Dead, and slams up a title card with, "The adventure continues in INVISIBLE: THE CHRONICLES OF BENJAMIN KNIGHT" So, literally this movie served zero purpose save to set up ANOTHER CHARACTER ENTIRELY. A character who did NOTHING in this movie. NOTHING!!
This outrage continues with Invisible, I guess."
And so here we are, exactly a year later, and welcome back Triskelions. It's time for Invisible: The Chronicles of Benjamin Knight. And believe me, the outrage does indeed continue.
AND NOW...THE CONTINUATION...
THE GUTS: Remember how I kept saying the movie spent more time setting up Invisible, rather than actually doing stuff with Mandroid before his movie ended, and how at least we'd have Benjamin doing stuff in his own movie? Ahahaha, strap in my friends.
And yeah, I know I just did a Full Moon movie last time, but I had this one scheduled, and wasn't going to move it. Plus, both movies are different enough with subject matter, stories, and quality, it's fair I think. And it's my site goddamnit.
We open up in Eastern Europe in the present time...of 1993, I guess. And oh hai Mandroid. Our plastic pal who's fun to be with stomps around the forest until he comes across a man pinned under his tractor, which somehow happened in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. But whatever, it happens. Mandroid lifts up the tractor and saves the guy
Mandroid has officially done more in THIS movie than in the entirety of his own previous damned movie. Also, it's always great to start off your movie with an entirely other character saving the day.
We head back to Mandroid Labs to meet team Mandroid, and Zanna is still around, and asks Wade where Mandroid is. Well, Mandroid is here! That's great, now where's our title character?? Due to the events of the last movie, they're trying to stay on the down low, but Wade keeps taking Mandroid out to save people, because it gets him out, and gets him walking.
The movie doesn't explicitly SAY that, but I'll fill in those gaps gladly, since they make perfect sense. But okay fine, set these guys up, they are close with our hero, then we can get right to Invisible after the credits, right??
Instead of that though, we instead see a pair of women driving along and wishing they could get out of this nowhere backwoods country, and find a nice American to take them away from all this splendor.
There's a bunch of typical villagers straight out of stereotype casting who run the car off the road, kidnap the women, and take them back to...Ivan Drago's lair. Yep, even Mandroid's villain comes along for the ride. But instead of trying to get revenge on America, he's kinda settled down to run a kidnappy rapey sex dungeon with the local schlubby hobbits.
He's uh...he's shifted to some rather modest goals, I see. Today, the world...tomorrow...I grab a boob!
Team Mandroid is still doing their supercon thing, or trying to anyways. For some random reason, they can't seem to quite get things right, and there's a malfunction. Wade manages to use the suit and stop the laser before things get out of hand. It does seriously damage and melt Mandroid's hands though, so...again, still not that indestructible.
Following that, we head over to the local hospital (Or Pital as the sign says, there's no ho here!) and we see a mysterious doctor who is never explained poking at a bandaged up Benjamin Knight.
Yeah, that's right, it's 12 whole minutes before we even SEE Benjamin. ...Or rather, don't see, but you know what I mean. And even then, he's just laying in bed all bandaged up.
It's Benjamin's movie, and WADE has a sex scene before Ben's even out of bed. With Ben's fiance no less!! Also, that's another plot they never really deal with or even tell Ben about. Whoops!
But sure, let's spend more time back with the villain from Mandroid and his captured women dancing for him, before we even get around to the title character.
We finally get Benjy getting out of bed and leaving the Pital, and there is less than an hour left to go. It's nice to see if nothing else, the pacing and structure established in Mandroid remains consistent.
Everyone heads back to Mandroid Labs, and Ben is reluctant to take off his bandages. It's not like they'll be horrified by what they don't see. But we do get to see some invisible man style gags, so there's that.
Ben even makes a joke about taking his clothes off for Zanna, and NO ONE MENTIONS how she just boned the other guy in the room the night before.
They give him a supercon treatment that should make him visible again, because sure. A new fuel source will cure invisibility. I mean, it caused it, so I guess there's logic there, but just barely. Also later, they tell him if he touches a supercon crystal, he'll turn invisible. SCIENCE!
