Written by / 11/21/2018 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , ,

DONNA LOCKE BATTLES 'NEON MANIACS' W/ LEILANI SARELLE

Surfer Fangforth & Tribal Birdspear in NEON MANIACS year: 1986
Right when you think the low budget 1986 horror flick NEON MANIACS is about one thing, it goes in another direction. Which is good and bad...

The bad is it's an awkward and uneven film, dragging at times. The good is pretty much everything else, starting with a nighttime vanful of partying high schools students, which includes a gorgeous blonde who isn't an uptight virgin like the cliché potential sole survivor...

That's because this isn't the usual Body Count Slasher where doomed teens randomly perish along the way. And her shallow girlfriends and jerky guy-friends wind up quickly massacred by the titular maniacs that resemble a creation from a comic book addict's reverie, and there's a combination of nightmarish monstrosities rolled into this lethal gang including tribal warriors and mutant samurais...

Donna Locke as Laura in NEON MANIACS
Enter the film's second ingenue; although she's probably not supposed to be. Usually the young horror-movie-buff within a horror movie is a boy (THE FUNHOUSE, SALEM'S LOT, etc)...

Here it's a short-haired, cute-as-a-button geek-girl named Paula played by Donna Locke, and it blows the mind she wasn't in anything else because she's absolutely brilliant here...

Even upstaging our blonde beauty Leilani Sarelle, who'd later play Sharon Stone's jealous lesbian lover in BASIC INSTINCT and here, just for remaining alive twenty-minutes in, she's a marked woman: venomously sought after in what are the coolest scenes: From her swimming pool, all alone, to a pivotal subway station chase and nighttime bus ride with her newly acquired boyfriend, Clyde Hayes as Steven, introduced as an awkward dweeb till becoming bolder later on (after her popular friends, who had goaded him, are all dead)...

Leilani Sarelle and Donna Locke in NEON MANIACS
Not easy to predict, NEON MANIACS is a hybrid of several genres including Horror, Police Procedural, Film Noir, Supernatural and with shades of a sparse Modern Western...

Like in THE WILD BUNCH, after the rudimentary mass-slaughter set-up, the story plays out as if you're reading along, and that makes the cute horror aficionado the best and most important ingredient as she's basically writing it...

Despite the way Donna Locke's Paula dresses, not only annoying but foreshadowing god-awful fashion trends in the years to come including a sideways baseball cap, she's more than just a curious kid, investigating the creatures in the day-lit aftermath within the park at the foot of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge where they (reportedly) dwell in the bridge's tower.

Leilani Sarelle stalked by the NEON MANIACS
When the Steven Spielberg produced/inspired J.J. Abrams' SUPER 8 came out, centering on a group of GONNIES style kids filming their own horror movie while something palpable emerges from their fictional fantasies, NEON MANIACS wasn't regarded, nor was Paula, shooting a vampire flick at the same deadly location...

And by the time the three main characters join up to destroy the eclectic, frenzied fiends, the movie's almost done. They talk about what's about to happen and it does, albeit at a sluggish pace: Laura the movie buff, having learned, first hand, that the antagonists die from simply having water poured on them (ala THE WIZARD OF OZ), spearheads an 11th hour plan to have all the students at the school's Halloween party show up with squirt guns, and... well...

A ninja style NEON MANIAC on the subway
At this point the best parts have already long played out, and they did so with enough frantic suspense to make NEON MANIACS even more Action-Thriller than Horror...

Yet it still fits the spooky bill as the creature-makeup looks absolutely sublime, and is most likely where most of the money went, and it shows...

But for a low budget picture both directed and photographed by an otherwise legit cinematographer (from THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH to ALLIGATOR to THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER), Joseph Mangine, it flows with style and precision, and with an ambiguous ending, was obviously gnashing and thrashing for a sequel, or sequels: If anything else to give Donna Locke a few more credits. She'd have been the PHANTASM Reggie Bannister of NEON MANIACS only with more hair, and a lot cuter.
Donna Locke NEON MANIACS Donna Locke
Donna Locke in a Sandra Bullock profile from NEON MANIACS
The lovely ingenue Leilani Sarelle in NEON MANIACS
Donna Locke about to sleep on killing the NEON MANIACS
Donna Locke wields a lethal squirt gun on a monstrosity in NEON MANIACS
Leilani Sarelle and Donna Locke and Clyde Hates NEON MANIACS
Leilani Sarelle and Donna Locke and Clyde Hayes
Leilani Sarelle with Friday the 13th and Rad starlet Marta Kober (she's a mess nowadays)
Donna Locke in vampire costume in NEON MANIACS Donna Locke Actress NEON MANIACS
Donna Locke Neon Maniacs
Donna Locke Neon Maniacs
Donna Locke Neon Maniacs
Donna Locke Neon Maniacs
Donna Locke and Leilani Sarelle Neon Maniacs
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