Sunday, 18 September 2011


Neon Maniacs is one of the most sought-after films of my teenage video-renting days. For some reason I've never owned a copy until now, but it was one of the best rentals I ever got back in the day. The cover art alone was enough to entice me in with its promise of mutants and mayhem, and now, after many years, eBay has provided me with a gloriously well-preserved big-box VHS tape of this glorious horror/SF/comedy movie. Twelve varied, mutated, armed and dangerous maniacs attack a group of kids in San Fransisco, hacking them to death and leaving only one survivor, Natalie. She goes to the police, who of course don't believe her story of monsters and carnage, especially as there are no bodies and no evidence other than some green goo.
A young geek girl (and amateur Ghostbuster) believes the tale though, and attempts to learn more with the help of her trusty video camera. Along the way she discovers the secret to harming the monsters, and forges a typically uneasy alliance with Natalie and her new boyfriend Steven, a wholesome guy who happens to front a very wholesome rock band, as they plan to stop the Neon Maniacs (who are now chasing Natalie for reasons that are never explained). The maniacs themselves are a mix of awesome and awesomely bad, either looking fantastic or just plain silly, but it works, dammit.
There are moments in this film that are unintentionally hilarious, such as the gloriously cheesy battle of the bands at the film's climax, but there are also some fine scenes of good old-fashioned 80s horror action, with the various monsters chasing and attacking folks in the blunt visual style of the era. There's no real explanation for the existence of the creatures, or why they can be destroyed a certain way, but that matters little.

Neon Maniacs is a near-perfect slice of low budget 80s horror mayhem, although there's less gore than you may expect. Something that sets it apart from a lot of schlock though is that the main characters are pretty well thought-out, but it's the incredibly endearing geek girl and budding badass Paula (played by Donna Locke, whose IMDB page only has Neon maniacs on it. I wonder what happened to her?) that steals the show.

There's an odd mix of teenage drama, comedy, action and gleefully demented horror at play throughout Neon Maniacs which gives it an atmosphere all of its own, and if you share my love for cheap 80s b-movies, then you are sure to love this film as much as I do. For the proper effect, find a copy on VHS and watch it on an old analogue TV in the middle of the night, and do your best to ignore the jumps in logic that pop up throughout it, or just how incredibly silly the whole thing is. Aaaahhh, perfect.

1 comment:

  1. neon maniacs RULES, can't wait to put my review up on my bloggy. also, i am gonna put cannibal holocaust review up soon. hope you like my blog if you get a chance andrew!