The Children (1980) (BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW)
DIRECTED BY: Max Kalmanowicz
STARRING: Martin Shakar, Gil Rogers, Gale Garnett
RATED: UR/REGION O/1:85/1080P/NUMBER OF DISCS 2
AVAILABLE FROM Vinegar Syndrome
Something is terrifyingly wrong with the children of Ravenback. After their school bus passes through a mysterious cloud of yellow smoke, the children are transformed into bloodthirsty zombies with black fingernails which burn anything they touch. As parents and unwitting townspeople are burned to a crisp, the local police force frantically searches for the missing kids, unaware of their new and deadly powers…
The Children, a movie most of you might remember from the old Troma DVD release of it, has come to Blu-ray thanks to Vinegar Syndrome. If you’ve never seen it before, basically a toxic smoke cloud turns a school bus full of kids into zombies and then they go on a roaring rampage of killing the grown folks all the while having black fingernails and dark rings under their eyes. Hey, I never did say it was the most effect-heavy looking zombie flick you’d ever see, but The Children packs a heck of an atmosphere and mood and can be a really good time despite its faults and trust me it does pack a few faults. As sick as I might sound for saying it, the real kicker here and the most fun you might have in this one is when the people have to fight back and start taking these little brats out. An act that was pretty unheard of to see at the time of this movie’s release. So, we got some happy kids riding a bus in a small town. They are singing lovely songs about the bus driver until they enter a yellow smoke cloud (what the heck is it actually?), then next thing you know, the sheriff and his small crew are trying to find these little bastards, only for the children to now have come sorta zombies that nuke everyone they touch. Now, I won’t lie, if the wrong person watches this they could very well hate it. It is weird, there isn’t much in the way of plot development, and it can be sluggish. Me on the other hand, I realize all these things and still really dig the flick overall, despite the flaws. Hell, maybe the flaws make me like it just a bit more overall. I figured heading into this I’d be seeing a movie that could fit into the old “so bad that it is good” category and that was exactly what I got with The Children.
This odd 1980s film fits about any definition you might find for a midnight movie. The look of the old DVD transfer might even have made you feel as if you mistaken walked into some sticky-floored grindhouse theater, not that it is either here nor there with this release because it looks great for once, but that is the vibe this movie brings. You get ideas of what might be going on, but you never really are told, point for point. I don’t mind that and feel some of the most strange and interesting horror films I have seen are a lot like that. There is also plenty of funny moments here. I’m unsure if they were planned or just sort of happened, but some stuff here really did end up making me laugh. All in all that makes for a fun and campy horror film. Not that I’d expect anything less coming from a Troma release, but at least it turned out to be about as good as I had hoped that it would be. Not for everyone, but for those you do enjoy this stuff, you should love it.
– Region free Blu-ray/DVD combo
– Newly scanned & restored in 2k from a combination of its 35mm original camera negative and best surviving 35mm theatrical prints.
– New audio commentary with director Max Kalmanowicz
– Archival audio commentary with producer/co-writer Carlton J. Albright
– “Childhood Memories: Making the Children” – a new interview with Carlton J. Albright & production manager David Platt
– “Return to Ravensback” – a newly produced locations then-and-now featurette
– “The Lost Scene” – audio from a lost scene of The Children
– Archival video interview with Carlton J. Albright
– “Memories of The Children” – archival featurette with: Carlton J. Albright, Patricia Albright & Gil Rogers
– “Making The Children” – archival featurette with: Carlton J. Albright & David Platt
– “The Children: The Musical” – archival interview with Stan Richardson, co-creator of the musical rendition of The Children
– Reversible cover artwork
– English SDH subtitles
Quality of Transfer: 97%