Never Too Young to Die (1987)


Never Too Young to Die chronicles the wacky adventures of Lance Stargrove, a college student and talented hotshot gymnast. Lance is played by John Stamos, and this is the same year Full House first aired, so it’s classic Uncle Jesse Stamos, with the perfect, fluffy little mullet that bounces softly with every step he takes. After Stargrove probes into the details concerning his estranged father’s death, he finds himself embroiled in an intricate plot devised by the hermaphroditic super villain Velvet Von Ragnar (played by Gene Simmons, and in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, he does the tongue thing). Ragnar’s evil plans to poison the country’s water supply forever with toxic waste are somehow completely dependent on a computer disk, and Stargrove’s father, Stargrove Sr., was the last person to have had it. Now Lance and his bespectacled Asian sidekick (you know, the one with all the high-tech gadgets) must team up with his father’s “business partner,” a ridiculously attractive, ethnically ambiguous chick who can’t keep her shirt on (Vanity), in order to defeat Ragnar’s army of punk rock goons and save the world.

  • Ambition    8

The intent here was for Never Too Young to Die to be a classic 80s action movie, and it is. Every 80s action movie cliche you can think of is in this movie; the explosions, the submachine guns, the stunt driving, the criminal mastermind, the ridiculously attractive, ethnically ambiguous chick who can’t keep her shirt on, the insanely important computer file/password/disk… However, the whole hermaphroditic element of the story adds a unique and rather bizarre quality to it. The film tries to be a thrilling, risque battle of the sexes, but it really feels like Gene Simmons’ creepy fetish fantasy, starring Uncle Jesse. It’s plain weird and uncomfortable at times, which I don’t think is what the film makers were going for exactly.

  • Presentability    8

The theme is hermaphroditic thunderdome-style 80s biker gang. Pick up some manlady porn and an assortment of medieval weapons (maces, battle axes, gasoline torches). As for snacks, serve chewing gum (one of Asian sidekick’s little inventions was gum with a tracking and/or listening devise in it), some Perrier and a few apples (Stargrove conspicuously consumes these while watching Vanity strip down to a bikini, slather herself in tanning oil, writhe around in the sun and then hose herself off). And there is plenty of drinking game potential. It would probably be enough to drink every time anybody says “Stargrove.”

  • Sex/Violence    8

Again, the hermaphrodite thing earning this movie high points, especially in the final showdown between Ragnar and Stargrove where they make good use of some weird-looking stunt boobs. Obviously there is a pretty classic bad 80s sex scene, complete with repeated shots (they show her hit the bed SIX times), and just when you think he’s finally gonna stick it in her the camera pans up to the window and it’s over. Vanity’s costumes are predictably revealing. In every scene either her top gets torn, you can see through her top, or she’s just plumb not wearing a top. And that’s including the funeral scene.

As for violence, it was mostly standard gunshot wounds and explosions. Ragnar uses his razor-sharp fake nails to kill a few people, and of course there is the inevitable moment when Stargrove realizes that he can use his gymnastics skills as a weapon, which results in some silly-looking fight choreography.

  • Performance    6

Stamos and Vanity suck about as hard as one would expect, but Simmons is a bit over-the-top and worthy of a few extra points here. At times he seems to be improvising his lines (for instance, when he addresses his minions as “turdy revelers” and commands them to “….zzzooorgasm!”). It’s as if he’s been given free artistic license because he’s the biggest name in the movie. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be the least surprised to learn that making Ragnar a hermaphrodite was all Simmons’ idea. After all, by 1987 KISS had long abandoned the costumes and make-up. Maybe he just wanted to parade around in full drag, waggle his tongue and touch himself a little, and this was a convenient excuse.

  • Datability    9

The fashions, the hair, the actors, the music….all very 80s. I especially loved the overblown showcasing of 80s technology, with the all-important floppy disk (referred to repeatedly as the RAM-K throughout the film) and the not one but TWO extended close-ups of multi-function digital watches.

  • Script    7

It manages to be cliche and predictable in that really special, hilarious sort of way that will have you slapping your forehead with bad movie joy. Plus, there’s the fantastically lame Cool as Ice-style ending. 

“Fork over the RAM-K bitch, or we’ll tenderize your butt!”

“The name’s not scumbag, it’s Stargrove! LANCE Stargrove!!”

  • Relevance     2

There’s not much of a true moral for Never Too Young to Die. It sort of paints hermaphrodites in a negative light I suppose, so maybe the lesson is that people who are different are bad. Oh, and of course, believe in yourself and good triumphs over evil and so on.

  • Originality    5

Just in case it I haven’t said it enough, one of the main characters is a hermaphrodite.

  • Cinematography    5

At times it was shot like a music video, and at other times like an educational video on how to shoot a movie. As with countless other 80s movies, things kick off with a gymnastics montage, only this 80s gymnastics montage has John Stamos bouncing around on a trampoline, and that’s just funny.

  • Production Design    7

Simmons’ dragwear is flamboyant (if somewhat unflattering), and his foot soldiers’ punk rock apocalypse costumes and welded horse head motorcycles are surprisingly well designed.

The soundtrack is amazing. Stargrove has his own theme song, which gets played several times throughout the film. Sometimes they soften it up a little, like when he’s gazing at a photo of himself and his father, it’s all feathery synthesizer violin.  Sometimes it’s amped up, like when he’s kicking thunderdome goon ass and they throw in the whole synthesizer orchestra.

Also, bonus points for a clearly visible boom mic in one scene. Love that.

TOTAL:  65

or changing your hermaphroditic baby’s diaper and getting peed on by both sets of genitalia.

And now for your listening pleasure, here it is, the Stargrove theme(WARNING: this song will be stuck in your head for days):



~ by mgjk on January 20, 2010.

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