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Strange Behavior: The Bizarre Cult Classic You Need to See

Strange Behavior: The Bizarre Cult Classic You Need to See

Strange Behavior holds a special place in my personal horror pantheon. As a teen in the 80’s, I was voraciously consuming every slasher film I could get my hands on. But amidst the sea of formulaic knife-wielding maniacs, Strange Behavior emerged as a revelation. This eccentric little shocker from New Zealand blindsided me with its bizarre twists and turns. It seemed to share my morbid sensibilities and dark sense of humor. I felt a peculiar kinship with its offbeat outsider spirit.  

Over the years, as Strange Behavior gained its rightful cult status, my early affinity for it has only strengthened. When I revisit it now, I feel a rush of nostalgia for that first viewing. The synth score, the DayGlo tones, the creative kills all transport me back in time. Yet the film has aged incredibly well. Its subversive satire of small-town politics and scientific overreach seems downright prescient. The teen protagonists share a charming, awkward camaraderie that still feels authentic.

While most 80’s slashers were content to follow a formula, Strange Behavior dared to be different. It has eccentricity and originality in spades. Director Michael Laughlin crafted a twisted horror film that commits fully to its own weird vision. There is something almost surreal and dreamlike about its distorted reality. For fellow weirdos and outcasts who don’t fit the mold, this film feels like a rallying cry. Decades later, Strange Behavior remains a film ahead of its time – and a formative film of my youth that still haunts me to this day. Its bizarre genius deserves far more recognition. But in some ways, I like keeping it as my own peculiar little secret.

A Feast for the Senses: Cinematography and Sound

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From the moment Strange Behavior began, I was utterly entranced by its visuals and sound. The cinematography cast an almost hypnotic spell, making the idyllic landscape of my youth seem strange and menacing. Laughlin’s off-kilter lens infused each frame with danger and eccentricity. I was struck by how the familiar could be transformed into something so uncanny. The electronic score only heightened this effect, keeping my nerves on edge even as it induced a trance-like nostalgia.  

The film’s peculiar style was unlike anything I had experienced before. As a teen, I was bombarded with formulaic slashers every week at the video store, but Strange Behavior felt like a revelation. It was a feast for the senses that mirrored my own warped imagination and penchant for the weird. I delighted in how the film toyed with conventions, all while unleashing such bizarre and shocking sequences. The surreal scenes filled me with a mingled sense of wonder, humor and horror that I have never quite shaken. 

Over 30 years later, Strange Behavior has lost none of its power to enthrall and unsettle me. The cinematography and soundtrack instantly transport me back to that first watching, bringing a rush of nostalgia along with goosebumps. Its offbeat vision made an indelible impact on my tastes and sensibilities at a formative age. The genius of the film lies in how Laughlin and his collaborators created a distorted mirror of our mundane reality, reflecting our strangest dreams and nightmares back at us. They transformed the familiar trappings of the slasher into a surreal, satirical, and utterly unsettling psychotropic experience. For this weird little film from New Zealand, my senses will be forever grateful. 

Strange Behavior: A Flawed But Compelling Cult Classic

Strange Behavior is a film defined by contrasts – between the ordinary and surreal, humor and horror, amateurism and genius. For every cringeworthy moment, there is a touch of brilliance. While uneven and dated in parts, at its best Strange Behavior is a subversive satire that gets under your skin. 

When I first saw the film as a teen, its flaws were readily apparent. The plot veers into disjointed weirdness, the pacing drags, and the budget constraints show through. Yet I was utterly entranced by its peculiar vision. Director Michael Laughlin coaxed strange magic from familiar territory, transforming the mundane into something sinisterly uncanny. The bizarre kill scenes and hallucinatory sequences ignited my imagination. I delighted in how it subverted conventions and indulged in surreal nonsense. 

Over time, the amateur elements have become charming, while its subversive edges have only sharpened. The film’s synth score and off-kilter style are a portal into the era that shaped me. But beyond nostalgia, Strange Behavior has endured because it dared to be different. Laughlin created a funhouse reflection of society’s ills and a tribute to outsiders. The film thrives on contrasts, embracing weirdness and messiness over polish.

