Night of Something Strange
Dir. Jonathan Straiton (2016)
After a rousing bout of necrophilia, an STD that turns its sufferers into mutant zombies ravages the city when a group of teens take a beach vacation.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
It takes a certain amount of bad taste to be a B-horror director, and it takes even more to make one like this film. Literally opening with a necrophiliac hospital janitor, the film does not get any more high-class from there. For those looking for a fun, no holds barred gorefest where some unlikable teenagers receive their comeuppance, however, Night of Something Strange gives you everything you could ask for and more. It’s been a while since I’ve been left with my mouth open (that’s what she said,) but there were several moments in this film I could not believe that they had the guts to do.
The obnoxious teenagers at the center of the story are introduced succinctly by the main character’s (Christine) diary entry, listing each character’s name and a bit of their backstory to kick the story off. Because, ya know, every teenager introduces each of her friends and their traits in a random diary entry as if she’s at the beginning a Judy Blume book. Also, one of her classmates, who thankfully is not involved in the rest of the film, has to be at least 30 years old. Once the group runs into our necrophiliac janitor, things go batshit crazy, as expected.
Plus, he’s a real looker.
Don’t let the aforementioned necrophilia scene fool you: this movie is horribly fucking disgusting, and it’s so much fun. The acting is decent for the most part, though there are no future Oscar-winners here. The film is structured well, with a logical plot that clearly explains both the setup for each scene and the progression to the next. This may not sound like something that even needs discussing, but believe me when I tell you that many, many, many B-movies do not. It also has some truly outstanding special effects and makeup, with some gruesome kills and nasty zombies. Plus, what am I supposed to do with a movie that has a cameo by Brinke Stevens, not watch it?
There are plenty of nods to previous horror franchises, with character names like Jason, Freddy, Christine, and Carrie, and this is clearly made by folks who grew up on the same kind of horror that I did. There are more than a little effects and ideas borrowed from Troma’s gross-out horror oeuvre, and you’ll find yourself cringing in disgust even more than you’ll laugh, which is, I believe, exactly what the director was going for. It’s a teen horror-sex-grossout mashup, and for what it is it’s incredibly effective and delivers on all of its promises. It’s also got some genuinely creepy scenes, competently utilizing sound, score, and camera angles to deliver some eerie sights. Don’t worry, though: in some of the more creepy scenes, the film stops in the middle to give you a laugh to even things out. By the time the teens make it to the motel where things really kick off, the audience is left wondering what gory spectacle is going to make them want to look away from the screen next.
There are some seriously messed up scenes involving what amounts to sexual assault, but they’re more for shock value than anything else and aren’t what you expect going into the scene. The film really is as much teen sex comedy as it is anything else, but it wields its sex as a weapon with which to bludgeon its audience. Of course, if you didn’t get that after the opening necrophilia, you’re probably not the target audience for this film anyway. The writing of the film is fantastic for what it is, and some of the dialogue is incredibly well-written. The scene where Christine and Dirk, her new love interest, discuss their interests on the hood of a car is actually very realistic and endearing. Of course, it’s interrupted by her zombie BFF, because the film won’t let us feel that good about what we’re watching for too long. In a unique zombie twist that is completely fitting for this film, the zombies’ weak spots are their genitals.
Feeling cute, might shoot a zombie in the dick later, idk.
Of course, the simple story at the forefront about STD zombies, is not enough for this film. It’s got to go in a wildly different direction when you least expect it, proving that more of a good thing is better. I won’t spoil the surprise, but let’s just say things happen to get even crazier than STD zombies who want to fuck people while murdering them. The film is a wild-ass ride, and it’s criminally underseen (by people who would ever watch it in the first place.) It’s got the kind of punch that you’d get if the Cabin Fever leg-shaving scene had taken place during Porky’s. I keep going back and forth between wanting to show everyone this film and wanting to show absolutely nobody this film lest they question my taste and sanity. You know what? Fuck it. Watch this film is you like disgustingly problematic films like I do.
Who this movie is for: Horror fans with a strong stomach, Horror comedy fans with a juvenile sense of humor, People looking to crack open a cold one (I’m sorry)
Bottom line: Filled to the brim with disgusting shots and gross-out humor, this film plays as much like American Pie as it does a zombie film. There are plenty of scenes where the director is daring you to look away, but the gore is delightful and the makeup effects are way better than what you expect to see from films like this. This one won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I absolutely do not recommend it for folks who don’t like their horror a little more on the odious side. This isn’t one to watch with the kids, is what I’m saying. Of course, if you’re chomping at the bit to watch Night of Something Strange, you weren’t going to put it on with your kids in the room anyway. It’s not a bad movie, and it’s definitely worth a watch if it’s your kinda film.