Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
PUFF 2016: “NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE” (Film Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
If you’re offended easily, weak in the stomach, or adverse to the Troma / Frank Henenlotter brand of horror comedy, then there’s a good chance you won’t make it past the first five minutes of Jonathan Straiton’s NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE. However, if you can make it past the necrophilia, rape monsters, and explosive bodily fluids, NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is one hell of a crowd-pleasing horror comedy, filled with memorable one-liners and insane practical FX. And even despite the crude, vulgar, and perverse turns that NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE brings to the table, there’s a genuine earnestness behind the narrative that thankfully keeps the film from falling into SCARY MOVIE territory.
NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE follows a group of high schoolers who stop into a middle-of-nowhere motel on the way to their beach hot-spot destination. However, unbeknownst to them, a night janitor at a local morgue has contracted an STD that turns all infected into bloodthirsty undead rapists, leaving a trail of carnage leading up to the motel. Now, these unwitting teens are forced to square off against these depraved maniacs and each other as they try to survive the night and stop the infection in its tracks.
If you’re a fan of horror comedy, NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is equal parts splatstick, gross-out sex comedy, and offensive shockfest, but above all, the film is very funny. From the visual gags to the instantly quotable one-liners, NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is extremely fun and hilarious if it’s your brand of humor. Furthermore, when the humor bleeds (literally or figuratively) into the FX side of the film, NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE offers up some jaw-dropping anatomical creations that horror fans have certainly not seen before. But perhaps most importantly, NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE understands its boundaries when it comes to its subject matter, and while the humor is paramount to the narrative, the film’s several rape scenes are certainly not played for laughs, nor are they as visceral as, say, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE; they’re almost incidental in nature, especially once the film takes a firm turn into monster movie territory.
NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE also works in part to its crew, who really treat the film as a labor of love despite its absurd action. Jonathan Straiton’s direction is solid, making the most of his limited budget while Colby Flinchum delivers top-tier FX work that one rarely finds in the genre in this day and age. Meanwhile, the score from Paul Amos perfectly fits the film’s B-movie atmosphere, and Rex Femscared’s cinematography does the genre-friendly moments justice, especially given the independent production value of the film.
NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE delivers some really fun performances as well, even if they are as over-the-top as the script itself, penned by Straiton, Ron Bonk, and Mean Gene. Rebecca C. Kasek does well in the role of the generic lead protagonist, anchoring the film and injecting it with emotional resonance alongside Trey Harrison, whose Dirk gets some more comical moments via unwieldy bravado. Meanwhile, Michael Merchant, Toni Ann Gambale, Nicola Fiore, Tarrance Taylor, Al Lawler and John Walsh fill out the film’s adept ensemble, each nailing their moments of horror and comedy with gusto. But special praise should be given to Wayne W. Johnson, Kirk LaSalle, Janet Mayson, and Kera O’Bryon as the film’s creeps, delivering largely tongue-in-cheek physical performances.
Overall, while the subject matter will absolutely be divisive, NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is a twisted treat for all those who can ride it out to its bloody end. Filled with strong special effects, hilarious one-liners, and shocking moments that will either make you gag or guffaw, NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE is the kind of sleazy independent rollercoaster that comes too few and far between among contemporary fright fare. And, if possible, horror fans should definitely try to catch NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE on the big screen, as this film is best experienced with a crowd that is sure to laugh, cheer, and gasp in equal measure.