IMDb > Bloody Kids (1980) (TV) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb

Reviews & Ratings for
Bloody Kids (TV) More at IMDbPro »

Filter: Hide Spoilers:
Index 10 reviews in total 

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A vision of a lost generation?

8/10
Author: graham_525 from United Kingdom
5 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's difficult to know how to assess this film. There are parts that deserve a 10 star rating and parts that barely deserve 1 star. I saw this film once when I was about 9 years old and it had a huge impact on me at the time. Having just watched it as a 37 year old I can understand why although I barely remembered anything about it.

The story is quite simple. It starts with a car crash. Leo, an 11 year old boy watches the aftermath of the police clearing up the mess. From one of the police cars he steals a policeman's hat. The next day he shows the hat to his friend Mike at school. The hat is stolen from them by an older boy who throws the it onto the school roof. Leo and Mike find their way onto the roof to recover the hat. On the roof Leo offers to give the hat to Mike if he will take part in a practical joke. Specifically Mike has to pretend to stab Leo in a staged fight outside of a football match. Leo acquires some fake blood from the school drama department to make the stabbing look real. However during the practical joke Mike accidentally stabs Leo for real or possibly Leo pulls the knife into himself on purpose. We never find out which is the truth. Leo is taken to hospital and Mike goes on the run. The rest of the film concerns the rather bizarre interaction between Leo and the police who come to question him and the even more bizarre situations that Mike gets himself into.

There is a great deal about this film that doesn't make much sense and it's hard to get inside the motivations of the characters. Exactly why Leo wants to stage his own fake stabbing isn't at all clear. Even the character of Mike asks him in the film why they are doing it to which Leo doesn't give much of an explanation. The way the police hang around the hospital for hours doesn't make much sense either. While on the run Mike runs into a rather nihilistic character called Ken who takes Mike to a night club. Later Ken steals a car and takes Mike joy riding. Ken is another character whose behaviour was very hard to understand. Exactly what his interest is in hanging around with an 11 year old boy on the run isn't exactly apparent. Why Ken almost commits suicide later by jumping off of the roof of a bus can only be described as baffling.

There was much in this film that seemed unnecessary and the whole film would have benefited from being considerably shorter. For example I wasn't at all sure why the whole scene in the Chinese restaurant was included. Again the motivation of the characters was also confusing. Ken takes Mike for a meal he doesn't have the money to pay for. He then walks out without eating any of it leaving Mike on his own. Mike manages to escape through the kitchens and Ken picks him up outside in the stolen car. The whole scene can again only be described as baffling.

Having said all that there are some fantastic elements to this film. Visually some of it was very beautiful. The scene of the two boys on the school roof was exquisitely shot. The overall atmosphere of the film is odd and unnerving. It portrays a frightening after dark urban landscape in which a disaffected youth run wild. Of all the characters Leo in particular is unsettling. He is able to lie with total ease to anyone including the police and speaks with the articulacy of an adult. There are very few moments in the film where he shows any emotion at all and yet there is a sense that there is something quite disturbing going on under the surface. It seems initially that Leo has deeply betrayed Mike be telling the police a stack of lies and putting all the blame onto him. However at the end the two boys remain friends. Leo explains that he did it to give Mike what he wanted. We can only assume he thinks Mike wanted to feel dangerous and enjoyed being chased by the police. It's hard to interpret this film in any one simplistic way however.

A hugely important element of this film was the music score. It has to be said that it was fantastic and inspired. Much of it was of a very emotionally intense thriller/horror genre. However the truly inspired aspect was setting much of the film to spaghetti western music that wouldn't have sounded out of place in a Sergio Leone movie. It gave the film a very dramatic and exciting feel. There doesn't seem to be any obvious reason for using this music but it works perfectly.

The final scene of the two boys walking through the chaos they have caused in the hospital by setting off the fire alarm is quite breath taking. The ending shot is of both of them lighting up a cigarette and staring off detachedly into the distance completely unconcerned about any of the trouble they have caused. Leo had already explained to Mike that as 11 year old boys they would get away with it all.

Exactly what the message this film was trying to give isn't at all clear but I have to say for all it's faults it's a genuinely unique film. Bloody Kids reminds us that all the fears that we have about modern youth in Britain today are hardly new and although dated in style it is as relevant today as it was then.

Was the above review useful to you?

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"We can do anything"

7/10
Author: Ali Catterall from London, England
5 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Originally made for television, Bloody Kids (aka One Joke Too Many) emerged from an era of gritty, state-of-the-nation British film and TV dramas such as Scum, Meantime and its near-namesake, London Weekend Television's 'Kids', also from 1979.

