Strange Behavior DVD Review

Written by Peter West

DVD released by Elite Entertainment

Directed by Michael Laughlin
Writing credits Bill Condon & Michael Laughlin
1991, Region 1 (NTSC), 99 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on May 13th, 2003

Michael Murphy as John Brady
Louise Fletcher as Barbara Moorehead
Dan Shor as Pete Brady
Fiona Lewis as Gwen Parkinson
Arthur Dignam as Dr. Le Sangel/Nagel
Dey Young as Caroline
Marc McClure as Oliver Myerhoff
Scott Brady as Shea
Charles Lane as Donovan


Oscar-winning screenwriters have to start somewhere, and Bill Condon started with this little gem from 1981 called Strange Behavior.

The story starts in the small community of Galesburg, Illinois, with the Mayor's son Bryan (Bill Condon) getting hacked to death in the dark while making shadow puppets. Thought to be missing, the community is unaware of the killer among them... until the school bully Waldo gets stabbed to death at a neighborhood party while the kids inside dance to Lou Christie's "Lightning Strikes." Waldo's seriously underage girlfriend escapes death when partygoers hear her screaming as she's bleeding to death in the pool! Police Chief John Brady interrogates his son Pete (Dan Shor) and his best friend Oliver, (Marc McClure best known as 'Jimmy Olsen' of the Superman movies) who have no idea who the killer is. Pete, convinced by Oliver that he can earn some easy money, volunteers to be a human guinea pig at the local university.

The experiment looks to be an easy hundred bucks the first day, when Pete is only asked to take a pill which increases his brain power. Along with the C-note, Pete also picks up the receptionist Caroline (Dey Young). At dinner, Pete impresses her with his prowess in the French language and winds up spending the night in a dorm full of nubile coeds! The missing Bryan is found 'playing scarecrow' in a local field, bringing in additional police from out of town. It is now known that Sheriff Brady has had problems in the past with the university and the research they are performing. The Brady's housekeeper (who is not named Alice) stops in on another client family, and meets a tragic end when she discovers an overweight coed chopping up young Timothy in the bathtub.

Day two of the experiment is not a walk in the park for young Pete, strapped in a chair, as his father is downstairs questioning the university staff about fat chicks! We then find that the experiment is really mind-control and after a shot in the eye, Pete is dispatched home to do in his dad! Chief Brady's girlfriend Barbara (played by Oscar-winning actress Louise Fletcher) explains to Caroline and Pete why John has such a problem with the university and it's late head researcher, who the elder Brady holds responsible for the death of Pete's mother. The tension continues until son confronts father in the shocking climax!


Strange Behavior is one of those movies that makes a memorable impression. I saw it first, probably 20 years ago and never saw it again until reviewing this DVD. A clever script and top notch cast make this one above average 80's slasher flick. There is as you can see from the screenshots some great gore and special effects. This movie was produced by the same producer who did Elite's recent releases of Patrick and Thirst. Filmed entirely in Auckland, New Zealand, Strange Behavior has a Midwest feel, probably due to the almost entirely American cast. Recognizable faces are Louise Fletcher and Charles Lane (who was in almost every TV sitcom in the '50s and '60s), several others like Marc McClure have gone to fame later. This movie also attracted critical acclaim and was a cult film among Hollywood's inner circle. When Michael Murphy (a Woody Allen film regular) showed the film to Allen, he called it subtlety funny. Comedian/Writer Buck Henry used Fiona Lewis' line "I can't stop you, I don't have a gun." as his answering machine message after watching this film!

Video and Audio:

For a 22 year old film of modest budget the picture is excellent! I had seen this movie on cable in the early 80's and the pan and scan tranfer was terrible. Strange Behavior is presented on this DVD in its original 2.35:1 scope aspect ratio, and really does justice to the film! Almost completely free of defects. Elite Entertainment has done an incredible job with the transfer! My rating 5/5

Once again, Elite does not indicate exactly how the soundtrack is presented. I suspect it is a Dolby Digital Mono. Crisp and clear. this Tangerine Dream scored track does the trick providing the thrills to go with the chills! Another Elite special is the isolated musical score, I was disappointed that Lou Christie's "Lightning Strikes" was not included on the seperate music track, other songs from the film are though.

Special Features:

  • Theatrical Trailers – U.S and Australian
  • Photo Gallery
  • Filmographies
  • Commentary Track with Director Michael Laughlin and Writer Bill Condon

Here's where Elite always goes the second mile! Included are US and Austrailian trailers, the above mentioned isolated musical score, commentary with writer Bill Condon and stars Dan Shor and Dey Young. Filmographies and a picture gallery are also included. I really enjoyed the commentary, it was great that Elite was able to have such a famous screenwriter come back to review his first work.


Movie: 5 Stars
Video: 5 Stars
Audio: 4 Stars
Features: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars


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