Thursday, 15 October 2015

NEON MANIACS **** USA 1985 Dir: Joseph Mangine. 91 mins

A very likeable and very 80’s teen horror with more monsters than it can handle: 12 nocturnal creatures with self-explanatory names like “Ape”, “Decapitator”, “Doc” (played by Andrew Divoff) and “Samurai” massacre a bunch of partying teens in San Francisco, leaving surviving virgin Leilani Sarelle to convince the authorities of the unlikely truth. Also along for the ride are a musician (Allan Hayes) who fancies Sarelle and a tomboy horror fan (Donna Locke) who has posters of GREMLINS and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON.
There are plenty of 80’s horror clich├ęs and standards, from extended nightmare sequences and hand-on-shoulder scares to the virginal heroine who looks good in a swimsuit and intentionally camp humour (notably the pink-slippered dog-walker troubled by a severed arm falling from a passing bus). It also has considerable charm, with an eager-to-please goofiness reflected by the busy climax in which limb-loppings and beheadings alternate with amusingly absurd images of cops arming themselves with water pistols and hoses to destroy the water-fearing monsters. The cheese highlight is an extended “Battle of the Bands” party sequence in which the drippy hero dresses up like Shakin’ Stevens and sings a lame pop tune that starts, appropriately enough, with the line “Let me ruin your evening…” The ending predictably sets up a franchise that never happened, and this remains your only chance to see an over-crowded but engaging showcase for Hangman, Mohawk and chums.

Review by Steven West

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