Stephen Poliakoff's debut screenplay comes furnished with a more esteemed roster than most - director Stephen Frears, producer Barry Hanson (The Naked Civil Servant, The Long Good Friday), cinematographer Chris Menges (Kes, Babylon, The Killing Fields) - and, though thematically typical of the period, departs from the norm with its more experimental approach, imbued with hyper-real stylings which owe more to European art cinema and American noir than kitchen sink verite.

Filmed entirely on location in Essex, Bloody Kids opens on a downbeat tableau - the aftermath of some dreadful traffic accident in the middle of the night, a portent of the foreboding, near-hallucinatory atmosphere the film maintains to the unsettlingly ambiguous finish.

The slender premise springs from the actions of two listless 11-year-old young boys, the cold, manipulative Leo (Thomas) and his weaker, more impressionable friend Mike (Clark). Contemptuous of the fallible police force (Mike has already filched a police helmet from the accident scene), the boys arrange a staged knife fight outside a football stadium with the aid of a bag of stage blood and a real blade.

As Leo orders the less-than-convinced Mike, "You drop the penknife and run. The police will come and question me, and then they'll find out it's all a joke." Won't they be angry, asks Mike? "They haven't got the time," shrugs Leo. Then, chillingly, "We're too young, you see. We can do anything." When Leo is accidentally stabbed for real (the split blood-bags underfoot making a cackling mockery of the situation), Mike legs it, still assuming it's part of the joke, and Leo is taken to hospital.

Though Leo recovers quickly, he becomes seduced by the lies he tells detective Ritchie (O'Connor). "Mike's a bit weird you see, sometimes he talks about killing people... I've seen weird things he's drawn." While on the run Mike is 'adopted' by new-wave-styled reprobate Ken (Gary Holton of 'Auf Wiedersehen, Pet' fame) who, impressed by his little charge's fresh notoriety ("you're going to be quite famous for a brief moment"), takes him on a joyride through town - and it's here where Bloody Kids comes unstuck.

The introduction of the magnetic, gobby Holton fatally unbalances the film, with the London actor dominating every scene he's in. Car-jacking, shop window-smashing Ken is also a conduit for Poliakoff to explore the seamier face of the late 1970s, where entropy is the disorder of the day, teens meander lifelessly in their death discos, and past their sell-by-date punks straggle blankly through the chaos.

Everywhere, everyone is bored beyond belief, ripped from their emotional moorings. Detective Ritchie, too, can barely summon up the effort to spend a few quality moments with his wife (familiar face Geraldine James). The only illumination comes from ghastly neon strobes spearing the night, as surveillance cameras keep a dispassionate, Orwellian watch over all, the sense of voyeurism heightened by the ubiquitous television sets beaming out images of cops and robbers, a banal parallel of the events being played out on the streets for real.

Ideally, Bloody Kids would be scored exclusively by Joy Division - the entirety of 1979's 'Unknown Pleasures' should more than suffice (It would certainly be preferable to the bizarrely inappropriate one by the film's composer George Fenton, which resembles something out of a Django western and was oddly nominated for a BAFTA.) Poliakoff is so concerned to ladle on the nihilism with a black-handled trowel that the boys' central dilemma - actually more troubling and worthy of exploration than this latter-day Bosch vision - soon falls by the wayside.

Nevertheless, the two young leads are excellent, Thomas in particular. Easily the more damaged of the pair (in both senses), Leo's a smart, golden-haired cherub with the chilly, unblinking gaze of a Great White, his casual defacing of his school corridor with a marker pen (indelible, he blithely assures a teacher) being symptomatic of his utter disdain for authority. "You seem to seep into every corner of the school," the teacher tells him, "like the smells from a cafeteria." More uncomfortably, in Leo and Mike we might also see future echoes of two other emotionally damaged boys who, like our juvenile screen pair, were also once picked up on a CCTV camera, leading a trusting toddler through a shopping centre.

Was the above review useful to you?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"We can do anything"

7/10
Author: Ali_Catterall from London, England
5 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Originally made for television, Bloody Kids (aka One Joke Too Many) emerged from an era of gritty, state-of-the-nation British film and TV dramas such as Scum, Meantime and its near-namesake, London Weekend Television's 'Kids', also from 1979.

Stephen Poliakoff's debut screenplay comes furnished with a more esteemed roster than most - director Stephen Frears, producer Barry Hanson (The Naked Civil Servant, The Long Good Friday), cinematographer Chris Menges (Kes, Babylon, The Killing Fields) - and, though thematically typical of the period, departs from the norm with its more experimental approach, imbued with hyper-real stylings which owe more to European art cinema and American noir than kitchen sink verite.

