Theme Song: Some Asshole with A Piano.
Interesting Dated References: Nuclear waste deforming our children. In general this movie capitalizes on the nuclear hysteria of the early 80s. The Children is unique in the respect that it is more of a horror movie rather than a survivalist/post-apocalyptic thing.
Best Line: “Did you kill that kid you shot at?”
Social Context: Made at the height of nuclear scare films, The Children makes an effort to scare people about nuclear power plants in their backyard. This was an oft-debated issue in the 80s and the hysteria surrounding much of it was because of paranoia spread by movies like this. Of course this is a bit of an absurd take on the issue, but it no doubt stemmed from those concerns.
Summary: In Zion Illinois we had a nuclear power plant. It was active all throughout my childhood. When I have to watch nuclear scare movies, I get a little touchy. The Children is about a group of children who are exposed to a toxic gas from a nuclear power plant, after which they become killers.
The Children opens with the scene pictured below. First off, “Nuclear Generating Area”? What does that even mean? It’s like someone who didn’t understand the English language or how a nuclear power plant works made up some verbiage for a sign. Secondly, the building in the background is not even close to a nuclear power plant. You know what it looks like? That’s right, a coal power plant. A coal power plant is not a nuclear power plant.
Two lazy american workers don’t finish their job properly and instead decide to go “have a beer.” As a result, a toxic gas is released right as a school bus drives by and a few minutes later the sheriff arrives and finds the bus empty. He calls some people; they all act confused. Then a mother shows up looking for her child. She looks in the cemetery, finds the dead bus driver, and finds her child. Here’s where the action starts. She hugs her newly radioactive child and is instantly burned to a crisp. The nuclear gas gave the children black fingernails like goth kids. Hopefully the gas didn’t also give the kids the ability to write bad poetry and take shitty black and white photographs of nature.
As the sheriff goes around to the various parents in an attempt to locate the missing children, the director attempts a lampooning of the various parent-types of the 80s.
One of the first couples is the “mega-vain-yuppies,” represented here buy a guy who lifts weights, and his topless wife. In addition to this guy, the first mom who was killed was a women’s libber, independent type. There’s also a super-medicated mother type. They don’t get real in depth with these characterizations. In fact, they come off a little forced. As the sheriff goes around, he sends his cronies to set up a road block since the children are still technically missing. I guess this was billed as the comedic relief scene, since the three yokels bicker. Then a guy shows up and for some reason it is insinuated he is a wealthy producer on his way to town to visit Dinah Shore. Apparently Dinah Shore lives in the town. So one by one people are killed as the children return home. None of the other adults seem to notice the parents getting killed and continue to act as if they are searching for the missing children. Night descends, the sheriff starts finding all the dead bodies, but still can’t seem to figure out that it’s the children killing everyone.
After the sheriff and his friend run around for 45 minutes, they go home and find the story about the missing children on the local news. Seems logical. Then a woman knocks out the sheriff with a flower pot when he is shooting his gun at the children. The sheriff shoots a kid in the chest with a shotgun, then when the possessed kid gets up, the sheriff uses a samurai sword to cut off both of his hand. If you’re into violence aimed at children, this movie might be for you. So the sheriff and his friend run around town cutting off the hands of all the children. This sounds a lot more promising than it is, since most of the time it’s just them stumbling around in the dark with flashlights. Oh, but wait, the fucking sheriff goes nuts and hacks up the three remaining children. There sure is a lot more child murdering going on in this movie than I’m used to seeing. And they’re pretty open about it, too. Even though a few occur off screen, you get several good onscreen child murders. The closing scene shows the woman, now pregnant, driving through the fog while giving birth to a little goth baby with black fingernails. That means it isn’t over. But in actuality it is over because this movie was forgotten and never got the sequel treatment.
Poster and Box Art: The Children has a pretty creepy and well illustrated poster. Look at those faces.
Availability: The ever-shitty Troma company has released The Children on DVD. Typical of Troma, it’s a shitty transfer with horrible audio and full frame. Seriously, why would they bother to buy.steak the rights to these old movies and then release them in such terrible ways. They have no shame! Get this though, they had the nerve to call it a “remastered” edition! What a bunch of scam artists. Do yourself a favor, don’t buy the dvd, rather, search out a used VHS on eBay. At least then you’ll get a nicer print.