The Film (3/5)
I first saw Neon Maniacs over 20 years ago when it played on USA - Up All Night. During that period I was introduced to a lot of very cool films through shows like that one, and remember finding the film a hysterical and weird bit of fun. It's a film that sort of got lost in the multitude of genre releases that have come and gone since that time, and I have not revisited it until the Code Red DVD distributed by Kino Lorber made it's way to my door step, and I had a chance to revisit the film sans commercial interruptions.
Neon Maniacs follows Natalie, a young woman whose friends go to party at a San Francisco park only to be massacred by a group of monsters each with an odd individual power like a samurai, soldier, and decapitator (it's odd this film wasn't produced by Charles Band). When she tries to report it to the police, they predictably do not believe her, this, of course, gives the monsters the ability to finish the job. Natalie ends up pairing with Steven a guy that is interested in her, and Paula a young horror fan to hunt down and stop the maniacs before they can kill Natalie and more people.
So in an effort to cut to the chase, Neon Maniacs is not going to win any awards for great horror filmmaking. It is a cheap little horror flick with some decent creature designs, some fun moments, and a score that dates it to the 80's, but suits it wonderfully. It is fun, but it has a mess of problems mostly in it's pacing, and plotting. Look, I'm the last guy that calls out a horror film for it's plot issues. Some of my favorite horror films are the "dreamlike" Eurohorrors of the 70's and 80's, so I frequently excuse these issues, but with Neon Maniacs you have plot threads that are frequently introduced that go nowhere, characters who seem to have a modicum of importance that show up one moment, only to add to the body count in the next, and then the film just seems to end without much of a sense of resolution. I understand a lot of this comes from the fact that production was very stop and go, actors had to leave, new ones had to come, this amidst the usual issues facing a low budget film. That being said it does overall end up being quite a fun time. Of course, there is no excuse for including what may be the absolute pinnacle of terrible musical sequences in this film, but in a way it adds to the bizarreness of the whole thing.
Code Red presents Neon Maniacs on DVD (they also released a Blu-ray that can be purchased independently) with a quite nice 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This transfer shows off a good amount of detail, brings out the garish colors of the film, and has very decent blacks. There is a healthy grain structure at play as well.
The audio is presented in an English mono track that is decent with the dialogue and score coming through mostly clearly, and I did not notice any issues during my play through.
No extras included with the DVD edition
A cheesy, but fun horror film from the 80's Neon Maniacs gets a solid DVD release from Code Red. The transfer looks quite nice, but the extras are lacking. I'd say Rent, before buying.