Neon Nights (1981)
Jack Teague (as Jake Teague)
Oh, hell yes! You know, lately it seemed like every movie I was putting on seemed to be a big disappointment. I hadn't read anything about Neon Nights before watching it, so when it started up my expectations were nil. The first thing I was struck by was the quality of the transfer. Really, if it weren't for the fact that within the first few minutes Jamie Gillis is fisting Linda Vale, the quality of the picture, camera work, and music could easily convince you that you were watching a mainstream movie from the early '80s. The way the scene was cut between what was going on in the master bedroom and teenage daughter Sandy's (Lysa Thatcher) room got me more interested, and by the time the title card hit the screen, I was sold.
Giving a plot synopsis would actually be a disservice considering the way Neon Nights plays out, so I'm going to keep that part as vague as possible. Sandy is seduced (or seduces, perhaps) her mother's boyfriend Robert (Jamie Gillis). Predictably, her mother catches them in a compromising situation, so Sandy decides to escape her mothers house and run off to New York to try to find her identical twin sister who'd run away earlier. Along the way, she's given a ride by a magician (played with twisted glee by Jack Teague) who takes her to the motel room he shares with Sweet Marie (Jody Maxwell), presumably his magician's assistant. She finally gets to New York, and to the home of her sister's employer (Veronica Hart), but not before being offered a bunch of balloons in a park by Lilah (Arcadia Lake).... I was going to say that it makes more sense when you see it, but, really, it doesn't. Finally, there's a twist at the end throwing much of what happened before into question that was intriguing enough to ensure that, eventually, I'll watch Neon Nights again.
Neon Nights was absolutely bonkers in the best possible way. Like I mentioned before, the camera work was excellent, the shots were typically interesting and well-considered (there was maybe a slight over-reliance on the "reflection in a mirror" angle, but then they are very thematically appropriate), the music was spot on and contributed to the overall ominous and surreal tone of the film, and the performances were all top notch. A
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