Neon Maniacs (1986)
By: Devon B. on October 19, 2015 | Comments
Code Red | Region Free | 1.78:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 2.0 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Joseph Mangine
Starring: Allan Hayes, Leilani Sarelle, Donna Locke, Victor Elliot Brandt, Bo Sabato
Screenplay: Mark Patrick Carducci
Country: USA
Sometimes I come up with funny things to say while watching a movie and I wish someone was around to appreciate them. And then there are the times that I just sing, "Neon maniacs, maniacs on the floor" for 91 minutes then realise that there's a valid reason that I'm frequently left to my own devices.

The Neon Maniacs honestly don't spend much time on dance floors because they're frequently outside. One night they're outside in a park when a group of friends foolishly make the mistake of having a gathering there. Most of the party are slaughtered, but one girl avoids death. For some reason she has trouble convincing anyone that her friends were killed by a bizarre troupe of monsters, which is handy because it gives the maniacs the opportunity to track her down and try and finish the job.

Neon Maniacs had somehow existed entirely under my radar until Code Red announced their Blu-ray. I must've heard of it at some point, but it was news to me that there was a low budget 80s flick about a bunch of mutants killing teenagers. I researched it and found the film has mixed reviews, and having seen it that makes perfect sense because it is uneven. The proceedings can be a bit slow, the high schoolers look old enough to be post graduates and the scripting can be lazy. This last element can lead to some fun, like when one character delivers what has to be the greatest comeback of all time, "That's pretty quick, pasta breath." It's such an odd line because the character is acknowledging a dig from another guy, which wasn't so much quick as homophobic, and falls back on either the lamest insult of all time or a racial stereotype, so he's criticising a comeback with one of the worst comebacks ever. Maybe the guy is meant to be a moron, but he's dies soon thereafter so that's a tough thing to assess. The worst thing about the movie, as is frequently the case for 80s movies, is the music, and Neon Maniacs unfortunately climaxes with a battle of the bands that made me envy the deaf.

Those are the negatives, but the movie does have a lot going for it. There are some flashes of hilarious inspiration in the story, like one cop who unleashes his inner child when he finds a pushbike or the weapon of choice the teens choose for the final showdown. The direction is flat but competent, and while no one in the cast was robbed at Oscar time, most of the cast are ably suited to this silly material. The film's raison d'etre is naturally the maniacs, and they are impressive. There's a cop, a caveman, a biker, a solider, an Indian, an archer, a surgeon and even a samurai, so they're kinda like the mutant Village People. There's also some sort of one eye reptile guy…the list is endless. Actually, according to the cover their numbers aren't infinite, they're 12. I might've miscalculated the number because sometimes the mutants are played by different people throughout the movie. The quality of the makeup varies, like the caveman is pretty much just a dude in a loincloth, but their latexy faces give the film a playful, cartoony feel that I enjoyed.

Since the star attractions kept me entertained I was willing to overlook most of the movie's flaws. It's dumb, but at least it's dumb fun.
The Disc
The print for Neon Maniacs can sport good detail, but a lot of the movie takes place in darkness, so there is some crush and general murkiness. Daylight scenes look a bit dark, too, and colours can run a bit hot. The print has specks and spots but is mostly clean, and overall the transfer was acceptable for an obscure 80s exploitationer. The film's original ratio was 1.85:1 so this release is cropped slightly. The audio for the movie sometimes belies its low budget, with background audio altering within a scene. There are also a few moments of distortion and some "s" hisses. Otherwise this is a good track, and all the flaws on the track seemed source based to me. People that want a 5.1 mix for everything might be sad, but those people caused the shoddy remix of The Outlaw Josey Wales so I'm still mad at them and don't care what they want. The disc includes the trailer, an interview with make-up artist Allan Apone and an isolated music track for weirdoes that just want to listen to the score. The interview with Apone runs nearly 13 minutes and is not anamorphic. Apone explains some of the unevenness was caused by producers taking over some of the direction and that budget issues interfered with the production. He also runs through all the maniacs, which is handy for anyone keeping a list more accurate than the one I offered before.
The Verdict
Neon Maniacs isn't a classic, but it is an intriguing curio. The Blu-ray isn't packed with extras, but the fact that this movie got an HD transfer is a marvel in and of itself.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
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