The Children

Wicked Wednesday: The Children (1980)

If being in lockdown all these weeks has taught me anything it’s this: children are the worst*.

Our neighbours have two young beings and they’re truly…something else. One ‘plays’ the piano by literally bashing the crap out of it while the other one throws twice-daily tantrums! Would love to say that they’re like three or something, but they’re not. To all the parents out there currently homeschooling their little ones – I salute you.

So Monday morning the eldest ‘creative’ discovered the church organ setting on their electric piano. God bless us all. While laying in bed at 7 a.m. to the haunting sounds of a drunk child organist, I recalled reading the Creepy Kids chapter in Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell.

We love creepy kids in horror. Or we love to fear creepy kids. From the Satanic spawns Rosemary’s baby and Damien Thorn to the doomed Gage Creed and Sadako Yamamura – they’re staples of the genre.

The Children¬†has a wonderful cast of creepy tykes. Perhaps a bit more hilarious than any mentioned before them, but I still wouldn’t want to cross these kids in a dark alley.

As any good 80s slasher begins, this story starts in a chemical plant. When two negligent workers leave early, a pipe begins leaking toxic gas into the area. When a local school bus drives through the cloud of chemicals, the children on the bus turn from gleeful to ghoulish.

Sheriff Hart is your standard good-doing, well-loved sheriff. When he discovers the school bus empty in the middle of the road, he takes it upon himself to start investigating.

Unbeknown to him, the children are hiding in the cemetery ready to wreck havoc on the world. Their little, sweet faces are still as normal, but their hugs have turned nuclear. As the sheriff runs about town tracking down all the parents, the children go about hugging everyone to death. Seemingly no one can out run or resist them.

When Hart realises his deputy and dispatcher are both dead, he teams up John, one of the missing children’s father. They soon find little Janet knocking about. She’s yet to turn, and unaware of the state of the other children, pick her up in the car. They discover how dangerous she is, though, once she turns in to a zombie in the back of the squad car.

The only way to get rid of the girl is by cutting off her hands. So with only the two of them and a very-pregnant wife, the adults must defend themselves against the tiny terrors. And by sun rise, surely the terror is over, right?

The Children is one of those movies than definitely deserve the “fun” tag. Zombie children that microwave you to death with their hugs? Wild! The children here are truly creepy, which creates some fanatically spooky scenes. But other parts of the story made me literally guffaw. Was it the intention of the film? I think (hope) so because some of these scenes are absolutely iconic. There are also a lot of illusions to¬†Night of the Living Dead’s Karen, which are pretty fun touches.

It does get a touch repetitive and go one for a bit too long. There’s perhaps not enough material in the movie for it to be 90 minutes. It was probably a mistake of the plot to keep everyone separated and their deaths mostly off-screen. That being said, though, there is plenty of joy to be found in the wackiness that is The Children.

*Except for my nephews, that is. Best two humans in the world.