This adequate, unassuming little movie was shot in late 1979 to early 1980 and, apparently, had a small theatrical release before disappearing until 1985, when someone dug it up and released it on VHS. It was released on DVD around 2009, but that must have been a small release indeed because it's pretty hard to track down a copy. Amazon has but two listings for it, both of which are "temporarily out of stock".The Strangeness
is about a group of people hired to explore a long-abandoned mine to see if it's worth opening up. Seems that it wasn't anywhere near played out when it was closed. No, the miners simply refused to continue working in it after a spate of horrible, unexplained deaths. Not even the threat of violence could convince locals to return to work and imported workers quickly gave up and fled, as well.
The group of intrepid explorers runs into trouble pretty quickly, as the rope they use to descend into it from the entrance is neatly cut as soon as the last of them touches down. That means they can't get back out through the main entrance but they don't get overly concerned, as the old map they have shows a couple of more ways out. A bit more troubling is the powerful wind that kicks up every now and again, which has no natural means of occurring in a mine. At least one of the group happens to notice something moving right at the limit of his vision but dismisses it as a trick of the shadow. What can't be dismissed is evidence that someone has been here recently. Namely, they find a dinged up but otherwise quite new backpack - that contains plastic explosives! Unfortunately, no one notices the fresh, bloody hunks of meat nearby ...
We in the audience know of course that the backpack and the bloody meat hunks belong to a couple of spelunkers who attempted to explore the mine in a pre-credits sequence. As soon as they got inside, they were attacked and killed by something ... squishy
. Come to think of it, the attack was preceded by an unnatural wind, too. Hmm.
Speaking of that wind, it starts up with fervent vigor when the group's geologist stays behind to collect samples while the others scout on ahead. This time, the wind brings something with it, something powerful enough to push through the rock wall
to get at the geologist. From this point on, we're in familiar monster movie territory, as the monster gradually picks off the group until it whittles them down to a small enough number that it feels confident enough to attack for real.The Strangeness
has two great
scenes and a handful of good ones. Great Scene #1 happens shortly after the geologist is taken. The group is set upon by the strongest manifestation of the unnatural wind yet while they desperately attempt to rig up a battery to power the overhead lamps in that section of the mine. (Never you mind what suspiciously modern, electric lights are doing in a mine that shut down in the mid 1800s.) Obviously, someone has just cranked the smoke machine and the barrel fan up to 11 but this scene just flat-out works
! The combination of darkness, claustrophobia, and the immense dread of knowing that something bad is coming is handled brilliantly. Great Scene #2 happens when the group discovers a blocked off section of the old mine which isn't on their map. Something inside has pushed its way through the barricade, and the
braver characters go inside to investigate. What they find is extremely eerie and just gets creepier the more you think about it.
The good scenes are scattered here and there and, surprisingly, are mostly character driven. The script makes and effort to give everyone (except one guy I kept forgetting was even there) scenes that establish who they are, and it mostly works by subverting our expectations. We've got The Chick, who turns out to be a lot stronger willed and braver then anyone else in the cast. We've got The Funny Guy, who turns out to be able to get serious when he needs to. We've got The Hero, who is not remotely heroic at all. In fact, he's a completely ineffectual coward. We've got The a***ole, who ... turns out to be an a***ole. We've got The Nerd, who turns out to be a lot better in a crisis than The Hero, right up until he turns into a freaking idiot
and goes off by himself to get killed. There's also the geologist and that other guy but they are complete nonentities.
So, what about the monster? Imagine a pile of intestines. Now imagine that there are four or maybe six tentacles sprouting from the pile of intestines. On top of the pile of intestines, there's this thing that looks sort of like an upside-down face made of female sexual organs: the womb is the forehead, the ovaries are the eyes, the vaginal canal is the nose, etc. With me so far? Ok, now on top of the face, there's a huge, wet vulva, that constantly squeezes open and shut while dripping copious amounts of white, sticky goo.
The p***y-monster kills by snatching you with its tentacles and shoving you repeatedly into its deep, wet hole, which coats you with sticky secretions that it uses to adhere you to the roof of the cave, where you will slowly dissolve into a puddle of goo, which the monster will later come back and eagerly suck up into its orifice.
I'm pretty sure the p***y-monster started out as a take on the roper
from Dungeons and Dragons, as its general appearance and behavior is pretty close to the late-70s iteration of that monster. Somewhere along the line, possibly after a really great bong hit, the person building it thought, "I could totally put a p***y on this thing." Sure, it's completely crass but the p***y-monster's utter vulgarity is what gives The Strangeness
that little oomph to push it across the line from a neat little movie into a true, hidden gem. You will never, ever forget this movie after you see the monster in action. Ever.