FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 17, 2023

Day 17 - "You just shot a dead dog."

O reader mine, forgive me if today's post comes off as a bit scattered ("When don't your posts come off as scattered?" -- You, probably), but yesterday I done got myself (double) vassinated so I can be around you heifers and it went as it always does: "This time, I will emerge from this unscathed!" I think to myself. A sore arm, no bigs. Then about 12 hours later, Lady Moderna makes her presence known and proceeds to whip my ass for a few days. Last night was The Chills portion of the Lady Moderna Revue, wherein the inside of my body felt the way the foil wrapper on a piece of Wrigley's Spearmint gum used to smell. Then there was the shaking so hard I thought my bones would shatter and my teeth would turn to dust. Very exciting! 

Side note, looking up Wrigley's Spearmint gum to make sure it was the one that had the white outer wrapper, I see that it is no longer in production due to declining sales. While I suppose I am at least partially to blame for that as I have never bought any, it still elicited an "aww dang" from me because my gramma used to love that shit! It's strange, isn't it, how the most inconsequential things can take on such sudden significance? How our memories are a--ehhhh. Before I go any further in that direction, let's get back to the SHOCKtobernanigans. I thought my more-addled-than-usual spearmint brain state was the perfect time to revisit a film I haven't seen in forever, a film that two--yes, two!--people chose as a favorite back in 2020. 

Yes, perfect. As I lay on the couch like a shivering loaf, The Children greeted me (slowly, arms extended) and demanded nothing. Of course, I knew what was going to happen in the movie so I wasn't exactly in suspense. But more so, The Children demands nothing of anyone. There is no mystery, and as a viewer you will not be tasked with figuring things out or wondering why something happens. Drips from a leaky nuclear power plant cause a big, toxic green-brown cloud (just like my mother-in-law does after we dine at Chipotle, amirite??) (I'm so sorry, I should have taken today off). A school bus drives through the cloud. The children on the bus become goth zombies: their fingernails turn black and they can set you on fire by touching you. They hug their way through the bucolic New England town of Ravensback, a-squeezin' and a-meltin' everyone along the way.

There's a lot to love about this movie, not the least of which is that it's pretty hardcore, albeit in a kind of...I don't know, a gentle way? These kids will take out anyone: moms, dads, dogs, uninfected children...they don't care, they just want to kill! But everything happens so slowly, and these are kids after all. So the carnage, such as it is, is literally just walk--hug--sizzle. Melted folks sure are gross and there's a shitton of violence against children throughout the film, but it's okay because, uh, you know, the kids are chopped up out of frame and there's no blood. While in theory it's all fairly tasteless (as expected from a Troma film, no?), the approach makes it come off as virtually quaint.

The pace really does start to drag around the hour mark, driving home that The Children is about 15 minutes worth of story stretched out to 90. When he comes across the empty school bus idling in the road, the sheriff decides to visit everyone in town rather than actually looking for the missing children and bus driver. Then we travel around to all the same stops again as the children do their thing, then again as the bodies are discovered, and so on. 20 of the last 30 minutes seems to consist of the sheriff and local dad John slowly walking through a house and barn in search of the li'l huggers; maybe it's just me speaking as the zoomer I am, but yowza, there was a lot of nothing at times.

The nothing, at least, was livened up some by Harry Manfredini's score, which is nothing if not a rough draft for his work on Friday the 13th. And the citizenry of Ravensback, one of those idyllic towns where everybody knows everybody, are a delightfully bizarre bunch. From the uber twat Dr Gould (who keeps her...daughter? live-in patient? zoned out on codeine) to the waitress who just wants a date with the sheriff to the pot-smoking, bodybuilding couple to Sanford Butler-Jones (who needs no introduction), it's fun to get a glimpse of their stories before they're charbroiled by the children.

Well, hopefully Lady Moderna will loosen her grip and my brain fog will clear up soon, lest I be transformed into a black-fingernailed goth--or should I say gother--zombie. But if you see me shambling slowly towards you, arms outstretched, calling "readerrrr!!" don't worry and don't shy away. My hugs feel like the way Wrigley's Spearmint smells, I promise.


Steve K said...

Any thoughts on how awesome a The Children (1980) / The Children (2008) double bill would be?

Stacie Ponder said...

It would be rather enjoyable, if watched in chronological order. I'm always down for sallow-eyed murderous children, the more the merrier

James Lewis said...

I like watching The Children as broadcast on USA Network's Commander USA's Groovie God intended.

Stacie Ponder said...

*hi-five* It's absolutely made for that kind of thing. Surely Elvira showed it on Movie Macabre? That'd be another perfect fit.

raserned said...

I looked for this movie since I saw the commercial once as a wee child, then confusing it with Children Of The Damned. Which also slaps but I was left wanting... where's the school bus? When I finally saw it a year ago it NOT DISAPPOINT!

Stacie Ponder said...

I don't care how many times it happened, the sequence


never got old!

Me said...

I did a podcast segment on this article