The Children (1980)

The Children (1980) movie poster

director Max Kalmanowicz
viewed: 01/22/2016

Ah, low budget horror cinema with regional flavor.  The title presentation has the quality of a back of the high school notebook doodle of an Iron Maiden logo to it.  You don’t get more genuine and low budget than that.

If you like such stuff, you’d have a hard time not liking The Children, which tells the story of a school bus of kids (only 5 of them) that comes out the other side of a toxic cloud as zombies(ish) with tell-tale black fingernails and a nuclear microwave touch (usually delivered via “hugs”.)

There is something extremely weird about how everybody in the film acts.  Nobody does anything resembling anything remotely logical or realistic.  The cop in charge of the small town (Gil Rogers) is pretty tight-lipped about the odd disappearance of five children and a bus driver.  The first parent he seeks out acts as if the sheriff is a scumbag and coddles her strange piano-playing daughter.  Then there is the couple who are sunbathing and flexing and making jokes about the sheriff being a pedophile.  There is no rhyme nor reason here, just oddities upon oddities.

For all its amateurity, the children themselves have moments of eeriness, stepping in and out of shadows and mulling about strangely.  And the FX/make-up of the burn victims is actually pretty cool.

The film verges at times pretty close to “so bad it’s good” territory, but that would be only one aspect of the movie’s odd charms.

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