‘It’s dead of night and everyone’s asleep. …Almost everybody!’
Strange Behavior – original title Dead Kids; also released as Small Town Massacre and Human Experiments – is a 1981 New Zealand mystery horror film directed by Michael Laughlin, written by Bill Condon (Bride of Frankenstein; Gods and Monsters), and starring Michael Murphy (Phase IV, Shocker), Louise Fletcher (Exorcist II: The Heretic) and horror regular Fiona Lewis (The Fury; Blue Blood). It is an homage to the pulp horror films of the 1950s.
The film was intended as the first part of the Strange Trilogy that was cancelled after the second instalment, Strange Invaders, failed to attract a large enough audience. Though set in Illinois, the film was shot in Auckland, New Zealand.
Several teenage boys in Galesburg, Illinois are murdered, each apparently by a different killer. Local policeman John Brady (Michael Murphy) investigates. The victims are sons of men who previously collaborated with John to investigate the unethical experiments of Galesburg University professor Doctor Le Sange (Arthur Dignam), who was reportedly killed years previously but still gives lectures via old films. Le Sange’s research is being continued by Gwen Parkinson (Fiona Lewis).
Unbeknownst to John, Gwen has enlisted his son Pete (Dan Shor) as a research subject. Gwen’s “experiments” involve mind control, turning the subject into a programmed killer. John, whose late wife had worked for Le Sange, becomes convinced that Le Sange is still alive and is waging a vendetta against those who wronged him…
The 2014 Severin Films Blu-ray + DVD combo features:
- Audio Commentary With Director/Co-Writer Michael Laughlin
- Audio Commentary With Co-Writer/Associate Producer Bill Condon and Actors Dan Shor & Dey Young
- Featurette: The Effects Of Strange Behavior – An Interview With Makeup Effects Artist Craig Reardon
- US Trailer
- International Trailer
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The UK DVD release was censored by the BBFC to remove 27 seconds of “sight of vertical wrist slashing, on grounds of imitability” but the US Synapse Special Edition DVD released in 2008 is uncut and includes:
- Audio Commentary with Writer Bill Condon & Actors Dan Shor and Dey Young
- U.S. and Australian Theatrical Trailers
- Deleted Scenes
- Photo Gallery
- Isolated Music Score
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“Strange Behavior is graced with a great script (by director Laughlin and Bill Condon) that is chock-full of interesting, quirky characters and unexpected events taking place. Wrongly labelled as a slasher film in the 80s, instead what we have here is an enjoyably original and sometimes silly mish-mash of several horror and sci-fi themes, remarkably gelling together superbly as a whole.” Sex Gore Mutants
“The good news is that Strange Behavior is indeed unique. Until the very end, there’s hardly a predictable scene in view. It definitely goes against the grain of the horror film, circa 1981: the killings aren’t milked for gore, and aren’t the center of interest. This picture got a solid release, when gut-buckets like City of the Living Dead were grabbing fan attention but playing mostly outside the mainstream.'” DVD Savant