Zombies have never been as unsexy as they have in the gore-filled, not-so-erotic comedy-thriller, Night of Something Strange. Owen Hughes put a bucket by the side of the sofa and watched this absolutely disgusting indie flick through his fingers. Here are his thoughts.
It was around November last year that Paul Field, co-host of Field & Mullinger’s Underground Nights, sent me an email recommending a bunch of movies he’d seen recently. Amongst them was his intriguing description for Night of Something Strange, an “STD zombie gore/sex fest”. When another email came around from Terror Films earlier this month announcing the worldwide release date for the STD infected thriller, replete with a screener copy on request… Well, how could I resist?
The story begins with a necrophiliac (Wayne W Johnson) who has broken into a morgue to shag a corpse whose cause of death is indeterminate, although a toe-tag suggests it’s possibly due to some kind of sexually transmitted disease. Sure enough, the chap’s chap starts to cause him some grief, he turns into a zombie and Bob’s your uncle. If by “Bob”, I mean “he starts raping”, and by “your uncle”, I mean “everybody he comes in contact with”. Unlike your traditional Romero-inspired zombie flick, this virus turns its victims into the living dead through sex, urine and all manner of ungodly fluids. You may not get pregnant from sitting on a blood-stained, vomit-covered, petrol station toilet seat, but you sure as Hell might pick up more from it than you drop off.
Whilst it isn’t a particularly new phenomenon for the genre to introduce allegories about the pitfalls of sexual promiscuity amongst teens, you will be hard pressed to find any that commit to it as bloody violently as director Jonathan Straiton and producer Ron Bonk’s horror-comedy. From Brian De Palma‘s Carrie and David Cronenberg‘s Shivers, to man-eating vaginas in 2007’s Teeth and modern genre classic It Follows, few have covered the topic with such joyful abandon as Night of Something Strange. It revels in pushing the envelope so far that your Post Office need to charge you an extra 65p for the stamp.
For the most part, the film is relatively uncomplicated. Five teenage friends on spring break find themselves at a small town motel when one of the group, Carrie (Toni Ann Gambale), contracts the STD to end all STDs. What makes the film so unusual is just how aggressively the script goes after its characters. It’s fairly common for horrors to make the characters they want to kill off seem unpleasant so that when they do die, the audience can whoop and cheer guilt-free. However, rarely have I seen a horror film where every single character is so utterly unlikable. There’s not an ounce of sympathy to be scrounged for any of the group.
Kudos to Michael Merchant because his character, Freddy, the “alpha” of the bunch, is especially irksome, although it’s a solid performance. It’s not necessarily a film about strong characters; it is much more in the vain of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as the group dynamic as a whole supersedes the need for individuality. There’s the jock, the stoner, the fat loser, the popular girl, the smarter girl, the weird (very, very weird) locals, and so on and so forth. If you’ve seen any horror films before, you’ve seen these characters before. Wayne W. Johnson as the mutilated infected creep terrorising the populace is perfect in the role, whilst the cigarette-smoking Kera O’Bryon and Kirk LaSalle could have seamlessly shuffled straight out of Tromaville and right onto set.
This is a Diet Troma in terms of tone, gore, nudity, comedy and pretty much any other area you can think of too. It’s not for the faint-hearted nor those who are weak of stomach. Nob gags, toilet humour, muff monsters and killer erections will make you laugh and squirm in equal measure. Whether that’s “a lot”, “a little” or “not at all” will be down to your own brand of humour. Though distinctly amateurish in some areas (spell-check your credits! “Could of”? Really?) it is a passionately made indie feature with a cast who clearly made every effort possible to make Night of Something Strange feel like a bigger, slicker and better movie than it had any right to be.
Night of Something Strange is now available from Terror Films on VOD at iTunes and Google Play.