One of the finest eras for genuinely fun horror movies was the Eighties. It was an era that gave us The Evil Dead II, Fright Night, House, Return of The Living Dead and Night of the Creeps.
This last film has had a far wider influence than many casual fans might have realised. It was clearly a massive inspiration for James Gunn’s Slither, and it certainly shares some key traits with the new festival smash hit, Night of Something Strange.
A shlocky, gross-out body horror flick, NoSS has been earning rave reviews at its multiple fest screenings.
But is this a movie I’d want to spend the night with?
Or is it one that would leave me feeling estranged?
NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (2016)
Dir: Jonathan Straiton
Stars: Rebecca C. Kasek, Trey Harrison, Michael Merchant, Toni Anne Gambale, John Walsh, Tarrence Taylor, Nicola Fiore, Wayne W. Johnson, Janet Mayson, Kirk La Salle, Al Lawler, Kera O’Bryon, Wes Reid, Billy Garberina, David Meadows
SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much here but read on at your own risk.
After an extremely messy opening sequence in which we discover the origin of an STD that transforms its victims into violent, ravenous rapist-zombies(!), we are introduced to a gang of youngsters about to embark on a Spring Break road trip.
We have good girl Christine (Kasek), her best friend Carrie (Gambale), Carrie’s obnoxious and sleazy boyfriend Freddy (Merchant), nerdy Jason (Walsh) and wannabe toughguy/pothead Brooklyn (Taylor), all making their way to a party destination, who choose to stop over in seedy roadside motel.
Also at the motel are bad chick Pam (Fiore) and her tough boyfriend, soldier Dirk (Harrison) who are hooking up for a night of passion.
However, unbeknownst to our horny high-schoolers, the infected necrophiliac who has kickstarted this whole mess is also on his way to the motel…
THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Let’s make no bones about it — Night of Something Strange is a shocking movie that will cause no end of gasps, squeals and nervous giggles from an audience. It is full-on, in your face, legitimately disgusting at times… and THAT is why it is so good.
Think the aforementioned Night of the Creeps crossed with South Park, NoSS is chock-full of gross-out moments, from sexual misadventures to a veritable explosion of body-fluids. As such, it’s absolutely hilarious.
It certainly helps that these moments are brought to life with tremendous special effects from the very talented Colby Flinchum. The visual effects and make-up are far more impressive than NoSS’s modest budget might lead to you expect.
But then, over-performing is pretty much the norm for this movie.
Take the cast — I think it’s safe to say that most of the leads in the movie probably won’t be immediately recognisable to many viewers, but that doesn’t stop them from knocking their performances out of the park.
Harrison does a tremendous job of delivering some killer tough-guy lines with a perfectly straight face (which can have been no easy task, considering how badass some of his one-liners are!), while the impressive Kasek plays things equally straight and shows some real potential as a future Scream Queen.
The very attractive young Gambale shows real dedication to her craft with a couple of her scenes, as does the simply fantastic Merchant. It is Merchant’s crass, loudmouth Freddy who very nearly steals the film. Of course it helps that the character is the movie’s Stifler — a total dick so vile that it’s kind of ok to laugh at all the disgusting scrapes he finds himself in. Merchant is brave, utterly shameless and throws himself into his role with gusto. He’s awesome!
So too are very amusing and extremely likeable Walsh and Taylor, both of whom provide plenty of fun moments and more than hold their own with their co-stars.
Making up our rapist zombie fodder is the very sexy Fiore (who also worked as a make-up artist on the movie). She plays the bad-girl you love to hate, and you can tell she’s having plenty of fun playing the witchy Pam. She’s a joy to watch, and I’m going to be sure to check out the other titles on her résumé.
Of course, the actors are only as good as the material they’re given to work with, and the writing team of director Straiton, Ron Bonk and Mean Gene deliver. They’ve written plenty of great dialogue, some brilliant set-pieces and a story that genuinely manages to shock and surprise. The plot has some pretty out-there twists that you’ll never see coming, and even manages to nicely blend genres.
Of course, it is this shocking nature that is the film’s biggest strength. The violent monsters are suitably terrifying villains, especially the extremely menacing Johnson as the lead undead sex-fiend, Cornelius. Under the extremely, erm, gooey prosthetics, he gives a committed deranged performance and fellow lead monsters, Mayson and LaSalle have their moments too, veering from terrifying to laugh-out-loud funny (especially that ‘cigarette drag’ during a tense chase sequence).
As the zombies mutate even further later in the flick, their genitalia transforming into lethal weapons, they become reminiscent of the ‘sickos’ in Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse segment, Planet Terror or Sam Raimi’s depraved and twisted Deadites. So, even with the laughs and outlandish action, the film manages to pack in some well-crafted scares and some seriously intense sequences that suggest that should Straiton try his hand at a more traditional out-and-out horror movie, he could well deliver the goods once again.
After all, it’s safe to say that his assured direction and keen eye for a good shot are massive contributing factors to the success of NoSS. Bravo sir!
With plenty of blood, guts and even less savoury body fluids, Night of Something Strange is a riot of bad-taste, guaranteed to get hardcore genre fans, gorehounds and anybody who likes their humour way out on the edge grinning like maniacs.
Then the film REALLY gets going.
If that all sounds a bit much for you, then you should probably steer clear of this one.
I dug the film’s in-your-face, no-holds-barred, full-frontal assault on decency, but I imagine more squeamish viewers may find this flick doesn’t so much cross the line as strip naked and urinate over it. You have been warned!
By the same token, the rather gonzo developments in the script may lose some viewers (there’s a very odd, but gloriously depraved sub-plot late on that may leave some scratching their heads). This is a movie that was created without the ‘safe’ guidance of a major studio, as such it is imaginative, creative, but undoubtedly far more bizarre than your average fan of The Conjuring or Insidious will be used to. Tonally it is pretty erratic, veering wildly from extreme violence to toilet humour, sometimes in the space of mere seconds. I think this is all part of the movie’s unpredictable charm, but I can imagine that fans looking for a movie more easy to pigeonhole may not share my opinion.
Of course, another side effect of the fact that the movie was made outside of a major studio is that it has a reduced budget. For the most part, NoSS defies its humble means, with director Straiton and his cinematographer, Rex Femscared, polishing the visuals impressively.
However, it’s fair to say that if you’re more used to the ultra-slick output of Blumhouse Productions, you may need to adjust your expectations accordingly.
THE VERDICT: An unapologetic fist (or perhaps another body appendage) in the face, Night of Something Strange takes your typical Eighties splatter horror flick, sticks it in a blender with some late Nineties gross-out humour, and produces a heady, hilarious, horrific cocktail that is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
I’m genuinely disappointed to have seen this via a screener kindly provided by the jolly decent Straiton, because I really wish I could have seen this on the big screen with a laughing, shrieking, gasping group of genre fans. This is the ultimate horror party movie and it needs to be seen the right way!
Luckily, UK fans will be given precisely that opportunity when it screens at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on 21 January at 5.30pm. Head on over to the Festival’s official web-site and snap up some tickets!
In the meantime, head over to Night of Something Strange’s Facebook page here.
Why not give them a Like while you’re there too. I’m sure they’d appreciate it!
If you haven’t already, do please check out and Like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House @HickeysHorrors
Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.