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Rated R
Copyright 1986 Cimarron Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 4 June 2006

The Characters:  

  • Natalie - She wanted losing her virginity to be special. I would say she succeeded.
  • Steven - The sort of grocer, musician, athletic heartthrob that girls melted over during the 80's.
  • Paula - Young girl with an interest in the macabre. Her house is in Amityville, NY, but she goes to school in California.
  • Ray, Sue, Wally, and 95% of Natalie's other friends - Dead within the first fifteen minutes.
  • Lieutenant Devin - Dead, but he made it to the very end. Pretty good for a detective in a horror movie.
  • The Neon Maniacs - Ape, Archer, Decapitator, Mohawk, Samurai, and others. Many of them get melted.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

You know, this film interests me. It certainly is a low budget slasher/monster film, but it does a few things right. The characters are limited. A whole bunch are thrown at you early on; they are just there to die. The three protagonists are easy to identify and exhibit at least some degree of believable personalities and speech. The locations are also limited to those that most viewers can easily identify with: a park, the subway, a house, and a public high school. Most of the scenes have adequate illumination, too. There are also quite a few Neon Maniacs. None of the costumes are particularly good (the "Soldier" is particularly bad), though each has a distinct style of butchering a victim. Many of these traits could have been due to the money available. They still prevent the movie from being a total drag. Most of all, the actors seemed like they were having fun making the film. That always earns my appreciation.

I should add a caveat about the subway. Everyone living in a Nebraska cornfield might be lost. The rest of us are good. Except the New Yorkers, who probably think the subway was a set constructed for the movie, because it is so clean.

Our opening sequence is set to instrumental synthesizer music that strikes me as tremendously out of place. It sounds like it belongs in a porn movie. Not an actual sex act, but a plot scene where the girl is driving down the highway. Maybe her slow dancing with the next roto-rooter stud, just prior to wild fornication on the hood of his Ferrari. That sort of music.

The music gives way to Natalie and her friends. The gang is stuffed into Ray's van and headed to a park near the Golden Gate Bridge for some end-of-the-school-week action. They briefly bump into Steven, out jogging his dog, while making a pit stop for beer. Natalie makes eyes at the young man briefly before the sliding door is slammed shut. Off to the park they go.

What do horny teenagers always do in horror movies? Yes! They pair up and separate, while one or two wander off alone. You are one smart cookie, do you know that? In fact, go get yourself a cookie. Now.

Natalie is one of the loners, since she recently broke up with Todd (whoever he was). She hangs out in the van while everyone else gets their groove on. Until, that is, the Neon Maniacs arrive. Then everyone gets dead. The supernatural killers wipe out the teenagers with a crossbow, a noose, and other similar implements. Ray and Lisa are killed within sight of the van. Despite what you might think, seeing her friends killed fails to wig out Natalie. What does it is seeing the Ape Maniac shuffling toward the van. She looks for the keys, but cannot find them and resorts to cowering in the back while the fiends attack the vehicle. The assault eventually stops and the sliding door whips open. Two cops are standing outside.

You mean to tell me that the sliding door was unlocked the entire time?

The police do not believe a word of the frightened girl's statement. What troubled me is that the van had obviously been vandalized (holes in the windshield, etc.). For some reason the police wait until morning to start investigating the crime scene! By that time it has rained and all they can find are some glowing slime puddles. No bodies, but a lot of very worried parents are soon breathing down the backs of the police and Natalie.

One person interested in what happened in the park is Paula, who also attends Natalie's high school (must be a freshman). She goes snooping around the park until an officer runs her off. Remarkably, there are only two police at the park, and they seem to be a routine patrol. Seven kids disappeared a few hours ago! I would expect a couple of investigators looking for clues, not two bored cops. The reason they are present is to die anyway, because the Maniacs get them. Paula narrowly misses the same fate after sneaking back in after dark to look around some more. She does gain valuable knowledge during her nighttime foray. Not only does she figure out that the creatures live inside the Golden Gate Bridge, but she observes a Maniac come in contact with water. The Maniac also sees her. Brave or not, the young girl hightails it back home.

What happened when the Maniac touched the water? Its arm melted and steam enveloped the afflicted villain. Why something allergic to water would live in San Francisco, under the Golden Gate Bridge, is an enigma. From what I can tell, the rainfall is not heavy in San Francisco when compared to cities on the East Coast. It is fairly wet for California and there is the issue of that famous San Francisco fog. I imagine the Neon Maniacs would find fog a bit disagreeable.

Steven delivers a load of groceries to Natalie's house, giving him an angle to ask her out on a date. The young lady's mother is on a European vacation with someone (stepfather, boyfriend). Natalie has a great house to herself and feels mighty insecure. She also thinks Steven is cute or something, so she agrees.

