Neon Maniacs (1986)

It’s unfortunate when you run across a film that you want to like a whole lot more than you end up actually enjoying. But this movie is a lot like its poster: it screams “WAY AWESOME” but then fails to hold up once under scrutiny. For instance, why are the twin towers there? The movie takes place in San Francisco. Second, why is it called Neon Maniacs? Yes, there are maniacs, but there’s a distinct lack of neon in this movie. Also, why is that one guy dressed as a samurai?

In fact, that’s a great question for the movie too. Neon Maniacs has an interesting idea: a bunch of killer horror movie tropes live in an abandoned garage under the Golden Gate Bridge. One night the tropes suddenly wander out to attack teenagers, while a weird little monster with a big hook snags their prey’s corpses and hauls the parts away. All that’s left in the morning as evidence is a weird goop that no one can identify. So…why? That’s where Neon Maniacs falls apart. It never gets to the why. Why do these undead maniacs include the likes of a Native American, a G.I., a samurai, a biker, a werewolf, and a doctor, among numerous other things? Why are they working for this weird little monster? And why is it that water is the only thing which can hurt them? Was M. Night Shyamalan involved?

Instead of taking the time to explain this, the teenagers who end up busily conforming to slasher movie tropes instead decide that the cops are useless(which they are in this movie, so I suppose I shouldn’t fault them), so they’re gonna fight off the horde of undead maniacs using water pistols during a costumed battle of the bands at the local high school. Yes, this is seriously their plan. I want this to be cooler than it is. I really, really do. There’s a freaking undead samurai wandering around San Fran, for goodness sake! How awesome is that?! And yet the movie meanders and fails to get to the point so often that it just never gets off the ground.

I will not say it’s a total waste however, as one of the main characters is a monster-loving middle school girl who wants to make horror movies and quickly figures out how to fight the monsters. She then successfully manages to defend herself and do by far the most damage to their ranks than anyone else. She’s seriously the only reason anyone lives, because everyone else is a moron, including the movie itself. But her? She kicks ass, and she does it with an angled baseball cap or while dressed like a little vampire. She’s the kind of young lady you folks with daughters hope your little bundle of joy grows up into: smarter, tougher, and ballsier than just about everyone else in the picture. Hats off to her; she saved this from being a total let down.

Neon Maniacs…what happened? I know you shut down in the middle of production due to a lack of funds, but was the script this lacking to begin with?

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