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Jonathan Straiton’s Night of Something Strange is an apropos title for this outrageous horror film that appears to be out to offend everyone or just out to entertain the audiences that miss the bad ol’ days of John Waters, only with slightly better production values. Its opening night did not go well with more than half the audience walking out, and some women patrons cursing as they left the theater. But a combination of the word getting out, and the horror geeks arriving in droves the next day, delivered the audience that Straiton’s film needed.
Night of Something Strange has a simple premise; a zombie-like STD wreaks havoc in an out-of-the-way motel during spring break, and only the strong and resilient will survive. At least that’s what one would think. But…nah. Potential heroes, both male and female, get put through the meat grinder and spat out in the most gruesome manner. Hell, the first ten minutes has necrophilia, rape and castration all played for laughs! And Saturday’s audience ate it up with a fervor. Monster penises, teeth baring vaginas, bloody prophylactics, wet farts, and eaten used tampons litter the screen in this amalgamation of soft-porn horror that garners giggles from the right audience.
This is a “dare you” film. Kids will be daring their friends to watch without flinching or losing their lunch. Straiton’s film could easily be described as misogynistic, homophobic, juvenile, outright offensive and repulsive, but it could also develop an unusual cult following for those that revel in this kind of side show. The director claims to have been influenced by Fred Dekker’s Night of the Creeps, the 1988 remake ofThe Blob and the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and one can see the influences. But Straiton and company also wanted to go for broke with the outrageous factor, and found the whole affair to be just a fun jaunt, without the intention of hurting anybody.
For a low budget film, the effects team is to be commended. In fact, so are the actors that went way above and beyond to endure the amount of blood, vomit, and humility required of them. On the other hand, the make-up gets more laughs than gasps. This competition film struck such a chord with its core audience that it led to winning Best Horror Film. Straiton and his film came out like Rocky, swinging away, and eventually winning the dark hearts of a great many. It may behoove the distributor to hand out vomit bags as a precaution, a la the great William Castle. But then perhaps it would be more of a service than a publicity stunt.
Either way, Night of Something Strange is like the child that acts bad just for any kind of attention. With its stock characters, including a pair of backwoods hillbillies, a slutty cheerleader, a sexually suppressed jock and an overweight sad sack teen, Jonathan Straiton has either delivered high camp in the first order or the decline of western civilization with a head-banging score.