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 clichés 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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