NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE ~ 1986, Gil Bettman
WELCOME TO HELL
Never Too Young Too Die came out in1986. It stars John Stamos, who plays Lance Stargrove, a college gymnast turned secret agent.
The movie also stars Vanity, who plays a secret agent named Danja (Worst name I’ve ever heard), and Gene Simmons, who plays Ragnar, a super villain and would-be world conquerer who has both sets of genitalia, and yes, he does at one point sing a song about this. Yeah, as if anything could stir a reaction out of you after reading the words “Starring John Stamos.” After that, nothing is shocking.
Actually, I have no idea how this even exists. I had been led to believe that we had, in place, numerous failsafes to prevent John Stamos movies from ever seeing the light of day. Clearly, no amount of preventative measures could have suppressed this hideous beast of a movie from muscling it’s way out of Hell’s sphincter and into our reality. Never Too Young To Die. There was nothing we could do to stop this. Brace yourselves:
THE PLOT~ When decorated super spy Drew Stargrove is killed in the line of duty while trying to stop Ragnar, an evil hermaphrodie, from tainting the water supply with toxic waste, his son, Lance Stargrove, is unknowingly thrust into a world of espionage, danger, and alarmingly blatant hommoeroticism. Seriously, in this film, literally every single actor on screen looks like they are just TEETERING on the verge of their first gay encounter. It’s unreal.
Never Too Young To Die is pretty damn bonkers. I’m beginning to realize that I’ve been desensitized to nonsense, but this one remains a special find, the sort of stupid movie we’ve always speculated might exist, but could never prove. Theoretical physicists and movie nerds alike have debated for years the possibility that John Stamos could withstand the strain of adding a third persona to his repertoire of classic characters, and now we know that Uncle Jesse and Satisfied Shampoo User are not the only two iconic figures in his Rogues Gallery. Make way for Lance Stargrove, brooding, whiney college student who cheats on all his tests and excels at nothing beyond motorcycle riding and gymnastics. Actually, if we’re being fair, Stamos does a decent job in this movie, when you consider that he’s been saddled with the unfortunate burden of being John Stamos. Honestly, there are very few actors who could have pulled a better performance out of this script, which I assume was written in blood and found onboard the Event Horizon, so maybe it’s best we didn’t waste the role on someone who wasn’t destined to slide through his adult life on Full House residuals and alimony checks from Rebecca Romijn. For this man, the role of Uncle Jesse was peaking. May God have mercy on his soul.
Gene Simmons, on the other hand, is successful to a degree that cannot be debated, so we’re sort of forced to assume he was blackmailed into this. It’s a shame, Simmons has had his integrity as an artist challenged many, many times over the years, and rightly so, but nothing is more damaging to myth of Gene Simmons; Rock God, than Never Too Young To Die. Nothing ever could be. Honestly, coming from someone who rocks all ten tracks of Love Gun on the regular, this thing is straight up traumatic. Simply put, anybody who still thinks that Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park is the greatest cinematic threat to the Kiss legacy hasn’t seen Never Too Young To Die. It would take millions of Detroit Rock Cities to undo the damage this celluloid shitshow hath dealt.
And with that, the Kiss Army promptly disbanded.
I also want to briefly talk about Cliff; Lance’s college room mate, side kick, and gadget guru. Cliff is a bizarre character. Firstly, he displays unfaltering devotion to Lance, which runs the gamut from helping him cheat his way through college, building neat little gizmos for him all the time, and even suiting up in some sort of tactical nerd gear and running off to rescue Lance before he even has reason to believe there is anything to rescue Lance from. He just doesn’t see him for a couple of days, so he loads up his highly unstable Fire Blazer (that’s what he calls his little rocket launcher thing he built…) and heads out, just to make sure Lance is alright. He appears to receive no compensation for his efforts beyond the companionship of Lance Stargrove, so there’s this weird Peppermint Patty/Marcie dynamic that seems suspicious. Secondly, Cliff dresses really, really bizarre. When we first meet him, his clothes are so painfully 80’s that he actually appears to be deformed. The next major style we see is his aforementioned Tactical Nerd Gear, which is complete with shinny motorcycle helmet, suspenders and neckerchief. His final costume is the exact outfit worn by the Brawny Man, so it is perhaps most evident through Cliff that the head of the wardrobe department on Never Too Young To Die had a pretty bad drug problem.
We all need a guy like Cliff in our lives/nightmares
From a technical standpoint, Never Too Young to Die gets a passing grade, but just barely. This is not a well made movie. I’d call it C- film making, and that’s just in regards to the technical craft. They actually do try to make this movie special, they have car chases, explosions, reasonably dangerous stunts, lots of extras and various, sometimes interesting locations, but even with all of that effort, Never Too Young To Die falls far, far short of the goal by failing to be dynamic or exciting, ever. Everything is on the flimsy end of adequate, and you really have to be calibrated for low budget movies to tolerate Never Too Young To Die. If you’re not, you don’t have a prayer of making through this thing.
The sound track might deserve a special shout out here. It’s all uber-chintzy, cheap sounding casio-pop, which is film-poison, especially to any post 1989 audience. In addition to a horrible, horrible song performed by Gene Simmons about how awesome it is to have both male and female sex organs, we also have the stirring “Stargrove’s Theme,” which sounds like it was recorded by your Aunt and her $30 Wal*Mart keyboard. The music in Never Too Young To Die sounds so much more bleak and hellish to me than even the foulest, most godless Black Metal Norway has to offer, and right this moment, “Stargrove’s Theme” is totally stuck in my head, so I kind of want to die.
All told; Never Too Young To Die is much more effective as a means of shaming all parties involved than it is as a movie. It’s basically one step above a Japander.com commercial, it’s insane, yes, but it could be a lot crazier. It’s much more potent as a permanent reminder that no matter how he may try to bury it beneath mystique, Gene Simmons is but a mere mortal, who sometimes does real, real stupid stuff, and no matter how beautiful his ex-wife may be, John Stamos can never escape the fact that he is John Stamos. This movie is more like a court transcript, an FBI wrap-sheet, or Exhibit A in a particularly embarrassing trial… It’s sort of like that part at the end of 300, where the only victory that Leonidas can score is slightly scratch the bad guy and prove to everyone that he isn’t some untouchable god. No matter how rich and privileged Gene Simmons may become, and no matter how pittiful, destitute and beaten down you are, the mere whisper of the name “Stargrove” will reveal his true form and leave him powerless. It’s like when Nancy tells Freddy she’s not afraid of him anymore at the end of Nightmare On Elm Street, it’s his kryptonite, and it proves that no matter what, he’s not better than us. That’s what this movie is for. Of course, in the case of John Stamos, his true form is John Stamos, so for him, things really cannot get any worse… This is kinda just kicking him when he’s down. Still fun, though!
P.S. I actually really love Kiss. This was hard for me.