Ben works out so they can see how he's recovering, and how the formula is working, but Zanna worries that all the extra exertion might affect the treatment now coursing through his system. As if on cue, Ben has a bit of a seizure, a bit of a psychotic break, and they try and use Mandroid to calm him down. Which leads to a hilarious invisible gag of a business suit attacking the Mandroid with an axe.
This is a plot point that will never again come up. He never again has rage issues. If he did have random moments of blind anger, that would've been actually interesting and brought me joy.
Aaaaand Ben is back in bed recovering, because heaven forbid the lead character spends any time on his feet doing stuff in his own movie. As if that wasn't bad enough, the movie flashes back to his accident in Mandroid. This movie already has plenty of Mandroid! We don't need FOOTAGE from the other movie too!!
Meanwhile, we find out Wade has been making a new Mandroid control unit, and it's shrunk from a giant helmet down to a pair of not at all fashionable shades. Sure, let's just spend time upgrading the guy from the other movie.
Oh hey, there's an actual plot point happening. The new lab assistant, whom I have not mentioned yet because who cares, is actually a traitor working for Drago, still trying to get the supercon. So at least he still has THAT goal in mind. Also, Mandroid Labs really need to do something about their hiring practices if they keep getting traitors like this.
FINE fine, Ryder IS being blackmailed with his father held captive, but still, he's spying on them for Drago.
Meanwhile, they are making a second attempt at curing Ben, and hey, this time it actually works, and he's visible again! VISIBLE: THE CHRONICLES OF BENJAMIN KNIGHT!
To Wade's credit, he actually is suspicious of Ryder, and rolls in on him just in time to interrupt him stealing some supercon. He still gets away with a few crystals, but the gig is up as he drives off in a panic to get the samples to Drago.
But one should not steal supercon and drive, since the stuff still has bad reactions to air, and they start so smoke and burn in his pants. Before you can ask, hey is that supercon in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Ryder tosses them into the passenger seat...and immediately crashes the car.
I swear, these two movies have more car crashes per hour than your average Hollywood blockbuster.
The car explodes and kills Ryder, with a little help from the supercon fumes. They imply later when they check out his dead body, that he's not quite normal anymore, and I presume something similar to what happened to Benjamin is happening to Ryder. But they couldn't be bothered to actually show us, so who knows?? But his spirit will go on to be Danny Phantom, so it's okay.
Since the cops are suspicious about what happened to their predecessors, rightly so I might add, and this is a strange case, they hold Zanna for questioning. Fortunately Ben is in there with her, and with a little help from Wade, they break her out. You couldn't even let the title character be a singular hero this once?
I will never stop being amused however, by people flinging themselves around pretending to be punched by an invisible man.
Our heroes make their escape, it leads to a car chase, a few more car crashes, and our heroes murdering a few innocent police officers probably.
They rush back to Mandroid Labs, grab whatever they can, because that's the first place the rightly pissed off officers of the law will look, then head off into the woods to hide out at Zanna's dad's old hunting lodge. Or, y'know, the SECOND place they would think to look.
Wade heads upstairs to stall the cops a little as the rest make their escape, and the chief orders his men to search the house. For the INIVISBLE MAN!
The cops apprehend Wade, and take the Mandroid with them. I swear, this movie spends more time with Mandroid than its own title character. INVISIBLE! Aptly named, because you never see the main character!! Hell, it almost spends more time with prostitutes than it does with its titular character.
While Zanna and Ben go and hide out in the woods, Wade deals with the cops, as he gets questioned about Dr. Zimmer and Joe Smith from the first movie. And the cop tosses over Wade's wheelchair. Wow. Just...WOW. I could side with the cops just wanting to figure out what's going on as laws are breaking all around, but WOW that is not called for.
Drago's goons arrive up in the woods, since he and Zimmer used to go there when they were friends, so of course he too knows to check there. They kidnap Zanna while Benjy's out for a walk, and we have something to at least drive the final act.
The cops start to use drugs to try and make Wade talk, but they suddenly start flinging themselves around the room, allowing him to escape. Oh wait, that's probably Ben showing up to save the day.
There IS some weird logic to teaming him up with Mandroid, I will admit. When they go in to save Zanna, instead of just watching nothing walk down a hall, you have a character there to focus on and shoot around.
