By summer of ’98 I was deep into my adolescent X-Files obsession, so when Disturbing Behavior was announced with one of the better X-Files directors, David Nutter, attached I couldn’t have been more excited. But I was apparently alone in that camp. MGM had something on their hands that on paper appeared to be for the same crowd as teen friendly genre titles of the mid 90s like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Craft and other ’98 titles like Urban Legend and The Faculty. But Nutter’s film was decidedly different from the pack and as such, the studio dropped it for better or worse. Yet here we are eighteen years later and Disturbing Behavior is making it’s HD debut.
What’s most immediately striking about Disturbing Behavior is how similar it is to 1987’s Zombie High, another film featuring students that are slowly appearing more conformist, aggressive and otherwise alien. Yet Nutter’s film takes things to another level, albeit a decidedly more 90s one, involving cliques (going to the extent of including a Clueless-esque sequence where each social circle is explicitly explained to the audience) and an increasing awareness of mind control to the mix. At the same time, what we have here isn’t even Nutter’s final film. It has been known for a while now that the studio forced Nutter to cut a few scenes of exposition resulting in a leaner but less cohesive film than what could have been. But, as is, it does work and much better than reviews at the time would suggest. It’s not great, but in the pantheon of mid to late 90s teen targeted scare films, it manages to be alternately smart, silly and bizarre and never becomes boring. Plus, how can you ignore a movie that kills off brain dead jocks the same way it does rats?
Scream Factory have brought Disturbing Behavior to Blu-ray for the first time and it mostly looks really solid. There’s some digital noise that appears alongside the organic film grain, and some of the blacks aren’t as deep as they could be, but this definitely looks better than its SD incarnation. Sound comes to us as a DTS HD MA 5.1 track which gets the job done. This can be a loud movie at times and when it is, the track shines. When things turn more conversational, I found myself reaching for the volume control. Outside of that, all is well. Fans should be pleased with this if they keep their expectations in check.
Extras start with a commentary by Nutter, which naturally talks about the problems he had with the studio and goes into detail regarding the production. Twenty five minutes of deleted scenes are included, which offer an idea of where the movie would have gone had Nutter had final cut. Out of the film, they’re a little weird to watch but it’s nice to have them here.
Disturbing Behavior will never be mentioned in the same breath as something like Scream, but it’s a solid 90s thriller that lays on the paranoia and keeps the shock quotient to a minimum. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray offers the best presentation of it yet on home video and the extras shed light on what film Nutter was trying to make. Recommended.