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Rated R
Copyright 1980 Albright Films
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 23 May 2001

The Characters:  

  • Sheriff Billy Hart - Resolute and independent man appointed to enforce the law in this remote section of New England. Maybe a little too independent, because calling the State Police barracks when you have a whole busload of kids missing would be prudent. Denied retirement when his flesh roasts off.
  • John - He lacks the fortitude required to chop up children with an axe, including his own, until he realizes two things: 1. They want to kill me. 2. College is going to be expensive by 1990.
  • Cathy - John's pregnant wife who gets my nomination for "Worst Mom in this Film," though it was a close race. Maybe apologizing to your unborn child for smoking is pointless.
  • Dr. Gould - Must be an honorary degree bestowed upon her by the townsfolk for owning the only copy of "Gray's Anatomy" in the county. She really shouldn't wear a bikini, especially after being roasted alive.
  • Molly - Owner of the town general store who does double duty as the radio dispatcher and triple duty as a charred corpse.
  • Harry - Goofy deputy who helps Billy when he is not bedding the farmer's daughter. Somebody please teach this deputy about statutory rape (I think she was supposed to be that young). Oops, hold that thought, he dies.
  • The Shore Family, Leslie, Fred, Susie, and others - Fried, fried, fried, fried, and fried!
  • The Children - Turned into killing monsters by a cloud of gas that escaped from a nearby nuclear plant. Sent back to the hell that spawned them by Billy and John's grisly efforts.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

When workers at the local nuclear plant decide the local bar just won't wait, even if some gauges are being wacky, we know bad things are going to happen. Hoodlums are going to set off yellow smoke grenades! No, that's not right. Leaking pipes are going to release some sort of strange gas into the air! That's the ticket! Anyway, this brightly colored blanket of noxious fumes somehow escapes the notice of any neighbors before moving on.

The cloud of gas is carried along by brisk winds and just happens to engulf a bus bringing schoolchildren home in Ravensback. Sheriff Hart finds the empty bus, still running, but neither the driver nor passengers are in sight. He then begins nonchalantly driving around and asking people if they have seen anything. Pretty odd reaction, you would think he might get on the radio right away. Be advised that the radios are largely forgotten by any of the characters during this film. Do not make the mistake of thinking that he is looking for a Dunkin' Donuts either. Billy could lose a couple pounds and still outweigh me, but that bulk is undoubtedly cornbread, dumplings, and mutton.

Arriving at the town general store, our unflappable lawman deputizes two of the least responsible people available. Hank and Frank drive out to the Interstate and set up a roadblock, then start passing around a bottle of hooch. An obvious good judgment call by the sheriff there. He turns a blind eye to several indiscretions while driving around though, whether it be Mrs. Shore toking on a joint while they talk or poached fowl being sold to Molly.

Indifference must be contagious, because none of the yokels have noticed that their kids are several hours late in returning from school. Hard to swallow at the least. Come to think of it, we're already choking on the fact that all the phones are out. Better hurry up and get the appetizer down, I've another whole plateful coming.

Ravensback's children have been turned into deadly killers by the contaminated cloud! With wane complexions and black fingernails they are seeking out and killing anyone they can find. Mere contact with those soiled hands causes flesh to crisp and peel away from the body! Unfortunately we all know what adults do upon finding a lost child; they sweep them into a reassuring hug. In this case that means agonizing death as third degree burns cover every inch of the victim's body. Luckily being broiled does not affect clothing, even something flammable like polyester. The next owner might have a big dry cleaning bill on their hands, but your leisure suit will be un-scorched (just remember to take it off before going in the sauna).

Along with devilish powers of molecular agitation, the cute little youngsters gained invulnerability to most physical harm. Sheriff Hart saves John's life (although he will not be using that hand any time soon), but is horrified when the monsters keep coming despite his blazing pistol. Fortune shines upon our helpless adults when Billy grabs a replica samurai sword from the wall and chops off one child's hands, killing it instantly.

Okay, sure. The wild card mutation gave them the power to incinerate flesh and moved all their vital organs to an extremity. Armed with hacking instruments, the two men go out to the barn (for some reason the kids congregated out there) and chop off all the children's hands. Isaac Hayes is nowhere in sight.

The acting was not awful, but a few times I wanted to stuff one of the offending thespians into a car trunk. Most of the cars in the movie were enormous, so several actors could probably fit in the sheriff's alone. Mainly you should watch it for the sheer ludicrous premise. Two grown men chopping off children's hands! Were you not Catholic that would still be something to use a confessional for.

