Home Video Hovel: Never Too Young to Die, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi

Never Too Young to Die pits John Stamos and Vanity against Gene Simmons in a tale of action, lust, and revenge. This is both as bland and entertaining as you might suspect for a low-budget 1980s actioner. Actors playing the heroes take this nonsense without a drop of with, while actors playing the villains camp it up to the rafters. If you enjoy a bit of nonsense with your explosions, Never Too Young to Die fits the bill as a fun addition to your home video library; a droll audio commentary by playwright Russell Dyball seals the deal.

While Drew Stargrove (George Lazenby) is a secret agent on a mission, his son Lance Stargrove (John Stamos) is prepping for a gymnastics competition. After Drew’s mission is cut short by hermaphroditic baddie Velvet Von Ragner (Simmons), Lance has to pick up where his father left off in a quest to find a valuable computer diskette. Along for the ride are his tech-savvy friend Cliff (Peter Kwong) and the mysterious vixen Danja Deering (Vanity). Along the way, we get a car chase, a few shoot-outs, and a climactic showdown where a long fingernail means the difference between life and death.

Never Too Young to Die could have been forgettable if not for the contrasting acting styles of the cast; heroes are played straight while the villains camp it up to the rafters. Gene Simmons in particular appears to be having the time of his life playing Velvet Von Ragner as a screeching drag queen who even gets a musical number. Many of the bad guys have a punk Mad Max aesthetic, which makes their antics seem ever the more cartoonish than the bland good guys. Director Gil Bettman makes his feature debut here and he keeps things moving at a fast clip. We get a fun chase scene combining elements of Ben-Hur and Mad Max and a silly love scene where Stamos chows down on two pieces of fruit before deflowering Vanity. What’s not to like?

This Blu-ray/DVD combo pack release of Never Too Young to Die from Shout! Factory comes with a pair of extras. One is a vintage TV spot in poor quality (this flick apparently never even had a theatrical trailer), and the other is an excellent audio commentary from Russell Dyball. Dyball goes to insane lengths here, commenting on everything from John Stamos’ digital watch to the history of Gene Simmons’ costume in a pivotal scene. We get a great video transfer and a clear, if unremarkable, audio transfer. Never Too Young to Die is recommended if the phrase “cult 1980s action” makes your ears perk up.

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