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Strange Behavior


Strange Behavior

Strange Behavior
Promotional movie poster for the film
Directed by Michael Laughlin
Produced by Antony I Ginnane,
John Barnett
Written by Bill Condon
Starring Michael Murphy
Louise Fletcher
Dan Shor
Fiona Lewis
Arthur Dignam
Music by Tangerine Dream
Cinematography Louis Horvath
Edited by Petra
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release dates
  • 1981 (1981)
Running time 94 min
Country New Zealand
Language English

Strange Behavior (original title Dead Kids) is a 1981 mystery horror film directed by Michael Laughlin, written by Bill Condon, and starring Michael Murphy. It is a homage to the pulp horror films of the 1950s. The film was intended as the first installment of the Strange Trilogy which was cancelled after the second installment, Strange Invaders, failed to attract a large enough audience.


Several teenage boys in Galesburg, Illinois are murdered, each apparently by a different killer. Local policeman John Brady (Murphy) investigates. The victims are sons of men who previously collaborated with John to investigate the unethical experiments of Galesburg University professor Dr. Le Sange (Dignam), who reportedly died years previously but still gives lectures via old films. Le Sange's research is being continued by Gwen Parkinson (Lewis). 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. Unbeknownst to John, Gwen has enlisted his son Pete (Shor) as a research subject. Gwen's "experiments" involve mind control, turning the subject into a programmed killer.


The supporting cast includes Dey Young, Marc McClure, Scott Brady, Charles Lane, Beryl Te Wiata, Elizabeth Cheshire and Alma Woods. Screenwriter Bill Condon has a brief cameo as a teenager killed at the film's opening.

Though set in Illinois, the film was shot in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Encyclopedia of Horror designates the film as a New Zealand film. It lists several of the similar productions of its Australian producer Antony I Ginnane and frequent collaborator David Hemmings, who is Executive Producer of this film through the Hemdale Film Corporation. The book opines that "Dead Kids must count as one of their most professional efforts." [1]


The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by World Northal in June 1981. The film was released on VHS by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video.[2]

The film was released twice on DVD in the United States. First by Elite Entertainment in 2003[3] and then by Synapse Films in 2008.[4]

The film was released on Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack by Severin Films under its New Zealand title, Dead Kids in 2014.

A novelization of the film was published in 1982 under the title "School Days" by Robert Hughes.


The soundtrack features electronic music by Tangerine Dream. Also included are songs "The Ritz" and "Jumping Out a Window" by Pop Mechanix, "Shivers" by The Birthday Party, and "Lightnin' Strikes" by Lou Christie. "The Ritz" and "Lightnin' Strikes" are heard at a teenage costume party during which characters (including two enacted by Ngila Dickson and Peta Rutter) spontaneously perform a synchronised dance routine to "Lightnin' Strikes".


  1. ^ Milne, Tom. Willemin, Paul. Hardy, Phil. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Horror, Octopus Books, 1986. ISBN 0-7064-2771-8 p 361
  2. ^ "Company Credits for Strange Behavior". Retrieved 2011-04-10. 
  3. ^ "Strange Behavior (Elite)". Retrieved 2011-04-10. 
  4. ^ "Strange Behavior (Synapse)". Retrieved 2011-04-10. 

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