PS: If you didn't see the "Gotcha" ending coming then you need a stick and canine companion.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Nuclear power plant's safety and maintenance crews are comprised of rednecks; two of them.
  • Finding an empty school bus, apparently abandoned in a hurry, will not worry a police officer.
  • Being a good parent involves codeine.
  • There are times when hugging your kid is the wrong thing to do.
  • Shooting a broiled dog is just as effective, if not more so, than beating a dead horse.
  • Playing tag with a mutant is a game of life and death.
  • Kids come apart easier than boiled chicken.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 1 min - And the scaffolding carries the scene.
  • 6 mins - You bunch of little suck-ups!
  • 30 mins - Go around her. What is so difficult about this simple solution to your traffic problem?
  • 39 mins - It must get dark really fast where they live.
  • 51 mins - Billy has to be three or four times her weight. Granted, she can burn him to a cinder, but he doesn't know that yet.
  • 69 mins - Oh sure, it'll go away eventually. What do you think this is? Chickenpox?
  • 74 mins - Is the person in charge of lighting on strike? Pay the man his wages so that we can all see the movie.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note thechildren1.wav Harry: "Molly, come in."
Molly: "Yeah Harry?"
Harry: "I found the kids!"
Molly: "Thank the Lord! Are they all right?"
Harry: "They look scared is all."
Green Music Note thechildren2.wav John: "Billy, when you fired, did you hit that kid?"
Billy: "Yeah, I couldn't have missed him."
John: "You must've."
Billy: "I don't see how!"
Green Music Note thechildren3.wav Cathy: "The children! Have you both gone mad? He was shooting the children!"
Green Music Note thechildren4.wav Billy: "Bullets have no effect on them. John, we've got to cut off their hands! That's where they're vulnerable!"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipthechildren1.mpg - 2.5m
Kids always burn the first few meals they try to prepare. Mom was supposed to be cooked at four hundred for sixty minutes, then baste again and add the remainder to the pan.

Aww forget it. Ouch. Ouch I say!

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 ... 5
The Children
Reply #1. Posted on December 17, 2001, 05:56:22 PM by Chadzilla
The movie scared me when I was a kid as well, saw it on the big screen, on a double with Terror Train.  Oh how I lament the loss of low budget schlock in the theater - the one and only drawback to home video.
The Children
Reply #2. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Porn_Angel
i saw this movie when i was little, and i remember explicitly that in the tv guide, it described a "strange yellow cloud."  because i used exactly that phrase to convince my parents that i should see it.  well i did see it, and i was so SORRY!  but i was like, 6, so i was mostly sorry because it scared me.  don't laugh, it was 20 years ago!  but i was So scared, and the gotcha ending made me cry  i think it was the first time i had ever seen such a movie, and i was so scarred and trumatized for life, that i can't stop watching them now.  *wonders where she can rent this lil gem*
The Children
Reply #3. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by David Fullam
For better or worse, I really miss the days of the regional, low budget, independant Horror film. Something is seriously wrong when you can't see great bad movies like this one on the big screen anymore. The same film makers would reunite years later to make "Luther the Geek," another weird little film. Lets hope that both get a DVD release one day, it's been too long since I have seen either.  
The Children
Reply #4. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Steve Bentley
I have to agree with both of the above...this movie scared the daylights out of me when I was a kid, and I, too, lament the passing of the drive-in/regional horror film.  I don't know about a dvd release, but I believe you can rent this turkey at most any rentrak store (these are often the mom & pop neighborhood stores that Blockbuster and Hollywood keep putting out of business).  It seems to be a requirement that they have either this, or a movie called RETURN OF THE ALIENS - DEADLY SPAWN, which by the way is another must-see!  I wasn't aware that these were the same folks who made LUTHER, though...Thanks for adding to my store of hopelessly useless bad movie trivia.  One day I'm gonna right a book...
The Children
Reply #5. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Brandi
Interesting bit of trivia: Cathy, the pregnant mom, is played by Gale Garnett, who voiced the babelicious Francesca in Mad Monster Party, and also inflicted the rather goopy popsong "We'll Sing in the Sunshine" upon the world...
The Children
Reply #6. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by WellDonePlease
A great movie. I was working as a projectionist at the drive-in in the summer of 1980 and got to run this for a week of showings. I saw this again recently and noticed all the homosexual/lesbian content. It's obvious Dr. Gould is a raging dyke what with her piano playing partner and her obvious distaste for men, in this case the sheriff. Also note the 2 gay guys stopped at the roadblock and wanting to pass through into ravensback. I hear this will be coming out on DVD soon.
The Children
Reply #7. Posted on August 24, 2001, 03:26:07 PM by Gary
I like this movie it is cool. How five kids turn into unemotional zombies who trick you into hugging them so they can kill you! Their evil eyes and pale complexions and black fingernails with the burning edge are scary. There should have been another boy. They killed the kids off too fast. This movie was in 1980, 2 years before I was born.
The Children
Reply #8. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Jimmy
I remember when this movie first came out and just the advertisement scared me!  I think it was back in January of 1981 that it appeared on cable on Showtime's After Hours.  Seeing it today one would find it hard to believe that it would be considered a movie that cable would only show at night, but then again that was back in the early 80's.  But I did not see it until years later when it was on USA and edited for television.  I actually remember having a nightmare before I even saw it!  My nightmare was actually scarier then the movie!!  If anyone knows if this movie can be downloaded off the internet, please let me know.  I would like to get a copy of it.  I have checked a few video stores and no one seems to have it.  Overall, even though this movie may seem cheesy today, it sure did scare the hell out of me as a kid!  Maybe one of these days we will see a remake of the film or even a sequel.
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