Night of Something Strange

A group of teenagers get stranded in a creepy motel on their vacation. Little do they know, they are being followed by zombies. What’s worse is that this zombie virus is a STD, so you can imagine the interesting way that it spreads. One by one the teens turn into the living dead. Will any of them be able to avoid this horrific STD?

While there have been films in the past that use the idea of an STD being the origin of a zombie virus, there are no other films that take it to the extreme that Night of Something Strange does. In all honesty, there are a few scenes in the film that take it a bit too far for me. There was more than one occasion where I was cringing and felt a bit uncomfortable about what I was watching. That isn’t to say the film isn’t hilarious in how outrageous almost every minute is. The story is meant to be insane and campy. In that regard, the film makers did an excellent job.

The characters were even extreme in many ways. In general, they all fit some horror film stereotype you expect to see. These stereotypes can especially be seen in the male characters. There is the douchey boyfriend, the nerdy virgin, the man-whore, and the hunky hero. With the exception of the hero, all of the male characters are exaggerated to the point where they are completely unlikable. This makes it hard to believe that the seemingly intelligent young women in the film would waste their time with these idiots, but at the same time it works in making the situations more humorous.

This film had a very entertaining group of actors. For me, there were two performances that stood out. The first was from Michael Merchant (She Kills, Science Team), who plays Freddy. Freddy is quite possibly the most despicable character in this film, but at the same time he’s so funny you can’t help but enjoy every time he’s on the screen. Poor Freddy also gets into some of the worst situations, so you sympathize for him at least a little bit. The second performance I loved was Trey Harrison (Ithaca, Faux Paws) as Dirk. Dirk is singled out as the hero of the film fairly early on. What I loved about his performance is that he had some of the best one-liners throughout the entire film. The way he delivered the one-liners was so cheesy and hilarious I couldn’t help but laugh.

Another high point of the film was the practical effects. Being a zombie flick, you expect there to be quite a bit of blood and guts. Add the STD factor, and it makes for some more interesting practical effects. All of these were disgusting and fantastically done. I also loved that each zombie had its own individual look, while still appearing to have been infected by the same virus. There are two specific practical effects that occur later in the film that are hilarious, disgusting, and incredibly well made.

This is the kind of film that sticks with you long after it’s through. While I’m not going to give it the highest overall rating, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun while watching the film. Night of Something Strange is a cringe-worthy gore fest that will hilariously go places you probably will wish it hadn’t. The film embraces its camp, and you can tell the film makers really had a blast creating this disturbing tale. Be forewarned, it is not for the faint of heart… or stomach.


The Green Inferno

A group of college students venture to Peru to stop a logging company from destroying the rain forest and slaughtering a native tribe. After what seems like a successful trip, the plane the students are traveling home in crashes in the middle of the “green inferno.” Shortly after their crash, the coeds encounter the tribe they were trying to protect. Unfortunately, the tribe sees them as the enemy. It’s not long before the group realizes the tribe has a sinister plan for the crash survivors.

Eli Roth really knows how to make a cringeworthy film. His niche over the years has definitely been films that are not particularly scary, but they are incredibly suspenseful with lots of blood and guts. There were multiple instances in this film that made my skin crawl. The practical effects for those scenes looked absolutely amazing. There is one particular scene where you see lots of dismemberment and everything looks so lifelike it makes the scene a bit hard to watch. Despite the few scenes where there were large amounts of gore, I will say I’m surprised there wasn’t more gore. Especially from the previews, it seemed like the film was going to a be non-stop blood fest. You really only see maybe two or three deaths that are on the more gruesome side, while the others are hidden or done off-camera. While this bothered me at first, I’m realizing now that it may have been more due to the fact that Roth is maturing in his film style. The focus become more on the fight for survival as opposed to the horrific deaths.

Another aspect that shows Roth is growing in his range as a writer/director is the complexity of the story and the characters. When the film starts you think you know who the good guys and bad guys are. The students are the good guys, the loggers are the bad guys, and the people of the tribe are innocent bystanders. As the film continues these lines blur. You end up hating people you never expected, and others that you thought were bad people become heroes. The biggest blurred line relates to the tribe. While they are viciously killing the college students and eating them, none of this would have happened if the loggers weren’t encroaching on their land and killing their people. I also couldn’t help but wonder if the tribe would have done this to the group if they hadn’t been wearing the same jumpsuits the loggers wear. With the exception of a couple of the students, the tribe is almost the most innocent party in all this even though they are the cannibals.

When it comes to the part of the film that I didn’t like, it is hard to explain without giving spoilers. I will do my best not to reveal too much (I hate spoilers). As a whole, I thought the acting was very well done. Lorenza Izzo (Aftershock, Knock Knock) was great as Justine. The only person I thought made me cringe thanks to her acting was Sky Ferreira (Putty Hill). She played Justine’s sassy, sarcastic roommate in the beginning of the film. Her delivery was just so dry and forced that it pained me to watch her. Another issue I had related to the actors, but not necessarily the acting, is that three members of the group that travel to the rain forest were Chilean. If they had somehow explained how three people from Chile all ended up as students at the same school (maybe some special foreign exchange program) I wouldn’t have minded much. It just seemed odd, especially since they were all from the same country instead of different ones.

Another thing I didn’t enjoy in this movie were some rather random things that happened throughout the film that seemed out of place. Again, I’m trying not to give too much away. At one point there is a particular character that you grow to hate more and more as the film goes on. At one point he does something sexual while in captivity that I assume is there to make you hate him even more, but just makes absolutely no sense when considering what else is going on. This is also, I assume, supposed to be one of the many humorous moments that they add in throughout the movie. Generally I love when horror films add a bit of humor, but this scene came out more as creepy and out of place than funny. One of the death scenes even came about in what was meant to be humorous circumstances, but it made the scene very cheesy for me. The one thing that bothered me the most was the very last scene that comes in a bit after the credits start rolling. I won’t go into too much detail of the content of the scene, but it was an odd choice. It felt like an afterthought. I don’t believe it is something that would or could ever happen in real life, and it appeared to be forced in to give the option of a sequel.

After how long it took for this film to come out I am so happy to have finally seen it. I’d say that as a whole this was a successful project by Eli Roth. There are obviously aspects of the film that did not work within the context of the story. There are even times where it detracts from the story a bit (especially that last scene during the credits). Looking past this, the film is still fun, intense, and will make your skin crawl. If you’re on the squeamish side, consider yourself warned.