Scan courtesy of Paul over at VHS Collector, hence the watermark.
1980's The Children was distributed on DVD by Troma. Before you grimace, Lloyd Kaufman and associates had nothing to do with the production of the film. This was just an acquisition, similar to 1990's Luther the Geek. My, what a coincidence! The Children was co-written by Carlton Albright, writer/director of Luther the Geek. It's almost as if I knew that or something. The other co-writer's name was Edward Terry (I suppose it still is), and he also had a hand in bringing the metal-dentured Luther to life; he played him! I'm getting ahead of myself. This is one of those "small town" fright flicks where even the convenient store clerk knows every detail of the Stevenson girl's menstruation cycle or the friar's...er, menstruation cycle.
I had fun with it. It's fucking stupid. The plot has more holes in it than the stuffed animals in your reclusive cousin's closet. There is a miasmatic gas leak emanating from a nuclear plant and it has created a crawling cloud of effluvia that consumes an isolated road. You gotta watch out for that effluvia. Shit's nasty! Anyway, it sneaks up on a school bus. When Sheriff Hart discovers the transport vehicle sitting diagonally, he boards to investigate. The children? Gone. The driver? Gone. If I were in his shoes, my heart would sink, but I would remain professional enough to "call it in." Heh, listen to me spout off official police terminology. I'm a regular Barney Fife. Where's my bullet?
So Hart doesn't call it in. Doesn't. Does not. He drives to the home of a parent and asks if Kid A (overrated record, by the way) has arrived yet. The Sheriff of the Year takes the aunt (the mother is ill, if I recall correctly) to the school bus to retrieve the child's supplies. She doesn't seem to be terribly worried. None of the legal guardians panic over the fact that a bindle of neighborhood youngsters have disappeared into thin goddamn air. The main mama that The Children chooses to focus on shows concern, but I wouldn't call it panic. I don't know why I'm writing so much about the storyline. Again, it's stupid. The kids are radioactive zombies. But fuck it; I dug what I was watching. It has that inexplicable drive-in charm.
It's worth noting that The Children was probably the first genre clump to depict brute violence against children (on-screen, that is). Pretty cool, huh? It's not quite as extreme as Beware! Children at Play, but there are plenty of gunshot wounds. Oh, and severed hands. On the acting front, I was pleasantly surprised. There are no outright embarrassments. The make-up effects range from gruesome to gardyloo. That's to be expected, especially with cinematic scum. I'm treating The Children unfairly. Apparently, it hatched ducats at the box office, a feat atypical of scum (well, b-scum). What's my favorite plot hole? They never find or mention the bus driver. Wouldn't he have been affected by the gas in the same way? There should be another zombie lurking in Ravensback.
Stupid shit. I recommend it!