Strange Behavior (1981)
Director: Michael Laughlin
Where to get it: Synapse Films
In the peaceful town of Galesburg, Illinois, a brutal serial killer targets the local teenagers. As the bodies pile up, Sheriff John Brady (Michael Murphy) suspects the killer is connected with the high school’s Psychology department. There is something sinister about the school “research” program on behavioral control and Brady is determined to uncover the truth. But he better find the answers fast before his own son (Dan Shor) gets drawn into the strange experiments himself! Co-Written by Oscar Winner Bill Condon, STRANGE BEHAVIOR is a frighteningly gory homage to 50’s “pulp” horror films.
This is a film that came out in the year 1981. And rest a sure if there was a year for horror films it was 1981. And I could see how it could have been a little lost in the fold back then. Now, while seeing it for the first time, I can see where this film not only used some pretty famous influences but may have became one it’s self for films down the road. I can see with the camera work that Halloween and director Dario Argento had to be things that director Michael Laughlin enjoyed. And when you see the masked killer in this film running around slashing you can see where Wes Craven may have been influenced years later with his classic, Scream. So while it is slow at times, you do have things worth remembering and talking about here.
The only real negative about this film (and it’s opinion only, some may not mind) is the pace and the abrupt ending. When this movie wraps you wait for another foot to drop and it never does. That leads to it coming across just a bit awkward. But like I said, some may still love that. I did dig some of the films scenes that make you squirm, like scenes involving an eye. I also think it builds up some great tense moments from time to time. And that along with a couple of cool twists make the film really pickup and get you interested during it’s last portion. It’s here that the film becomes much more clever than just your average run of the mil horror films of the 80s. I wouldn’t call it a top 10 film of it’s time, but it for sure worth a watch. And I can see some giving it a solid 7 or more.