Unfortunately, it does raise the dual questions of "why even bother having Benjamin?" besides well we set him up in the first movie, and also, "Why not just make this Mandroid 2?" if you're not going to give Benjamin his due. And really, its clear this is nothing more than Mandroid 2, more than it's "Invisible".
Everyone arrives at Drago's lairhouse with his rapey hobbits, and they're all in time for tonight's entertainment, Zanna on the table. At least she uses her dancing to get close to Drago and get a knife at his throat.
They struggle, she runs, our heroes wander the halls of the lairhouse for a bit, killing time because this movie is so damned short they gotta pad it out some with random mobs in the hallways. But they do at least free all the women.
Eventually, Zanna runs off and finds herself in a room with a giant open pit in the middle of it, glowing red.
...Did she just stumble into a room with a pit straight to hell in it?! Who even has that in their living room??
Anyways, the locals tie her up and dangle her over the pit, because we gotta have someone in peril I guess. And if you're gonna have a hole for Frodo to toss the One Ring into, you might as well use it for something.
The hobbits start flinging themselves around, and even Drago doesn't understand why. He just keeps asking, why do you keep hitting yourselves??
Ben and Drago fight, and the Man in the Iron Mask actually manages to get the invisible man with a sword strike.
And you know what happens? This puts Benjamin out of commission for the rest of the movie. This is such a disgrace to Ben, such a slap in the face of what should be HIS movie, I'm gonna try and wrap this up quickly.
Zanna heads off with a sword, fights Drago in a very slowly choreographed fight, Wade gets attacked by one of the hobbit goons, so he gets a heroic moment. Zanna gets HER heroic moment killing Drago, and what does Ben get?
Ben gets dick.
Ben gets stabbed in the stomach, and lays on the cold stone floor for the rest of his movie.
Ben doesn't even get the girl.
Benjamin's ultimate contribution to what should be his own damned movie is, he spends most of it in bed, then punches a few guys, allowing Mandroid to save the day? Hell, Zanna stabbed and killed Drago, SHE did more than Ben.
I'm... I just... Fuck this movie. Benjamin Knight deserved better. After their murder spree, our heroes drive off to get away from all the heat they've brought down on themselves, and bring their reign of chaos to America, in a movie that was never made.
I love that I bookend these reviews with the same joke about Mandroid driving the car. BUT YOU HAVE THREE PEOPLE IN THE CAR WHO CAN DRIVE!
Video: This feels slightly better than the usual early Full Moon DVD fare. It's still a bit washed out, but it looks solid enough.
Audio: Sounds decent.
Sound Bite: "Don't be afraid, it's only a machine! KILL THE MACHINE!"
Body Count: I feel like I must have missed some, because there's so few this time around...
1 - 38 minutes, Ryder dies in a supercon explosion.
2 - One of Drago's men gets about sixty bullets in him from Mandroid
3 - Drago gets run through by Zanna.
Best Corpse: If they had SHOWN him, I'm sure Ryder coulda been a contender. But as it is, with such limited choice, it's gotta be Drago, for getting run through, and then just unceremoniously pushed out a window by Zanna.
Blood Type - F-: This movie might be completely bloodless. They toned down Drago's melting face, which was understandable as he's slowly curing his condition. But other than that, nothing to say.
Sex Appeal: Several ladies in various states of nakedness, and some beefcake from Wade too.
Drink Up! Every time Benjamin wanders back into his won movie. This will surprisingly not get you drunk.
Video Nasties: For some fun with the actual invisible effects they use, and a brief clash between Iron Man and the Invisible Whoa Man, here's a clip from the middle of the flick.
Movie Review: Guess what? I didn't like this! The pacing is atrocious, it's not a movie about Benjamin. His Chronicles include "stayed in bed all day, then tried to save Zanna and got knocked out." The acting is nothing to write home about. The invisiblity gags are actually well executed for the era and budget. I like the characters and ideas here, but Mandroid and Invisible are two halves of a whole that don't add up to more than the sum of their parts. Two out of five supercon crystals.
Entertainment Value: If I wasn't so frustrated, I'd at least have fun, I'm sure. The bizarreness is palpable, the low budget nature makes it cheesy fun. The acting is hammy. And it's a fun setup of a potential universe that never materialised. Three out of five iron masks.