Some films really defy your ability to classify them. They seem to come from what feels like an alternate dimension of some sort and when you finally see them, you wonder not only how they got made, but why every film nerd in the world isn't talking about it. NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE opens like an outtake from the meeting of the P.A.G.A.N.s in DRAGNET. Same kind of locale and similar kinds of punks (though these toughs look more like rejects from a ROAD WARRIOR knockoff). Funny thing is, that this movie and out the year before DRAGNET - so could there be some influence? Who can say. But what can be said is that Gene Simmons plays one of the most off the wall villains ever here and he goes by the incredibly memorable name of Velvet Ragnar. The hermaphroditic Ragnar (Simmons decked out in a wig and women's clothes) has a sinister plan to poison the city's water supply. One problem - the computer disc that will assist in his scheme has been stolen and he'll do anything to get it back. Gene Simmons is absolutely unhinged in this role and spares not a bit of scenery in his commitment to the zaniness. Also - watch for a very nerdy Robert Englund playing Ragnar's tech guy assisting with the poisoning plan.
Lance Stargrove (John Stamos) is a college gymnast with an absentee dad. His pops (George Lazenby) has a decent excuse though, he works for the government. He's also James Bond - not in this movie, but Lazenby played the man himself in ON HER MAJESTY SECRET SERVICE (which is one of my favorites of the series). Lance's dad is killed and Lance is thrust into the adventure of a lifetime as he discovers what his dad did for a living and the people he was involved with (including lovely 80s lady Vanity). This ain't no regular old spy flick though. It's an out there bit of crazy town what-the-f*ckery that is honestly a bit difficult to describe as it is so odd and unexpected in parts. Lance has a roommate who is an inventor of sorts and ends up functioning very much as his "Q" - providing him with goofy gadgets and whatnot. Vanity is as sexy as ever here and there's even a very strange seduction scene involving a hose and an apple that is rather unforgettable. NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE also has one hell of a catchy theme song to boot. Suffice it to say that it is a hoot and recommended as a remarkably entertaining and quotable party movie for fans of wacky stuff. It's a true classic of its very own unique kind and the fact that it is now on Blu-ray is astonishing and delightful as it was only on VHS prior to this nice-looking Shout Factory disc.
One of the best movie podcasts out there - The Projection Booth - did an extensive episode on NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE, which includes a good interview with director Gil Bettman that sheds a bit of light on the story behind the movie. Listen to it here:
For another fun podcast on the film, check out Brian Salisbury and C. Robert Cargill's Junkfood Cinema episode on it here:
-An audio commentary with Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball.
-"VHS option" - this can be found at the far right of the disc's main menu. When you click on it, a blue screen pops up (in a 4x3 square frame) and there is that old "play" command pops up and there is a quick tracking adjustment that happens. What follows is a little intro done up in an old school VHS style and then the whole film plays out from a completely different, crappy VHS transfer - to simulate how most of us saw the film for the first time. Very neat little extra bonus!
Buy NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE on Blu--ray here: