Sunday, October 18, 2015

Neon Maniacs and Bloody Marys


Director: Joseph Manginess

Cast: Clyde Hayes, Leilani Sarelle, Donna Locke

Code Red / All Region / Rated R / 1.85:1 widescreen / English mono / 91 minutes (DVD cover erroneously says 96 mins.)



Brooklyn, New York's own Joseph Mangine is not known as a director. The only two movies under his belt are the tripped-out sexploitation romp Smoke and Flesh and the teen monster movie Neon Maniacs. He is, however, very well known (or at least should be) for being the cinematographer for some beloved horror and cult films like I Drink Your BloodSquirm, Alligator (I and II), Mother's Day, The Sword and the Sorcerer and many more. So Mr. Mangine knows his way around cheesy '70s and '80s horror like few others.

Neon Maniacs is a rather straightforward yarn about a community of mutants who live under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco and terrorize the teenage high-schoolers in the surrounding area. One girl survives a party in the park slaughter by the Maniacs and the rest of the movie is them trying to kill her and her trying to convince everyone that monsters did the deed. The police—and a rather cute geeky, female horror fan—are trying to track down the disfigured assailants until the ultimate showdown between all involved.

As I was watching Neon Maniacs, I couldn't help but think about the general similarities between Mangine's creation and Clive Barker's Nightbreed aka Cabal. The story and tone are different but the mutant monsters with their own identities like "Archer", "Slash", "Hangman" and "Biker" are very similar. But Maniacs is a much lighter movie with a 8-of-10 cheese factor. I mean, there is a "Battle of the Bands" in the big high school party scene and one of them is an extreme mockery of Motley Crue! The movie has just enough gore and nudity to keep most fans happy, but there are lulls where some may get a little antsy.



Director: Juan López Moctezuma

Cast: Cristina Ferrare, David Young, John Carradine

Code Red / All Region / Rated R / 1.78:1 widescreen / English mono / 91 minutes

EXTRAS: Interview with Henri Bollinger


Mexican filmmaker Juan López Moctezuma has made some of my favorite weirdo art-house horror or all time; the sleazy, satanic nunsploitation flick Alucarda and the Edgar Allen Poe adaptation The Mansion of Madness. He is also a collaborator with mad art-house genius Alejandro Jodorowsky, if that tells you anything about the man and his art. A quick bit of trivia: some of the actors who played the bandits in Jodorowsky's El Topo show up as escaped mental patients in Montezuma's first film, The Mansion of Madness. While Mansion received critical praise, it was not a mainstream hit so the filmmaker would make the Hollywood co-production of Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary.

Bloody Mary is the story of a female painter in Mexico who is running from someone when she meets a man one dark and stormy night. Little does he know that Mary is a serial killer who seduces, drugs and finally stabs and slashes her prey before draining and drinking their blood. And little does SHE know that a copy-cat killer is tracking her. The new couple make love and hang out with artsy-fartsy types while she is still playing the sexy vampire role on the side and the local and international authorities are hot on her trail. Well, they are hot on someone's trail anyway. In this game of cat and mouse (or maybe cat and cat and some mice), who will keep their blood in their body?

Like Moctezuma's other films, Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary is a trippy voyage through the lens of an avant garde filmmaker, but this time he tones it down for the less adventurous crowd. You still get the lavish sets and gothic tone but the story is more linear and less hallucinatory imagery. The lovely Cristina Ferrare plays the titular character with style and gets topless a few times to my happiness. She has beautiful small, natural hooters that sadly never get shown again since she went on to a boring TV career on shows like "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island". The ever-awesome John Carradine plays the other killer who dresses like the pulp hero "The Shadow" and is menacing even in his advanced age.


The picture quality varies for these DVD releases through Code Red DVD. Neon Maniacs comes out a little more polished and is an upgrade from the Anchor Bay release from years ago. For even more of a step up, check out the Code Red Blu-ray version. Since Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary has never had a legit home video release (only a grey market piece of shit from 3D Circus), it's no wonder that this one looks a little more battered. With what Code Red had to work with, they did a pretty impressive job restoring this lost film. It's a darkly lit movie to begin with and even with the restoration a few scenes are still nearly impossible to see. There are also a very few scenes with flashes of scratches and damage, but nothing to stop you from picking it up for your collection.

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