Not all of Strange Behavior works, but when it does the results are compellingly peculiar. For every cheesy effect, there is a queer touch of genius. It is a flawed film by a group of inspired weirdos and misfits, punching above their weight class. Made for outsiders, by outsiders, it celebrates bizarre brilliance over conformity.  Strange Behavior may not appeal to all, but for those attuned to its surreal vision, it remains a cult classic as strange and indelible as adolescence itself. Laughlin’s little shocker from Down Under is weird, wild and wonder-filled – and all the more memorable for its imperfections.

Strange Behavior: A Bizarre Genre Collision

Strange Behavior eludes easy categorization. While reminiscent of other offbeat 80’s slashers, it inhabits a genre limbo all its own. Director Michael Laughlin crafted a peculiar vision that blends shocks and satire, mad science and surrealism. 

 The slasher elements feel familiar, from creative kills to teens in peril. But rather than a masked killer, there are kooky scientists conducting sinister “programming” experiments. The psychedelic sequences and dystopian themes also channel 50’s science fiction. Yet Strange Behavior satirizes the era’s authority figures and conformity with a rebellious punk spirit.  

Strange Behavior pays homage to its influences but forges a bizarre path. Laughlin was an outsider steeped in weird cinema, and the film wears these influences with pride. Visual references to everything from Re-Animator to Ramones abound. But Strange Behavior twists conventions, delivers surreal jolts and maintains a wry self-awareness.

 The film’s dreamy style is pure 80’s nostalgia, all neon and synth. Yet it has endured because beneath the era’s trappings, it is timeless in its subversion. Strange Behavior skewers society’s programing of youth into drones, and celebrates outsiders and weirdos. Laughlin transformed familiar genre tropes into a funhouse reflection of the ills of his age.

While comparable to kooky cult classics, Strange Behavior defies comparison. It delivers shocks yet aims to unsettle psychologically. Gory kills share space with bizarre satire and surreal comedy. Any labels—slasher, mad scientist, punk—fail to convey its peculiar alchemy.

 Decades later, Strange Behavior remains compellingly strange. Its flaws only add to its charm, outnumbered by subversive genius. Laughlin’s film pays tribute to the weird, wild spirit of adolescence and individuality. It delivers a surreal vision ahead of its time, as bizarre and indelible as youth itself. Strange Behavior proves there were fellow weirdos making movies just for strange birds and outsiders—and for that, we should be forever grateful.

The Legacy of Strange Behavior

Strange Behavior was destined for cult status from its bizarre conception. While a commercial and critical flop on release, it has gained a devoted following through home video and streaming. For weird film aficionados seeking an unconventional slasher bursting with surreal style, Strange Behavior deserves a spot on your must-watch list. 

The film remains largely obscure but has seen several releases on DVD and Blu-Ray over the years. It is available for purchase on various platforms like Amazon, where fans have praised its wealth of special features on the making of this peculiar little shocker. Strange Behavior is also streaming for free for Prime members, as well as on Tubi, Vudu and Plex.

While Strange Behavior is not to all tastes, it has clearly cast a strange spell over viewers attuned to its bizarre flourishes. For a deep cut from the ’80s slasher boom by a group of inspired outsider weirdos, the film has had a surprisingly enduring impact and amassed a cult of strange birds and misfits proudly marching to the beat of their own drum, just like the film’s subversive punk protagonists.

For daring to indulge in weirdness and individuality over polish and conformity, Strange Behavior has cemented itself as a true cult classic. Nearly 40 years after release, Michael Laughlin’s kooky creation remains compellingly bizarre and wholly original. Its subversive, satirical and surreal delights are well worth seeking out for any film fan looking to take a walk on the weird side. There has never been another slasher quite like this unsettling, darkly comedic tour de force of low-budget genius. Strange Behavior is utterly uncategorizable—and all the more brilliant for it. Long may its peculiar vision continue to cast a spell over new generations of outsider weirdos.

Justin

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