Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Strange Behavior

Strange Behavior (Dead Kids) Directed by Michael Laughlin. Starring Dan Shor (1981).
   Dan Shor is one of those lesser known character actors that people have seen, but don't remember were from. He played Ram in Tron, the village idiot who only wants to "Shake Hands with Gonga The Gorilla" in Wiseblood and later Billy The Kid in Bill & Ted's Excellant Adventure. He's most likely to be interviewed about his cult movie career in Shock Cinema and does an excellant job as the goofy, but likeable victim Pete Brady. His father played by Michael Murphy (of Phase IV and Cloak & Dagger) is connected to Dr. LeSange (Arthur Dignam) a mad scientist with an experimental lab that uses mind control on broke college kids. The Doctor is projected on a monitor (similar to Brian Oblivion in VideoDrome) and is allegedly dead, but still seems to communicate beyond the grave.
1980's Dharma Initiative
  There are alot of character actors in Strange Behavior, like Dey Young (Kate Rambo from Rocknroll High School), Scott Brady (Lawrence Tierney's brother), Louise Fletcher (Nurse Ratched) and Jimmy Olsen from Superman (Marc Mclure) in a Tor Johnson mask armed with a butcher knife.
   Ollie (Mcclure) convinces Pete that turning himself into a human guinea pig, equals fast cash. Pete desperately wants to pay for this Ivy League school that accepted him, so he takes this stupid approach.
   Fiona Lewis (who I first read about in Fangoria in an interview for this film) is a sexy nurse armed with a giant needle ready to stick in your eye socket. The flirty nurse, suckers future unsuspecting programmed killers into the Dr.'s office. The first example of mind control is conducted on a chicken wearing a robot helmet (things that seem ridiculous at first, soon turn lethal).
eye torture gives me the giggles
   Ollie and Pete go to a Halloween kegger, as kids dressed like Pippi Longstocking and Batman & Robin do synchronized dancing to Lou Christie's "Lightning Strikes" (a song I normally find horrendous, but it works here)! There's some semi-punk tunes to pad out the soundtrack by The Pop Mechanix and The Birthday Party, also Tangerine Dream does the ominous and yet somehow cornball score.
Tor want guts instead of Swedish Meatballs tonight
   The party soon turns deadly as Jimmy Olsen puts on a Tor Johnson mask and repeatedly stabs a fat guy in the neck!
   The contrast from goofy to psychotic caught me off guard. Later on, when any of these kids attack they have no recollection of any wrong doing, making them victims. Strangely enough, towards the end, none of them are ever prosecuted.
   Dey Young (Kate Rambo) the secretary at the corrupt lab ends up going out with Pete, she enjoys liver and puts out on the first date.
   Scott Brady (Lawrence Tierney's real life brother) plays a homicide detective adding a third to the two person police station (that's reminiscent of the same one in JAWS). Everyone in this suburb of Illinois (which was actually filmed in New Zealand and this film is often categorized as Ozploitation) is counting on John Brady (Michael Murphy) to solve these random slayings. It's a high pressure situation that personally involves him and his deceased wife. The first time I saw Michael Murphy was in Cloak and Dagger as the guy trying to obliterate Henry Thomas' kneecaps with a machine gun over an Atari cartridge, so I know he's not fucking around!
Gimme my Cloak and Dagger tape or suffer
  Random kids show up periodically and stab their parents and it's effectively shocking, but the "strange behavior" is mainly centered around The Brady's (I realize how awkward that sounds, anyone seen Cousin Oliver? or Alice the maid)!
   So, don't expect a horde of mindless zombie kids to show up to seek revenge on the lab. Pete is strapped to a chair and has his eye socket stuck with a giant needle by the nurse. The first sign that the drug has taken effect, happens at Steak & Shake (thankfully he doesn't eat there)! The conspiracy starts to totally unravel as Fiona Lewis and Dr. Lesange pit son against father in a final showdown. Strangest of all, the film somehow ends on a positive note! Screenwriter Bill Condon went onto write big budget projects (like Dream Girls and Gods & Monsters), but don't let that discourage you from seeing this film, it's an underrated classic! The original plan for Condon and Laughlin was to create a trilogy, but Strange Invaders (1983) was so viciously panned that they aborted the project all together! This film has a certain quality of camp and seriousness that makes it seem more vital than it should be for a first effort. It's available to stream via Fandor.com
I require B-12 and some orange slices

Tor like orange slices



  1. Yeah I've seen it 5 times and it was even on tcm underground one night. I thing the box cover should have jimmy olsen in a tor johnson mask stabbing people


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...