Sunday, September 6, 2015

On Second Viewing: Neon Maniacs (1986)

Like all human beings, I tend to be wrong, or at least change my opinion on some movies. I loved "Prometheus" when it came out. Revisiting it-not a very good movie. I remember originally liking "Night of the Sorcerers", yet upon revisiting it, I found it to be rather boring. Then there's the case of "Neon Maniacs", the sole directorial effort of cinematographer Joseph Mangine. When I first saw it, I didn't like it. I found it to be stupid, and at times offensively so. Revisiting it, I still found it to be stupid-yet, in many ways, I found it to be the right kind of stupid. The kind you see in movies like "Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers" and "Night of the Demons". I can't call it a good movie, but dammit if it didn't entertain me in spit of itself.

The premise deals with a group of killers called the Neon Maniacs. Granted, this is because 1.) the movie is called "Neon Maniacs", and 2.) The opening narration calls them this. Outside of that, they are never called "The Neon Maniacs". Anyways, they run roughshod on a group of partying kids, killing most of them off because they are partying kids in an 80's horror film, leaving Natalie (Leilani Sarelle)  as a survivor. Now, she and her boyfriend Steve (Clyde Hayes) have  to find a way to stop the maniacs. Oh, and Paula (Donna Locke). She's basically the female version of Tommy Jarvis from "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter", as she loves horror movies and even has some posters of movie monsters on her wall. She also knows about these things, and finds out the only way to stop them is with water. Also, these things can only be stopped by water, but they live under the Golden Gate Bridge.

One of the things that sticks out the most of the movie is the maniacs themselves, which are also the only original thing about the the movie. They all have different outfits and identities-a Samurai, a doctor (played by Andrew Divoff), A killer with blades for hands, one dressed like a Native American-in short, they are essentially the horror equivalent of the Village People, only there are more maniacs than there are Village People. When I first saw this, I hated it and thought it was just dumb. Revisiting it-it's still dumb, but at least it's original. That's because, when you get down to it, this is a slasher movie. So in that way, it's actually a unique twist on the old slasher villain. Why have one or two killers when you can have a dozen?

Outside of that-it's a fun guilty pleasure. Hardly a classic (the score ranges from decent to sounding like it belongs to an 80's sitcom. That and the direction isn't always up to par) but not a horrible waste of time. The acting for the large part is better than what you usually get from a movie like this, and the gore, while not overwhelming, is pretty solid (especially a sequence where Paula kills one of the the maniacs in a tub, which brought back found memories of "Street Trash"). That and the whole cheesy 80's vibe of the thing is actually somewhat charming the second time around. The goofy slasher villains, the dated fashions, the bright neon colors (ironically, these things are called The Neon Maniacs, but outside of their blood, there's nothing particularly neon about them) couldn't help but amuse me. Oh, and of course, this:

A battle of the bands. One is a poor man's Rick Springfield, singing a song called "Baby Lied". The other is a cheesy 80's metal band (complete with hilarious "tough guy" posturing) with a song called "We've Had Enough." It's so fucking stupid. And I found it hilarious. The whole thing is so goofy, it becomes endearing. The kind of dumb horror movie that is in no way offensively bad, and ends up being fun in spite of itself.

Don't confuse me here: This is not a good movie. At all. Among it's other crimes is the fact that when you get down to it, nothing about it makes a lick of sense. However, as far as 80's cheese goes, it isn't that bad. Really, it's the kind of dumb but largely inoffensive genre film that managed to warm up to me upon re-watching it. So much that I kinda want to smack the version of me that hated it years ago,

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