Retro Review: ‘Never Too Young to Die’
I have made it no secret I love big dumb 80’s action flicks, and today I present one of the weirdest films in this category. Starring a young John Stamos, an old George Lazenby, V-era Robert Englund, and Gene Simmons as a camptastic hermaphrodite with Mad Max-esque henchmen is Never Too Young to Die. A heart warming tale of a teenager (played by Stamos who is clearly in his early 20’s) who is thrust into the spy life when his father is a secret agent who is killed while trying to stop the evil, Velvet Von Ragner. This flick was meant to kickstart a young Bond-esque franchise, which as you may know never came into existence (for good reason).
Every time you think this movie can not possibly reach another level of bizarre greatness it does just that with great gusto. John Stamos portrays Lance Stargrove (with a name like this you HAVE to be either a porn star or the lead character in a bad action flick), a gymnast who is oblivious to the fact that his father, played by George Lazenby is a spy. When his father is killed he leaves the MacGuffin for his son to find. Unfortunately the evil Velvet Von Ragner, played by Gene Simmons with nothing in his performance that could possibly be considered subtle or nuanced, is after this same MacGuffin. This is not just a battle to be fought with guns and fists (though there is plenty of both) but with technology. Aiding Ragner is a techie played by Robert Englund who has yet to evolve into the horror icon he is today. Luckily Stargrove has his roommate Cliff to build a rocket launching gun of some kind to help him out. Aiding the inexperienced Lance in his introduction to the world of being a spy is Danja Deering (played by Canadian singer/model Vanity), but she is mainly there to be eye candy for the audience and the love interest for the cocksure and confident hero.
Nothing in this movie seems as if it was made by competent filmmakers but it is incredibly entertaining because of it. Never too Young to Die features; bad writing, bad acting, bad scoring, bad cinematography, bad directing, and even bad film editing if you can believe it. If you don’t believe me on the editing, be sure to check out a sex scene where the shot alternates between Stamos and Vanity in super rapid succession, bound to give epileptic viewers seizures. Usually a bad action movie can be saved with fun action, and the action in this movie is fun in the worst possible way. Bad directing and bad film editing combine for some truly laughable sequences. It is hard to tell if those behind the scenes were incompetent or apathetic during the making of Not Too Young to Die. As far as the cast is concerned, you have John Stamos who never quite goes full “Stamos” and Gene Simmons who goes as completely overboard as possible and everyone else falls into this terrible middle ground.
While Never too Young to Die has faded into obscurity, it is slowly but surely building a cult following like so many other “so bad it’s good” kind of movies. As I watched this trainwreck I kept laughing hysterically with each new scene as it brought something new that i thought I would never see in a movie. Whether it is leather clad S&M henchmen or Stamos riding a dune buggy….er captured enemy vehicle into the sunset, Never Too Young to Die is gold of the unintentional comedy vein.