The date takes a dangerous turn when the two kids enter the subway after going out to see a movie. Several Neon Maniacs trail the pair to the deserted platform. Luckily, a train arrives as the fiends jump out. Steven and Natalie rush aboard, but are then trapped as several Maniacs converge on them from opposite directions. One killer even murders the driver and takes control of the train. Death looks certain for the lovebirds; they escape, by my reckoning, because the script says so.

Following a fitful night of sleep on adjacent couches, Steven and Natalie are visited by Paula. The Maniacs are after her as well. It is obvious to all three teenagers that the creatures intend to continue the hunt until they finally kill their prey. However, the kids are armed with knowledge of the Neon Maniacs' weakness. They come up with a silly plan to ambush the demons at a school battle of the bands. By handing out squirt guns, each and every person in the crowd will become a monster melting conscript in the battle.

Squirt guns for the crowd? Sure, but I would keep a bucket of water balloons handy and perhaps rig the sprinkler system as a backup.

As expected, the Neon Maniacs show up at the battle of the bands. They are difficult to spot, because the event has a Halloween theme (they bill it as something else related). Our heroes' squirt gun tactic goes to pot when a before-unseen Maniac with an assault rifle starts spraying bullets. Not that he hits anyone; it just causes a general panic. Steven tries to rescue the plan by telling everyone, "Use your squirt guns!" Yeah, right. Faced with a rotting soldier indiscriminately firing bursts into the crowd, not many (or any) are likely to stop and squeeze off a squirt or two. Paula finds her own weapon ineffective and pulls a fire hose off the wall.

While Paula kicks butt with her H2O stream of righteous cleansing, Steven and Natalie are pursued down darkened school hallways by various Maniacs. They eventually hide in a science classroom and actually get it on. Five minutes after seeing a few people killed, hoping to goodness that a freak with an axe does not bust through the door, and Natalie suddenly thinks it is the right time to lose her virginity? I will never understand women.

The school debacle finally convinces Lieutenant Devin that Natalie might be telling the truth. A whole bunch of cops (armed with squirt guns) and a firetruck converge on the Neon Maniacs' lair. A cursory search reveals nothing, but the Lieutenant stays behind after everyone else leaves...

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Dogs can sense when someone is an asshole.
  • The only contraceptive method available in 1986 was the pill.
  • Police never begin murder investigations before dawn.
  • Cheap VHS camcorders come with night vision as a standard feature.
  • Nobody, and I do mean nobody, uses the San Francisco mass transit system.
  • Sometimes the only thing between you and a bloody death is a water pistol.
  • California high school students have easy access to beer. In fact, it is provided at school functions.
  • Super Soakers were invented to provide the children of San Francisco with a way to protect themselves from supernatural killers.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 1 min - Interesting prophecy. Was it written by someone wacked out on PCP?
  • 11 mins - Did all these kids just read "Self-Reliance" last week? Start yelling for help, you idiots!
  • 18 mins - Rome is in Italy, in case that is what you were stuck on.
  • 39 mins - How long has the police officer been looking at that door?
  • 51 mins - Ahhhhhhhh! My eyes!
  • 64 mins - A new Maniac and he has an M16. That will probably have more range than a water pistol.
  • 87 mins - You are going to hear some jokes at the precinct tomorrow...


  • Girl: "Did you hear that sick sound?"
    Boy: "Yeah, it was creepy. Probably your mom howling out her anti-sex warning."
  • Lt. Devin: "What is that?"
    Detective: "Guuk, slime...nobody knows yet. Forensics found it all around here."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note neonmaniacs1.wav Narrator: "When the world is ruled by violence and the soul of mankind fades, the children's paths shall be darkened by the shadows of the Neon Maniacs."
Green Music Note neonmaniacs2.wav Natalie: "What's his or her name?"
Steven: "Dog."
Natalie: "You named your dog "Dog?"
Steven: "See, I thought about 'Cat', but..."
Green Music Note neonmaniacs3.wav Paula: "Look, what I'm saying is that the only defense against these things is water. Just plain old water."
Steven: "Water."
Paula: "Water."
Green Music Note neonmaniacs4.wav Lt. Devin: "Now let me get this straight. You're telling me that these, these things are inside the Golden Gate Bridge, one. Two, that they only come out at night. And three, that they're responsible for the death of fifteen or more kids and three of my police officers."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipneonmaniacs1.mpg - 2.6m
Steven and his friend were about to be chopped to death, but Paula uses the hose to hit the Neon Maniac with a stream of water. It blows his head off! Some other carnage is happening in the gym as well. In case you were wondering, I think that there are supposed to be more than one of the reptile creatures that use gaffs to drag away dead bodies.

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