#31DaysOfHorror: Neon Manics (1986)

52f78awswwzggtddasrm99hnp8pA group of teenagers in San Francisco discover a nest of homicidal monsters living in a tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, but when they try to tell authorities, no one believes them.

Holy shit you guys, Neon Maniacs is a terrible movie. The script is terrible, the acting is ridiculous, the monsters look stupid, and it doesn’t make any sense what-so-ever.

But I loved it.

This is one of those lovely little movies that comes along every now and again that just tickles you in just the right way. Directed by cinematographer Joseph Mangine, and written by Mark Patrick Carducci (Pumpkinhead), Neon Maniacs perfectly encapsulated the sleazy side of horror in the mid 80’s. The budget is low, and so is everything else; somehow it crossed someone’s mind that a story about a gang of monsters who live under the Golden Gate Bridge would be a 10 out of 10 idea, and it was. They were right.

One of the most baffling parts of the movie is trying to decipher the cast list and determine who played a monster and who played a regular person, because so many of the monsters have bizarrely regular first names. Rather than try to learn them, I’ll tell you the ones that stood out in my mind. The cast of monsters is huge in this movie, and I have no idea who thought that this would make the movie better. A movie with one great monster is effective because you spend time with the monster, and build suspense. Here, they are a random smorgasbord of monsters with no cohesion or unifying feature. There is a samurai monster, a hangman monster, a doctor monster, a soldier monster, and, perhaps the greatest of all, a one-eyed swamp monster. There are a bunch of other ones, but those are the ones that stand out the most.

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The movie follows three characters primarily, a young horror-fanatic and film maker, a pretty virgin (because it’s the 80’s and of course she is), and the cute-but-inexplicably-ostracized male love interest; played by Donna Locke, Leilani Sarelle (Basic Instinct), and Clyde Hayes (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter), respectively. While the performances are actually pretty fun and charming in a way that only movies from this time can be, the script hampers their ability to do much with it. Credit where credit is due though, they did what they could. Donna Locke in particular is a delight to watch from start to finish, tragically it appears to be the only movie she ever starred in.

While the movie is goofy and fun from start to finish, it does lag in a few spots. Particularly during the battle-of-the-bands scene near the end, which spends so much time on the bands performing. You watch at least two full performances, and then half of a third, and it just goes on for way to long. It almost feels like they had this footage of bands performing that they really wanted to use and then built a film around it.

This is the perfect kind of movie to throw on with a group of people and have a few drinks. It’s goofy, over the top, and complete and total nonsense, but I genuinely had a good time watching it, but I don’t recommend checking it out by yourself because it’s hard to laugh at something when no one’s around.

In the end, Neon Demons is one of those forgotten goofy monster flicks from the 80’s that actually might have been remembered with a bit more gore, and a bit less band performances. It ranks pretty low, considering the caliber of some of the better movies that were released the same year, like Aliens and The Fly, but if you’re looking for a good/bad movie that you probably haven’t seen, you could do much worse.

MY RATING: ***

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