Horror Movie Review: The Children (1980)

From writers Carlton J. Albright and Edward Terry, and director Max Kalmanowicz, comes The Children (also known as The Children of Ravensback). A cheesy horror that has some entertainment value, but is far too slow, and far too unexciting to be anything but forgettable.

Starring Martin Shakar, Gil Rogers, and Gale Garnett, The Children surrounds a group of children who are on a school bus as it drives though a chemical leak caused by the nearby nuclear plant. If this wasn’t silly enough, it transforms the kids into soulless zombie-like creatures that really want a hug. However, you really don’t want to hug them back, as their grasp is akin to nuclear radiation and instant death for anyone.

As the body count starts to rise, and no-one seems to know where the bus full of kids disappeared to, it’s up to Sheriff Billy and local resident John, whose daughter was on the bus, to find out what is going on and stop the toxic huggers.

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It’s a dumb as f**k story that screams pure cheese, and it is, but it’s caught between two different eras and two different mindsets that ruins much of the fun. Having a serious tone regarding children that are beyond saving and the nuclear fears of a generation. While also having the absurd creativity of the 80s, where any idea could be turned into something horrific.

As much as The Children wants the viewer to take it seriously, it’s really difficult, especially as the acting of all these children is really bad. A lot of it isn’t their fault though, as you can tell they were given next to no direction, and their awkwardness shows this. It also applies to the adults, who spend so much of the film treading water, waiting for things to really ramp up, so they can behave appropriately. Again, this also results in awkward moments and tedious dialogue that brings the film to a juddering halt.

A good cast was always going to be a problem with, what is clearly, a low-budget offering even for its time. Something that extends even further into the effects, which are quite poor even for 1980. It’s hard to describe just what the burned victims look like, except to say, that it involved dumping a load of gooey bits on their faces and hands. It’s the kind of effect that we would have been better off not seeing clearly, even if that would mean the film has even less going for it.

The cheese that emanates from the movie is the only thing that really gives The Children any entertainment value as it sticks to its absurd storyline rigidly. However, this is not enough to make it a recommended watch.


  • Carl Fisher

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The Children (1980)
  • The Final Score - 3.5/10
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