Filmed entirely on location in Essex, Bloody Kids opens on a downbeat tableau - the aftermath of some dreadful traffic accident in the middle of the night, a portent of the foreboding, near-hallucinatory atmosphere the film maintains to the unsettlingly ambiguous finish.

The slender premise springs from the actions of two listless 11-year-old young boys, the cold, manipulative Leo (Thomas) and his weaker, more impressionable friend Mike (Clark). Contemptuous of the fallible police force (Mike has already filched a police helmet from the accident scene), the boys arrange a staged knife fight outside a football stadium with the aid of a bag of stage blood and a real blade.

As Leo orders the less-than-convinced Mike, "You drop the penknife and run. The police will come and question me, and then they'll find out it's all a joke." Won't they be angry, asks Mike? "They haven't got the time," shrugs Leo. Then, chillingly, "We're too young, you see. We can do anything." When Leo is accidentally stabbed for real (the split blood-bags underfoot making a cackling mockery of the situation), Mike legs it, still assuming it's part of the joke, and Leo is taken to hospital.

Though Leo recovers quickly, he becomes seduced by the lies he tells detective Ritchie (O'Connor). "Mike's a bit weird you see, sometimes he talks about killing people... I've seen weird things he's drawn." While on the run Mike is 'adopted' by new-wave-styled reprobate Ken (Gary Holton of 'Auf Wiedersehen, Pet' fame) who, impressed by his little charge's fresh notoriety ("you're going to be quite famous for a brief moment"), takes him on a joyride through town - and it's here where Bloody Kids comes unstuck.

The introduction of the magnetic, gobby Holton fatally unbalances the film, with the London actor dominating every scene he's in. Car-jacking, shop window-smashing Ken is also a conduit for Poliakoff to explore the seamier face of the late 1970s, where entropy is the disorder of the day, teens meander lifelessly in their death discos, and past their sell-by-date punks straggle blankly through the chaos.

Everywhere, everyone is bored beyond belief, ripped from their emotional moorings. Detective Ritchie, too, can barely summon up the effort to spend a few quality moments with his wife (familiar face Geraldine James). The only illumination comes from ghastly neon strobes spearing the night, as surveillance cameras keep a dispassionate, Orwellian watch over all, the sense of voyeurism heightened by the ubiquitous television sets beaming out images of cops and robbers, a banal parallel of the events being played out on the streets for real.

Ideally, Bloody Kids would be scored exclusively by Joy Division - the entirety of 1979's 'Unknown Pleasures' should more than suffice (It would certainly be preferable to the bizarrely inappropriate one by the film's composer George Fenton, which resembles something out of a Django western and was oddly nominated for a BAFTA.) Poliakoff is so concerned to ladle on the nihilism with a black-handled trowel that the boys' central dilemma - actually more troubling and worthy of exploration than this latter-day Bosch vision - soon falls by the wayside.

Nevertheless, the two young leads are excellent, Thomas in particular. Easily the more damaged of the pair (in both senses), Leo's a smart, golden-haired cherub with the chilly, unblinking gaze of a Great White, his casual defacing of his school corridor with a marker pen (indelible, he blithely assures a teacher) being symptomatic of his utter disdain for authority. "You seem to seep into every corner of the school," the teacher tells him, "like the smells from a cafeteria."

More uncomfortably, in Leo and Mike we might also see future echoes of two other emotionally damaged boys who, like our juvenile screen pair, were also once picked up on a CCTV camera, leading a trusting toddler through a shopping centre.

Was the above review useful to you?

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant, under-appreciated film

9/10
Author: Simon Clarke from New Zealand
31 July 2008

This little-seen and under-appreciated film accurately captures the bleakness and alienation of youth like few other films succeed in doing. It was shown on New Zealand television about 20 years ago and I've never had a chance to see it again. But I remember great direction, music, and atmosphere. Takes its place among the late-70s/early 80s British classics, the quality of which seems to be gone forever - see Meantime, Made in Britain, and anything in that period by Mike Leigh. To think that this was made by Stephen Frears who now gives us dreck like Mrs Henderson and The Queen is truly dispiriting.

Was the above review useful to you?

8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Early signs of greatness by the two Stephens

7/10
Author: ian_harris from London, England
17 February 2003

Poliakoff (writer) and Frears (director) both have a fascination for the darker corners of urban life that most of us never see. Bloody Kids is early work for both of these great masters and has the rough edges one might expect from youthful experimentation. But this piece demonstrates the pace, momentum and lyrical qualities that Poliakoff can create and amazing visual imagery by Frears. Some of the work is reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange, but this piece has a quite unique presence of its own which I found both haunting and gripping.

