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Strange Behavior
Strange Behavior
Actors: Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Dan Shor, Fiona Lewis, Arthur Dignam
Director: Michael Laughlin
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
R     2003     1hr 27min

It's a quiet, peaceful town where nothing ever happens?until a brutal serial killer begins a terrifying campaign targeting local teens. The killer's signature is the horrible mutilation of the victims. As fear mounts, la...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Dan Shor, Fiona Lewis, Arthur Dignam
Director: Michael Laughlin
Creators: Michael Laughlin, Antony I. Ginnane, Bill Condon, David Hemmings, John Barnett, John Daly
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
DVD Release Date: 05/13/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/1981
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1981
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 27min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

"The dead don't come back and take revenge."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 10/19/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I've never been to historic Galesburg, Illinois, but it seems like a interesting place, from what I've heard...there's a railroad museum, a Carl Sandberg historical site, the Galesburg Civic Art Center, the historic Orpheum Theater, the Stockdale Soldier Citizen Museum, a chocolate festival, the historic tram tour, and interesting aspect, though, is I find nary a mention of the events depicted in this film, Strange Behavior (1981) aka Dead Kids, in any of the tourism literature, but then again, I suppose serial killings aren't something one would generally promote when trying to draw in visitors (and their dough). Co-written by Michael Laughlin (Strange Invaders, Town & Country) and Bill Condon (Strange Invaders, Gods and Monsters, Kinsey), and directed by Laughlin, the film features Michael Murphy (Count Yorga, Vampire, Batman Returns), Dan Shor (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure), and Fiona Lewis (Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Tintorera). Also appearing is Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Cheap Detective), Arthur Dignam (The Devil's Playground), Dey Young (Rock 'n' Roll High School), Charles Lane (The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Gnome-Mobile), Marc `Jimmy Olsen' McClure (Superman, Back to the Future), and Scott Brady (The Mighty Gorga, The Cycle Savages), who was once offered the role of Archie Bunker on the television show "All in the Family", but turned it down...

The film, set in Galesburg, Illinois, wastes little time as, within the first five minutes, someone dies from a serious cases of puncturitis (i.e. stabbed with a knife one too many times)...and from there we meet aspiring college student Pete Brady and his father John, who happens to be the sheriff in the small town. Pete wants to go to the local college, but his father wants him to pick an out of state school for the purpose of broadening his horizons, but that's not the main reason...seems there was some unpleasantness at the local college involving strange experiments facilitated by a now deceased scientist named Dr. Le Sange. Pete's determined to attend the local college, but needs some dough for registration fees, to which his friend Oliver (McClure) turns him on to a gig within the college psychology department, run by Ms. Parkinson (Lewis). That's right, Pete is now a guinea pig, participating in some sort of behavioral modification experiments, which include, among other things, taking a `smart' drug and getting a six inch needle in the eyeball (ouch!). As Pete puts the moves on Caroline (Young), a student/receptionist at the school lab (who smokes like a chimney), his father is struggling to make sense of the recent spate of murders, ones which appear to be serial killings, but not necessarily performed by the same loony tune. John, seeing he's in over his head, calls Chicago for help, and homicide detective Shea (Brady), bad comb over and all, makes the scene...just as John's girlfriend Barbara (Fletcher) dumps a heaping, steaming load of exposition in our laps, things really begin to pick up as Galesburg's top cop thinks he knows the score, and Pete begins exhibiting, yep, you guessed it, strange behavior.

Despite its weaknesses, I enjoyed this film and thought it was pretty well done, especially considering it was a first effort for both Michael Laughlin and Bill Condon, whose next project would be Strange Invaders (1983), a decently creepy, underrated science fiction film. The cast was certainly professional, except for the guy playing the coroner...that guy was just plain awful. I like Fiona Lewis as I think she's really easy on the eyes, but I wasn't sure what was going on with that retro hairstyle she was sporting...still, it didn't detract my desire to be one of her test subjects, although the aspect of having to get a giant needle stuck in my eyeball did...slightly. The movie features some well-done suspense, but veers off into odd, uncharted waters at times, particularly the choreographed dance sequence, to the tune of Lou Christie's "Lighting Strikes", during the costume party. Also, the storyline does drag in a number of spots, something which probably could have been mitigated had the makers lopped off about ten or fifteen minutes of the running time. Also, it felt like there were just a few too many characters running around, so what happens is not enough focus is dedicated towards those characters that should have been predominate in the actual storyline, but, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. A perfect example of this is Brady's character of Detective Shea...what was the point of his character, other than to relay how the events transpiring were nothing new to him to which he goes into a lengthy bit about how, during a past case, he witnessed a grisly scene involving a serial killer and the chopped up bodies of his female victims? It was kinda funny, in a macabre sense, but really had no relation to the story itself. Some of the elements in the story required a bit of an intuitive leap from the audience, but I'm not sure if that was the intent, or if it was more due to lackadaisical writing...I'm leaning towards the latter, especially considering the awkward expository sequence about three quarters in where Louise Fletcher's character spills the proverbial beans. And why did the various murders involve all sorts of mutilation? There seemed little sense to this particular aspect, especially after the motives behind the crimes are revealed (did someone order up a cold plate of revenge?). I did like the well-crafted musical score provided by Tangerine Dream, as it set the mood appropriately, and made the creepy sequences even more so...there are some brutal scenes, but these are few and sprinkled throughout the running time, as the film seems to focus more on trying to develop a continual sense of unease, rather than slop on the gore. I did like the neat, little twist near the end, as it was something I felt I should have seen coming after the fact, but didn't...

