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Neon Maniacs

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I was originally cast as the character "Samurai" in this movie, which part I got by visiting the Hollywood casting office with my US Navy WWII-vintage machete and whirling it around a-la Conan. They "loved me" (pressed against the walls of the smallish office as tightly as they could!), and gave me the part on the spot. When I took it, however, I told them I'd be getting married in Phoenix in November. "No problem,: they said. "You'll be shooting all your scenes in October."

Before the filming, they made a cast of my head (I spent 20 minutes encased in goo while breathing through two straws stuck in my nostrils), which I would later see in the Pacoima offices of Krystal Blue Kasting --eerie, to say the least!

Unfortunately, they fell behind schedule, and someone else had to take the part (and what would've been my first credited role). "Postpone your wedding!" they said. "This is art!" The film wasn't released until about two years later; I finally saw it on "USA Up All Night" with Rhonda Sheerer.

"That's my head!", I remember commenting as I saw my replacement for the first time.

-Thanks to JTB

More Behind The Scenes from Neon Maniacs
The Neon Maniacs are a motley crew of homicidal comic-book monsters, each with their own deadly weapon and costume. Like a macabre version of the 'Village People', they arrive as Indians, Soldiers and Cavemen to attack and kill San Francisco teens. Slash, Juice, Doc, Decapitator, Archer, Soldier, Axe, Thing, Biker, Mohawk, Hangman and Samurai, will give you twelve good reasons to be afraid of the dark.

The story begins with a lone fisherman at the Golden Gate bridge. After some nonsensical narration about the Neon Maniacs 'darkening the children's path,' the fisherman turns to leave and discovers a cow's skull with photographs in it. The photos depict our lovable 'Hellraiser-style' zombies. Suddenly, a few of the freaks in the photos show up and 'Samurai' turns the angler into fishfood. Zing!

Nearby, teen beauty Natalie Lawrence (Leilani Sarelle) is having a birthday party in the park with her expendable friends. The Neon Maniacs arrive with nooses and crossbows and naturally, the jocks try and get tough with the armed, leather-clad demons. Everyone except for Natalie buys the farm. The police don't believe her story about monsters killing her friends. They can't find any bodies so whaddya know? - They're on their own.

Natalie recruits her infatuated friend Steven (Alan Hayes), and Paula (Donna Locke), a student who happens to be an amateur ghostbuster, to assist. Everyone else thinks Natalie is nuts (as you would) and she becomes the object of much ridicule. The principal even suspends her because she's disrupting classes.

The only clue the police can find is some green goo around the area. Paula hears about this and follows a trail of the slimy stuff to the lair of the Neon Maniacs under the Golden Gate bridge. When she sees one of them fall into a puddle and start to dissolve like an asprin, it becomes clear that water is their only weakness.

So the third act is heralded by an arsenal of water pistols in the hands of kids and the police. The maniacs break into Paula's house but she destroys them with a squirt gun and a shower. The resourceful critters then attack Steve and Natalie in the deserted San Fransisco subway (ahem) but they manage to get away. Eventually Natalie, Steve and Paula realise that the only way to remain safe is to go to the school dance! I love the 80's!

Steve is the entertainment, playing in a tame rock band and manages to get the audience to carry squirt guns. The Neon Maniacs show up at the dance and begin slaughtering people. Paula turns the fire-hose on them and wets them to death.

Inspector Devin (Victor Brandt) leads a bunch of police cars and fire trucks to the lair of the Neon Maniacs. They don't find anything so Devin dismisses them, but upon taking one last look around an abandoned truck, he opens the doors and the maniacs inside rack up another entry on the body count.

I guess the intended sequel just never happened :-)

Verdict?

Cult Classic Alert! Neon Maniacs is so bad, it becomes wonderful by virtue of its utter lameness! Although ludicrous in its very conception and jaw-droppingly bad in its execution, I must admit a total love for this piece of nonsense. An army of monsters committing heinous acts in a major city, with absolutely no explanation of why! What's not to like? Consider this: Somebody spent a million dollars on this. Let me just say that again: Somebody spent a million dollars on this. You gotta love that!

I imagine the producers were probably poised for major success in the merchandising market: 'Collect all the figures each with a special weapon' - but unfortunately they were making a turkey, so such things never came to pass. The monsters themselves were very entertaining though, each evil incarnation has his own special skill or talent: whether you consider it a talent to choose an axe over a sword, depends on entirely how dark you are :-)

I think that any serious horror movie that allows its monsters to be easily killed by water is going to have problems in the scare department, but with a little more talent in the writing and directing, this genuinly sinister idea could have worked along the lines of 'Nightbreed' with the throwaway 50's comic-book angle of 'Monster Squad.'

As a goof, this movie is priceless and the abrupt ending with the narration "This rain can't last forever" will leave you feeling cheated and robbed of your time. I say rent it! Or are you too scared?

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Cult classic!
So bad, it's great!
Cool effects and fun monsters

Weaknesses? Poor writing and directing
Silly premise

Our rating: 6.5 out of 10


Review Written by Simon Barber:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Simon Barber
Neon Maniacs