May 29, 2014

Movie Review: Neon Maniacs

The 1980's saw all manner of up and coming and wannabe film makers throw their hat into the horror ring. The results ranged from awesome to the completely unwatchable. Then there is that group of films that are completely inept and make absolutely no sense, yet remain insanely watchable. One of those movies is Neon Maniacs, a movie made way back n 1985 that I was just introduced to on the big screen in a rare 35mm projection. I have to say, for as silly and ridiculous as the movie is, it is hypnotizing in its watchability. Seriously, the movie makes no attempt to explain itself, and as quickly as it begins, it ends.

As the movie begins, we see a man fishing at night in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. He hooks a crab or a shell, or something. Inside is a set of cards depicting each of the maniacs. Ominous music plays and the man is killed. Our movie has begun.

A party of high schoolers is happening nearby. As they goof around, throw around a football and do other, uhm, things, the maniacs show up and lay waste to the party. We see a caveman, an archer, a samurai, a hangsman, and even a one-eyed dinosaur thing deal some death. There is one survivor, Natalie (Leilani Sarelle), but no one believe her story and people apparently blame her for their missing kids.

The cast is padded out with Steven (Alan Hayes), who has a crush on Natalie and actually believes her crazy story. There is also Paula (Donna Locke), a budding film maker who is very curious about Natalie's story. Everyone runs around avoiding the maniacs whenever they show up, until the inevitable conclusion where they think they have defeated the maniacs.

Neon Maniacs makes no attempt to explain itself, it merely is. You will also avoid the presence of some spoilers, with this movie it is not likely going to affect your enjoyment, or lack of, of this film. We are expected to believe that these things are living in a storage area underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, they only come out at night, and don't like water (Hmmm, I wonder if M. Night stole this idea for Signs). Where do they really come from? Why are they locked into roles like demonic Village People?

At one point we follow Paula as she is doing some solo investigating. She discovers some dead pigeons before being discovered by the cops. A joke is made about the pigeons, and the cop stays and looks at them for what seems like hours, but there is never any talk about them. Then Natalie keeps wondering (out loud) why these things are after her. It is a good question, I do not know, the maniacs are not given any sort of context aside from them living under the bridge and only coming out at night.

Our heroes also have the great idea of giving squirt guns to all those attending a battle of the bands (where we get three songs too many). They assume the maniacs will show up. Why? No idea. Well, they do, and instead of getting squirted, everybody runs! Brilliant.

Neon Maniacs is a cheap movie. It looks it, too. You will also notice many of the maniacs were played by more than one person, this is what happens when a low budget production runs out of money and loose access to the cast when they resume. It has a great synth driven score. It is filled with laughable moments and dialogue, such as the make out session in the chemistry lab while being chased by the maniacs. It kind of defies all logic. It is not a good movie, but it has a certain energy and charm that is undeniable. It certainly makes for an enjoyable time, and if you enjoy low budget horror cheese, you will want to check this out.

Mildly Recommended.

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