Elite Entertainment provides a good-looking anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) picture on this DVD release. There are some minor flaws, but nothing to lose any sleep over. The audio, presented in stereo, I believe, comes through clean and clearly. There are a number of special features included like two theatrical trailers for the film, two deleted scenes (with commentary), a photo gallery, extensive filmographies, an isolated musical score track, a commentary track with writer Bill Condon and actors Dan Shor and Dey Young, and trailers for other releases including Patrick (1978), Thirst (1979), and Syngenor (1990).


By the way, if you're ever in the Galesburg area, be sure to stop at the Steak `N can't miss's the place with the huge, pink neon sign out front. Hopefully they've managed to clean up all the blood in the men's washroom by now...
Strange Behavior
Bartok Kinski | Prague | 04/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Don't let the unpleasant title put you off, this is an excellent little movie that I actually found quite entertaining. The acting is top class especially from Dan Shor and Michael Murphy who star. Louise Fletcher is also on top form and all three bring a realistic almost 'cinema veritie' feel to the proceedings.

The film works because of Michael laughlins direction that develops the film on many levels. On the one hand there is lots of atmosphere and a suspenseful intensity that builds up to the films climax yet Laughlin also concentrates on character development and relationships giving us insights in to Chief Bradys (Michael Murphy) mysterious past and the close father/son relationship him and Pete (Dan Shor) have.

The film also pays close attention to small town life. In this small Louisiana town everyone knows everyone there are lots of nice little touches by Laughlin to point this out. Laughlins direction also has a humorous edge to it and the good acting adds to this. There is one incredibly surreal scene in the movie at a party where all the 'party-goers' start dancing in unison! They are all in 50's style fancy dress and dance in a hyperbolic 50's fashion! Although it is hard to decipher Laughlins motives here this scene seems incredibly inspired to me personally. Although some scenes in this film are quite shocking I cannot comment on the amount of gore in this film because I have only seen the cut release which has been cut considerably and panned and scanned. If only there was a widescreen version available I for one would instantly snap it up!"
Even Stranger Music
Myron S. Johnson | 07/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Very odd horror/slasher flick with its real New Zealand location subbing for a generic anywhere USA. The musical numbers ranging from Popular Mechanix to Lou Christie (for God's Sake!)is actually a lot of fun culminating in an almost Twin Peaks masquerade/dancing party.Special effects are mininmal, as is the blood but nobody plays an erotic college prof. better than the English actress involved,a real hoot and reminded me of the old 1940s' Spider Woman vs. Sherlock Holmes"
Lethal Injection...
Bindy Sue FrÝnkŁnschtein | under the rubble | 08/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"STRANGE BEHAVIOR begins w/ the disappearance of the mayor of Galesburg, Illinois' son. This is followed by a series of gruesome murders. Police chief, John Brady (Michael Murphy from Batman Returns and Count Yorga: Vampire) is on the case. Meanwhile, Brady's son, Peter (Dan Shor) gets involved in an experiment at the local college, involving behavior modification. Little does he know that mad science is afoot! The odd Dr. Parkinson (Fiona Lewis) is using drugs on teen volunteers which cause them to become homicidal zombies! Chief Brady solves the mystery, and goes to the secret lab for the final showdown. I like this movie. It's goofy and fun, yet has enough suspense to keep it interesting. Gorehündts will salivate over the multiple stabbings as well as the huge hypodermic needle to the eye scene! Louise Fletcher is in this too, in a throw-away role as chief Brady's girlfriend. She, along w/ Shor, Lewis, Dey Young (who plays Peter's girlfriend), and the late-great Charles Lane (as chief Brady's asst.) can all be found in Michael Laughlin's other sci-fi epic, STRANGE INVADERS. Enjoy..."