Neon Maniacs Directed By Joseph Mangine, Starring Clyde Hayes (1986).
--Reviewed By Goat Scrote--
I hold the USA Up All Night show partially responsible for turning me into the freak that I am today, by exposing me to so many wonderfully low-grade horror films side by side with witty underground gems and brain-dead sex comedies. Neon Maniacs falls into the first category, schlocky horror, but it's way too silly to be frightening.
|Archer's hobby is stamp collecting.|
|Juice is the cutest maniac and he knows it.|
The most horrifying aspect for me is the lite jazz-rock in the soundtrack. The movie demonstrates a level of plotlessness usually found only in Italian horror, but with none of the shock value or stylistic sophistication. In other words, it’s a really dumb movie. I chose Neon Maniacs not because it is one of the best movies they showed, but simply because I have such a vivid memory of watching it as a child on USA Up All Night and laughing my butt off at what I thought had to be the worst movie ever made. (How wrong I was.)
It is San Francisco in the middle of the 1980s and there are hideous monsters living under the Golden Gate bridge. Imagine if the Village People were homicidal mutants and you’ve pretty much got the essence of Neon Maniacs. There are something like a dozen of them, each with their own personal theme and unique murder method. They also have their own trading cards for some reason, which go from “near mint” to “blood-soaked” when an early-rising fisherman stumbles across the lair of the maniacs in the opening scene.
|live action version of Garbage Pail Kid's New Wave Dave.|
A roster of maniacs is given in the end credits, which is helpful because there are just so goddamned many of them. It’s like trying to keep track of those fucking dwarves in “The Hobbit”. There’s Ape, Archer, Axe, Decapitator, Doc, Hangman, Juice, Mohawk, Punk Biker, Samurai, Slasher, Soldier, and a creature they named Scavenger. Personally I prefer the name Tiny Reptile Cyclops, it’s much more descriptive.
|Punk Biker is the moody, misunderstood rebel of the group.|
The maniacs come out at night and kill everyone they find. Having sex in Golden Gate Park is hazardous at the best of times, but with these things on the loose, herpes drops several notches on the worry scale. A large group of teens is slaughtered. A lone survivor tells her story to the police. The whole “skeptical police” subplot takes up a lot of screen time but ends up having pretty much no effect on the story.
|I know monster spunk when I see it. Call the Special Victims Unit.|
A plucky young tomboy with TV-reporter ambitions investigates the incident. She discovers the lair of the maniacs and their weakness: They are water-soluble. A well-timed rainstorm helps her escape, but her footage of the monsters is ruined and she has no proof.
|Ape is just looking for the right lady to settle down with.|
Several of the maniacs take cover in the subway, where they hunt the survivor of the first attack and her boyfriend. They also track the plucky tomboy back to her home, but she knows their weakness and uses the power of tap water to destroy her attacker. The three survivors get together and plot a way to stop the killings.
|We're white and outta sight.|
The final half hour of the movie takes place at a battle of the bands at the local high school. They linger on this awesomely 80s musical competition, featuring preppy soft-rockers versus poofy-haired, spandex-clad hard-rockers. After a really unnecessarily long time, all that noise draws in the maniacs.
|He's a neon maniac, maniac on the floor...|
The audience has been provided with squirt guns. This would be a great plan except that everyone panics and runs instead of spraying the bad guys. There’s a good old-fashioned soccer-mob trample which probably kills more people than the monsters themselves.
|A very motley crew.|
|Mohawk gave up a career as an investment banker to fulfill his dream of becoming a neon maniac.|
The police and fire department finally intervene and search the evil lair, but the surviving maniacs are nowhere to be found. The head police detective stays behind alone and gets munched because the searchers were a bunch of incompetent twits, or maybe the maniacs are just really good at hiding.
I am left with many unanswered questions. What’s the difference between a regular maniac and a neon maniac, anyway? Why does each one have a sex-dungeon cosplay theme? What motivates them to kill? Why would creatures like this even exist? Furthermore, why would they live a few feet away from the Pacific Ocean in a very rainy part of the world when they have the same weakness as the Wicked Witch of the West?
|I'm melting! Dorothy, you bitch!|
|Stop hitting on my girlfriend, Toto.|