Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival Movie Review: NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (2016)

Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the horror/comedy NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE by writer/director Jonathan Straiton.  To best sum up the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot description:

Teenage friends out for beach week get unexpectedly detoured to an isolated motel where a deadly STD virus now runs rampant, turning those infected into the living dead.

Obviously, given that plot description, it can be fairly quickly surmised that sex forms a massive portion of this feature’s backbone.  As such, the audience can expect to see nudity, necrophilia, rape, and plenty of gross out humor.  I realize that last one sort of clashes with the other three, but this film barely takes itself seriously and skews more towards the gross out horror/comedies of the eighties.  The best way for one to tell whether or not they will have the stomach to sit through this is by watching the scenes preceding the title screen.  Those who have no trouble with this opening sequence will probably be fine with what happens next, while those who find it uncomfortable or too gross may want to sit this one out.

For those who are sticking around, on to the review!

As noted above, this movie draws a lot of inspiration from the practical effects driven, bonkers gore-fests of the eighties.  I was impressed that they were able to perfectly nail the feel of this specific genre while never going so far as to wink at the audience.  By playing it straight like this, the gross out body comedy never undermines the creeping horror of the piece which makes it all the more effective.

The horror comes in the form of the re-animated dead who bear a striking resemblance to the deadites of EVIL DEAD fame.  These creatures need to have sex to spread their disease which is a horrific inversion of the horny teen’s desires to get laid on their Spring break.  While this is not a novel twist on the concept, it works well here because the monsters’ psycho-sexual nature lends itself to many funny and disgusting situations.  I will grant that a lot of the creep factor relies upon people being uncomfortable with sex (rarely have I seen so much undead genitalia in a picture) =, but I never felt it to be out of place given its outrageous portrayal.

Speaking of being over the top, the acting was just as exaggerated as the rest of the feature. That is to say, the actors were certainly not showing any restraint, but they never crossed over into being so outrageous as to be aggravating.  In fact, a few of the cast members walked the line so well that not only did I find their performances complimentary to the tone; I also just genuinely enjoyed their work.

I also got a kick out of the many different effects used within this movie whether it be the makeup to show off the level of decay to the more complex portrayal of vagina dentata.  By keeping this CGI free, it made some of the disgusting moments even grosser just because there was a real-world feel to all the slime and bodily fluids.  The use of as many practical effects as possible only further showed how much love and attention was put into making sure the tone of this picture perfectly matched the eighties features to which it was paying tribute.

All in all, the use of practical effects alone will make this a must see for those who crave the slimy, viscous feel of the old school eighties monster features.  Fans of NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1986) or RE-ANIMATOR (1985) will enjoy this blood walk down memory lane.  The fact that it managed to stand on its own two feet while still paying homage to many of the greats, only provides further reason for dedicated horror fans to give this a watch.

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