The Children (1980)

Article 2756 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-23-2008
Posting Date: 2-28-2009
Directed by Max Kalmanowicz
Featuring Martin Shakar, Gil Rogers, Gale Garnett
Country: USA

A leak at a nuclear power plant causes children to become zombies with the abiliy to kill with a touch.

I like the first twenty minutes of this variation of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD best. At this point, the sense of mystery is quite strong (a school bus is left running on the side of the road with the driver and children nowhere in sight) and the movie introduces several interesting small-town characters, and these two things caught my attention. Unfortunately, the first actual attack struck me as more comic than scary, and from this moment onward the movie’s effectiveness went down the tubes. For me, the worst problem was that no one seemed to put any thought in the inner reality of the monsters; they just kill because they’re monsters (whereas Romero’s zombies killed out of hunger, for example), and when they stand around with their arms outstretched, it just seems like the director told them to “act like monsters”. No explanation is given why only children are affected, why it takes one child a while to turn into a zombie whereas for the others it must have been almost instantaneous, etc. – quite frankly, it looks like it was being made up while it was written. Oh, it has its moments before it’s all over, but I didn’t find it anywhere near as scary as it wanted to be. And the protracted final twist after the rest of the movie is over both obvious and tiresome.

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