Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days of '81 Horror: Strange Behavior (Michael Laughlin)

A curio that lives up to the adjective in its title, Strange Behavior is a New Zealand shot film, though set in an American Midwestern suburb, that combines the slasher genre craze of the late 1970s/early 1980s with a 50’s sci-fi B-movie structure and a slight comic edge. The resulting film doesn’t always meld together perfectly, and its large ambition is hampered by the small budget and relative inexperience of director Michael Laughlin, making his directing debut, but it’s usually interesting.

John Brady (Michael Murphy) is a widowed detective in a small college town who begins investigating the death of his son’s classmates, which leads him to a fantastical laboratory performing experiments on humans turning them into killing machines. Starting off rather slowly, the film begins to take some unique and unexpected turns as the plot thickens.

The script was written by director Laughlin and future Academy Award nominee Bill Condon. Condon who would spend a good decade and a half toiling in genre fare before eventually became an Oscar favorite with 1998’s Gods and Monsters, a biopic covering the life and death of eccentric Frankenstein director James Whale, which he followed up with the biopic Kinsey and the Broadway adaptation, Dreamgirls (he’s also directing the final Twilight films). I’m guessing Condon is responsible for some of Strange Behavior’s more off-kilter, and endearing, touches, such as the homoerotic nature of some of the killings (all the victims are male), mad scientist characters that recollect the heyday of Universal Horror (such as Bride of Frankenstein’s Dr. Pretorius, directed by Whale) and a house party that at one point busts out in a fully choreographed dance routine! Tangerine Dream, who also provided the soundtrack for another 1981 film, Michael Mann’s Thief, provides the dreamy, but not quite as memorable as some of the other’s score.

1 comment:

le0pard13 said...

Oooh... sounds very interesting. Thanks, Colonel.

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