Not the greatest work by either Stephen, but early signs of greatness and certainly worth a look.

Was the above review useful to you?

Just how much can you fit in one evening?!

6/10
Author: Rich Wright
13 November 2013

A lot of young lads have their fair share of monkey shines growing up, though perhaps nothing quite on this scale. An 11 year old future psychopath somehow convinces his naive buddy to pretend to stab him outside a football stadium during a packed match, while dropping a fake blood pack to make it look real. Only, the mad one forces his gentler friend to push the knife in for real, so it quickly ceases to become a game, especially when it emerges the 'victim' is planning to set up his mate as some kind of junior Norman Bates. With friends like this, who needs enemies, eh?

In the meantime, while the weird one wanders around the hospital spreading all kinds of false rumours, the innocent fugitive is taken under the wing of a group of Saturday night revellers, including a particularly disturbed individual who forces the kid to join him on a little crime spree including joyriding and ordering food then running off without paying. As you can see, this isn't a film full of what could be classed as 'role models'.

Neither is it a brilliant example of character writing or plotting as one random incident follows another, with no real attempt to tie them together into a cohesive whole. That I suppose, it part of it's appeal... despite being rough around the edges, there's little here which is predictable or expected, and the outrageous goings-on are never dull. An early effort for future acclaimed filmmakers Stephen Frears and Stephen Poliakoff, the potential shines through. Also, it proves that police today were just as useless as they were back then... 6/10

Was the above review useful to you?

4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Richard Beckinsales last movie!

5/10
Author: unreasonableboy from Dallas, Texas
4 February 2007

I do remember walking down to "old Leigh" (Leigh-on-sea)one night in early March watching them film a scene for this movie at the underpass by the cockle sheds. In addition while in the 'Peterboat ' pub I saw Richard Beckinsale sampling some of the local brew and was struck how overweight he looked despite the fact he was well over six feet (he looked in good shape in Rising Damp and Porridge). Then about five days later I heard the shock news that he had died from a heart attack while only 32

Watching it today, although nostalgic, it does seem very dated. A lot has changed in Southend since then, some things are the same or very similar but it is a different generation, time has passed and it does not seem relevant today. Good scenes of the town back in 1979 and it also reflects the very poor spirit for young people back at that time, things did seem hopeless for many.(Note: In 1979, --- 33,000 were packed into ROOTS HALL to watch a goal less draw in the FA cup between Euro Champs Liverpool and fourth division Southend united!).

Was the above review useful to you?

9 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

deserves higher votes

9/10
Author: bduffin from ireland
9 September 2001

this film impressed me greatly, bleak but powerful especially in it's ending and Poliakoff's early, terse screenplay is excellent. Although made in the late 70's the film has aged remarkably well and still feels relevant. I recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting and intelligent look at British youth culture.

Was the above review useful to you?

6 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Now seems aimless and dated

6/10
Author: Neil Trotter from Canewdon, UK
21 January 2003

Although an interesting snapshot of 2 days in the life of a couple of Southend scallywags, it's hard to find any message in all this pointless rebellion. Is that all the 70s were about, even in Southend?

What does make this movie worth 90 minutes of your life is the glimpse of the past it offers. To most viewers, I suspect, there are a surprising number of familiar faces in the cast, some from very early in their careers.

On a detached level, it offers an enjoyable tour of Southend as it was a quarter of a century ago. Aside from the retail ownerships, it looks to have changed little.

Was the above review useful to you?

4 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Not a bad movie

7/10
Author: Ray (ray6707@aol.com) from Devon, United Kingdom
8 March 2002

Seeing as I come from where the film is set, Southend-On-Sea, its like a visual history of my formative years. First saw the film on BFBS in Germany and was quite amazed to see Peter Clark who I knew when we were younger.

If you read this Peter, remember Seasons In The Sun?

But to the film... thoroughly enjoyed it and bought it on VHS as soon as i could. And its interesting to note that of all the people in the film they near enough went onto much greater things, and some to die tragically young.

But its enough everytime I see it to fall back to those far gone days and relive all the sites and sounds of Southend as it was once.

And Gary Holton fulfilled one of my fantasys by driving around the top of end of Southend and Victoria Circus, and sticking his car through a shop window. WOW!!!

Was the above review useful to you?


Add another review


Related Links

Plot summary Ratings Awards
External reviews Plot keywords Main details
Your user reviews Your vote history