Stream This? is a feature devoted to exploring and reviewing some of the lesser known and often-times weirder films that can be found on various streaming services. Today, Roy Buckingham examines the 1986 spy film Never Too Young To Die.
Were you looking forward to Daniel Craig’s last turn as James Bond in No Time To Die, before we all got shut-in by the pandemic? Well, have I got just the substitute for you! I mean, it may not be as exciting as a high-tech, big-budget Bond film, but it has George Lazenby! And he played James Bond! Once!
The film is called Never Too Young To Die. It stars John “I Like Oikos Yogurt” Stamos as a college student whose father (played by Lazenby) suddenly dies in an accident. And by accident, I mean as a super-spy trying to stop an evil villain from poisoning the Los Angeles water supply. And by evil villain, I mean KISS’ Gene Simmons as a lingerie-wearing intersex lovechild of Dr Frank-N-Furter and Cher. Singer turned actress (a term used VERY loosely) Vanity is also thrown into the mix, because why not?
It’s the weirdest variation of Chinatown one might ever witness.
Given the concept and the talent(?) involved, I had hoped for an over-the-top 80’s slop bucket of fun. Instead, I got a half-full bucket of slop that seemed to want to be a great big campy mess, only to give us a whisper kiss of it. Still, this does fall into that category of “you have to see it to believe it” for the Gene Simmons aspect alone.
If that was not enough, we also have Big Trouble in Little China‘s Peter Kwong as Stamos’ college roommate, who suddenly becomes his Q to his Bond. Complete with chewing gum that has a microchip walkie-talkie device in it, that has to be chewed to operate. Yeah, that makes sense, I guess. If that was not enough, we also have a pre-Renegade Branscombe Richard as a wannabe Ruffio, a cast of extras that are comprised of a mix of Road Warriors and rejects from the Billy Idol “Dancing with Myself” video, and Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund as the mastermind behind the water poisoning.
You would think with all that this movie would be on the same level as Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Room or even Cats. Alas, it does not quite get to that level of camp, and that is honestly disappointing. A few factors prevent it from achieving cheesy goodness.
First, since this is 1986, the homophobic slurs flow hard and fast from the lips of our characters concerning the villain’s sexuality. Yes, it is a product of its’ time, but it is still off putting and uncomfortable. The weak script is another factor. A lots of half-baked ideas were worked into the film and it doesn’t know if it wants to be a serious action spy thriller or a satire of one, leaving the movie a mess tonally. Finally, whoever edited this film must have been starting out in the field, as it has so many jump cuts that you will have whiplash by the end of the film.
Still, it is worth checking out just to see the spectacle that is Gene Simmons. He seems to be the only one truly committed to this film, diving into his role and all of its’ campy glory. If only the rest of the cast would have done the same, Never Too Young To Die might have been a must see cult film rather than a mildly amusing curiosity.