Never Too Young to Die sees John Stamos play Lance Stargrove, a young gymnast in his final year at high school. He believes his father, Drew (George Lazenby), works for an global oil company but in actual fact he is a secret agent currently working on stopping a terrorist plot to poison the city's water supply. Drew gets killed by the terrorist leader Ragnar (Gene Simmons) but manages to delay his nefarious plans by sending an important disc to his son. Lance is shocked to hear of his father's death but takes it upon himself carry on his mission and do his own investigations. He teams up with Drew's former spy partner Danja (Vanity) to take down Ragnar and later gets some additional help from his zany roommate Cliff.
Now if you've seen this film before you're probably wondering why I've left out so many "details". I guess I'm just trying to make a point that the bare bones of this film are okay in a cheesy kids movie kind of way. It's only when you add in the "details" that the film goes completely off the rails. For instance, I didn't mention that Ragnar is a hermaphrodite (not a transvestite, they say hermaphrodite several times) and he's/she's dressed in a leather cat suit and fishnet stockings for the majority of the film! I also didn't mention that Ragnar, as well as being a terrorist, runs a nightclub in a disused factory where everyone dresses like they are in some kind of post apocalyptic future like Mad Max (note: there hasn't been an apocalypse, it's normal 1986 everywhere else). And Ragnar doesn't just run the club from a backroom, he/she sings on stage there every night. Yeah, the little "details" and the overall execution make this one of the most misguided (but hilarious) films I've ever seen.
I mean, what the hell were the makers smoking when they wrote the script? It's so weird tonally because the basic story feels like a kids wish-fulfillment movie but then it's also got this super kinky villain, a pretty high body count and ample nudity courtesy of Vanity. I can't help but feel that partial responsibility may lie with Lorenzo Semple jr who did some uncredited rewrites on the film. He also wrote a lot of the scripts for the campy Batman TV series from the 1960s and there's sense here that the script is trying to be a similar tongue-in-cheek send up of the spy genre. The problem is it just doesn't fully commit to the concept. I can't help but feel this film had lots of little rewrites because it's disjointed on so many levels. I mean, what was the point of Lance being a high school kid? Apart from some lame trampolining sequences at the beginning of the film his age isn't touched upon for the rest of script. In fact, halfway through he sleeps with Vanity which makes me think in an earlier draft he wasn't such a young character.
The acting is really stiff but I've got to forgive everyone because even I'd have a hard time selling this script. Being from the UK I've no knowledge who John Stamos is but apparently he was a big teen idol in the 80s. It's kind of hard to gauge how well he and everyone else is acting because Gene Simmons goes so far over the top playing Ragnar. He manages to somehow make Tim Curry's Dr Frank-n-furter from The Rocky Horror Show seem low-key and subtle by comparison. KISS fans will not want to miss this film. Simmons is the main attraction, sticking out his trademark tongue at every opportunity. Ragnar also has a unique way of killing his/her enemies by stabbing them with a razor blade on his/her middle finger. It took me a while to realise that when all his henchmen were shouting at him to give his captured enemy "The Finger" it was a pun on swearing. My mind was thinking... um... something else.
The bottom line is that Never Too Young to Die is nothing less than a car crash of a movie. If you enjoy watching cheesy, incompetent and downright bizarre 80s movie then this one is for you.
Click here for RobotGEEK's review of the film
Click here for the hilarious opening credits song "Stargrove"