Movie Review: ‘Night Of Something Strange’ Is A Gross Out Tale Of Ribaldry

NightofSomethingStrange

It’s just another night at the morgue for our custodian, Cornelius,  until he feels the need to satisfy his carnal urges by way of an intimate encounter with a female corpse. But then again this may be par for the (inter) course when the morgue plays host to deceased female occupants. He may have thought that necrophilia would be the safest sex he could have, but it would result in his contracting one hellaciously nasty STD that would turn him into a zombie with an unslakable lust and desire to spread the contagion.

Around this time, a group of high school kids are just about to take off on a road trip to the beach over spring break. But not too long after they hit the road, an unexpected detour sidelines them at a seedy motel well off the beaten path. While most horny high schoolers may be looking to score during such a hiatus from their classes, these kids are destined to learn a hard lesson about the dangers of unprotected sex. They will also find out that there are more potential dangers in store for them than horny, crazed and aggressive, STD spreading zombies.

Jonathan Straiton directed this film from a script on which he collaborated with Mean Gene and Ron Bonk. What this trio have created story-wise, is a contemporary blend of splatter horror movies and raunchy late night comedies from the 80’s. It turns the zombie genre on its ear by changing the contagion into an STD (that’s sexually transmitted disease to you and me, Rusty). So instead of having a voracious appetite for brains or human flesh, these zombies/infected have an insatiable sexual appetite and will to spread their disease. The characters represented are not particularly original, representing pre-existing stereotypes within the horror and comedy genres. The same could be said for the premise, as we have all seen movies that featured teenagers taking ill fated road trips.

While the film does rely heavily on humor over scares, the comedic content is inconsistent. At times it’s cheesy or campy and at others it’s bawdy, but sometimes it gets just plain vulgar. Some gags start out funny but end up holding on entirely too long until they lose their intended jocularity. The comedy doesn’t necessarily need to be cerebral, but could at least stand to be witty rather than incessantly raunchy. There are even some “jokes” that are so sophomoric as to potentially being off putting to some viewers. The idea of simulated rape isn’t made funny or acceptable, even if or especially because it’s being perpetrated by sex crazed, blood splattered zombies.

As is the goal with splatter films, this one is soaked in a good amount of blood for its gore factor. But it also ups the ante by incorporating other bodily fluids into the mix as well. The practical effects and makeup, with what I imagine was also a little CGI mixed in, while serviceable were not overly impressive on screen.

Performance wise, I was underwhelmed by pretty much the entire cast. Nobody crafted a character that was worth becoming personally invested in or even remotely caring about. The teenage spring breakers were one dimensional  representations of character cliches. Despite the fact that the filmmakers try to set up some semblance of a final girl or a possible male hero, the actor and actress playing the respective characters fail to live up to them. I think Wayne W. Johnson’s portrayal of Cornelius, the necrophiliac janitor turned sex crazed zombie, could have been better if he were able to display a semblance of character,  à la “Bub” from Romero’s Day of the Dead. Frankly, I would like to have seen more scenes featuring Billy Garberina and Wes Reid as the characters of Woody and Eugene, as they seemed to  add a Tucker and Dale element to the film- albeit a slight one.

What it comes down to is an interesting premise that needed a well written story and strong character portrayals. What we got instead ended up leaning heavily on uninspired shock value and schlock humor. The idea of a sex driven zombie sexually assaulting its intended victim to spread the STD would make a hell of a lot more sense in a film that was strictly horror and not a horror comedy. I’m all for films that have shocking and raunchy content, especially when it’s balanced and well executed. So, yeah…it may have been a Night of Something Strange, but as far as I’m concerned it wasn’t a night of something especially entertaining. 4 / 10

 


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