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Never Too Young To Die

Never Too Young To Die

1986, Dir. Gil Bettman

John Stamos, Gene Simmons, Vanity


"Like, a permanent dead, y'know?!"

Oof. Ouch. Argh. How should I begin? Well, here goes. "Never Too Young To Die" is a 1986 action / adventure flick. I had a hunch before I watched it that it may be dangerous, so I conducted a little experiment. I placed a gerbil in its cage in front of the TV and forced it to watch as I observed from a safe distance. Here's what my notes looked like:

- 6 mins, 37 sec: Gerbil develops slight facial tic.

- 9 mins, 21 sec: Tic has developed into full body spasming.

- 17 mins, 46 sec: Bleeding from ears. Internal hemmorhaging?

- 25 mins, 58 sec: Claws own eyes out.

- 29 mins, 12 sec: Spontaneous combustion.

So, hoping that I had more fortitude that the average gerbil, I sunk my teeth in to "Never Too Young To Die". NOTE: For all you animal rights people, I was only kidding about the gerbil. I used one of the neighborhood kids.

I got my hunch that this film could be dangerous from the video box, the only one of its kind to reduce me to hysterics. On the front cover we get our hero and heroine accompanied by the following tagline: Vanity - the new breed of temptress!! ______ - the new breed of hero. Now, I mentioned this was an action flick of mid '80's vintage, yes? So who would you expect the hero to be? Arnie? Van Damme? Sly? Jeff Speakman even? Nope.

Yep, Uncle Mullet himself, John Stamos. But it gets better. His adversary, Velvet Von Ragner, is a hermaphrodite played by ...

I don't know what the producers of this film had to blackmail Gene into this role, but it must've been huge. And as for the critical praise that is displayed on video boxes, this film beats "King Kong vs. Godzilla" in the Damning With Faint Praise category. "KK vs Big G" boasts that Leonard Maltin thought that "the special effects were above average." The best that NTYTD could do was "explosions, one hundred on one bazooka battles, and chases". And there weren't even any bazookas in the damn movie.

So on to the video itself. The film is preceded by a trailer for a film called "What Comes Around", described as "One man's struggle for dignity". He didn't get it in this film, that's for sure. Now, headfirst into schlock. Ragner addresses his Mad Maxesque minions, and menaces a punkette who has leaked an important disk to the good guys. So, Ragner gives her the finger. Which is of course a long metal blade on his middle finger. Cut to a men's college where (you've gotta be kidding me) Lance Stargrove (Stamos) is doing gymnastics. Actually, the entire opening credits are done to men doing gymnastics with the fruity theme music. "Stargrove, flying higher that you've ever flown..." Little Bobby, I mean, the gerbil, didn't like the music much and tried to wedge himself into the corner of his cage. Then we meet Lance's roommate Cliff, who is the typical '80's stereotype of the Asian technical genius. Then we learn of Lance's strained relationship with his Dad. Lance's gymnastics meet on Parent's Day coincides with a government spy mission led by Lance's Dad, who is a Government "One Man Army" type. During the mission a traitor is thwarted and escapes, and the Elder Stargrove's actions mirror those of Lance. When Dad is eventually killed by Ragner, Lance falls from the bar. It's too bad that Lance's Dad kicks off so early, because he uncorked some great lines during the raid. When the alarm goes off and red lights start flashing, Stargrove turns to his partner and says; "I think we're having a disco nightmare!' When being questioned by Ragner, he asks him; "What kind of designer drugs are you on?" He also uses a secret weapon when Ragner's men attack: a bulletproof umbrella . Goverment issue? Anyway, Ragner kills him. At the funeral we see a mysterious woman who Lance is told is Danja, one of his father's associates. Lance then recieves the deed to his father's farm, bequeathed to him in the will.

So now at the farm, Danja is tending to her horse when an enormous guy with a ridiculous haircut (come to think of it, some of these bad guys remind me of Fist of the North Star ) attacks her, only to have his face shoved in a pile of horse shit. Another bad guy jumps in through a window, and they turn the tables on Danja. Big guy grabs a gun and lets fly with yet another great line; "Fork over some Ram K bitch, or we'll tenderize your butt!" Ram K being the disk, of course. Lance arrives, Danja escapes and the barn blows up. Lance and Danja go to his father's house where he demands to know what's going on. More great dialogue, this time from Lance: "People are trying to kill you! And me! Like, a permanent dead, y'know?!"

That night, Danja goes to a motorcycle club called the Incinerator, where Ragner does a drag queen act (oh yeah, i forgot, at this point the gerbil reconstituted itself just so it could explode) in a headdress that would make Cher shudder. Lance tails her there and they discuss his father. According to Lance; "He screwed everything he touched. My mother, me, and obviously you." HOLD ON!!!! "My mother, ME, and obviously you." Well now, this explains everything, doesn't it! Or does it? Perhaps a history of child abuse led to Lance's distance from his father. Or maybe Lance is playing upon the dual meaning of the word "screwed"? Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like a finely crafted script. Danja tells Lance that she suspects Ragner of killing his Dad., then leaves. Lance goes to Ragner's dressing room after the performance to get an autograph and plant a microphone in the room. Ragnar recognizes him as a Stargrove, but Lance doesn't let on. Ragner easily finds the mic and flushes it. Lance avoids being blown up when a redneck mocks Lance's bike and tries to start it.

Lance then borrows Cliff's bike ("Thanks, you'll never see it again.") and a chase scene ensues, ending in Danja being kidnapped and Lance being brought to his father's house by two thugs. They kick the shit out of him until he snaps and throws them out the window. Then he stumbles upon a secret passageway to his Dad's study, where he learns of Daddy's true career. Cliff shows up in an incredibly flamboyant outfit with a flamethrower. He tells Lance that his Dad sent the disk to Lance in a care package. Cut to two thugs (I'm trying to get through this as quickly as possible) who have Danja chained to a slab in an incinerator, about to burn if she doesn't tell them where the disk is. Lance and Cliff, who somehow know exactly where to go, rescue her. Apparently iron fetters don't get hot in an incinerator. So now Lance, Cliff, and Danja meet with the top good guys: an old man with a cane, and Carruthers, who we recognize as the traitor from earlier. Carruthers suggests using Danja and Lance as bait in a trap for Ragner. They stick them back in Lance's father's house where Danja seduces Lance. Note to guys - Perrier water and fruit are not sufficient distraction from a striptease involving a hose. Carruthers replaces Lance and Danja with look - alikes and takes them off in a helicopter, where he reveals himself to be Ragner in disguise.

At the hideout, Lance and Danja are brought out before Ragner. Lance fights the big guy, and suddenly the hideout is under seige by the good guys. Ragner escapes to the dam where the poison is to be released into the water. He uses the disk in a computer in a briefcase to start the program. Lance arrives, they fight, and he orders Ragner to stop the device. Ragner replies; "Once it's programmed it can't be deprogrammed, don't you read spy novels?" My body began emergency shutdown at that line. They continue to fight, and Ragner is about to knock Lance off of the dam when Lance stops him by saying; "Wait. I ... I just wanted to tell you ... how beautiful you are." Ragner is flattered and out comes the famous tongue ... Emergency shutdown complete. When I came to, Lance, Cliff, and Danja were riding off into the sunset, so I guess the good guys won. The merciful end.

IN CLOSING: Jesus wept. Never have I encountered such a poor script. This is definitely a product of the 80's, although a slightly twisted one. If you see it on the shelves of your local video store, shoot the proprietor.