Halloween Scene: The Children (1980)

The Children was one of probably a hundred horror movies I added to my Netflix instant queue just because it’s a horror movie. This has lead to me watching the first 10 minutes of plenty of shitty movies. Luckily, The Children proved to be pretty good, even with the Troma logo on the DVD box. Don’t worry, this isn’t an actual Troma production but one of the movies they distributed. The plot revolves around a school bus full of children which passes through a cloud of radiative gas that turns them into skin-melting zomboids. But the filmmakers were pretty smart and didn’t just follow the kids as they wander around and kill/melt people. Instead, the bus shows up empty which gets the local law enforcement first trying to figure out what happened to the kids and then trying to figure out what to do with them once they realize what these kids are actually doing (usually killing their parents). I appreciate that the filmmakers didn’t try to go too far out of their depth given their clearly low budget. The filmstock itself definitely looks like that of a low budget 80s horror movie and the actors, while not pros, all seemed pretty believable to me. But, kind of like the shark in Jaws, the kids aren’t front and center until the end of the movie. Plus, the story isn’t a big, global story, but a very self contained one. This is just something happening in a small town and better yet, the kids don’t seem to be creating more of themselves like your traditional zombie. Plus, there’s a nice little tag shot at the end that might imply that things aren’t as cut and dried as they seem. Plus it takes place after a really cool montage of shots of the victims from the movie while a new mother sings to her baby. It’s very creepy and sort of reminded me of the opening of The Stepfather.

A few things of note. I’m sure some people might shy away from killer kid movies, especially ones where they end up getting killed, but the filmmakers handled it pretty well, with most of the explicit killer kid killing taking place offscreen. Do know that some of them get chopped up pretty good with a machete. Again, you see the chopping action, but not the knife hitting the actual kids. You do see some of the pieces in the ending montage I mentioned. Also, this is not the 2008 British movie also called The Children. At first I thought the later movie was a remake, but it’s not. I think this one would be prime for a remake in the vein of The Crazies, a movie I know I’ve seen but can’t remember much of. A big budget remake would probably shy away even more from the whole violence against (evil) kids theme, but even a smaller budget remake with a couple sick actors would be a nice improvement on an already pretty good movie.

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