No, it's not a movie about a Marilyn Manson concert, but an instant campy horror classic called "The Children", a movie that contains a single wacky idea so absurd and outrageous that you are almost entertained for the entire length of the feature. Created for the drive-in/exploitation circuit, "The Children" remains engaging enough until somewhere near its conclusion, where the director seemingly loses the movie's feeble sense of logic and goes strictly for laughs.
Due to the non-efforts of a couple of plant workers, a cloud of yellow radioactive gas escapes from a nuclear power plant and floats across a roadway, engulfing a school bus with about six kids on it. The gas has somehow changed the children of the small town into evil zombies with black fingernails, and whoever is unfortunate enough to be touched by the children is in for a nasty surprise: their hands yield the ability to flash-fry their victims alive in about sixty seconds, leaving behind a corpse that looks like it's been on the barbecue for a few hours. Eventually, the solution is discovered: gunshots do not affect the zombie children, but if their hands are cut off, they're done for.
The sheriff of Ravensback, who would win all sorts of least-competent awards in the field of law enforcement, begins a half-hearted attempt to locate the kids, but unfortunately nobody connects the missing children with the fact that a trail of charred corpses is being left behind. In fact, most of the adults in this movie are incompetent at being anything, especially good parents. Along with the lamebrain sheriff, there is a young policeman who is messing around with somebody's jailbait daughter. Gale Garnett, who had a 60s-era pop radio hit with "We'll Sing In The Sunshine", stars here as one of the unsuspecting parents who becomes the default heroine of our story, but even she lapses into some unmotherly behavior by smoking a cigarette while she's pregnant (approximately eleven months pregnant by the look of it), apologizing to her unborn child as she puffs. Her husband is a mostly unsympathetic creep who yells at her when she's in moments of panic and refuses to give her vital information, such as "don't let the kids touch you or you'll get burned up real good." The sheriff deputizes two alcoholic rednecks when he needs a roadblock set up, interrupting their sale of poached game birds to the local general store operator, Molly. One of the children belongs to a lesbian couple made up of a bitchy "doctor" with a bad attitude and a freaked-out blind lady who is mostly stoned on painkillers all the time. Ditto for the "ultra-mod" couple who smoke grass by the pool, are into nude sunbathing, and don't really know or care where their darling daughter is. They're visited by a gay caricature of a guy who listens to disco music booming on his car stereo (and has a prehistoric cellular phone!).
In fact, the whole subtext of "The Children" could be read as a neo-conservative parable where non-traditional families are shown as gross caricatures who deserve to be fried to a crisp by their children. The problem with that theory is that everyone who isn't on the "liberal" side of the equation is portrayed as a yokel and a fool.
Whatever it is, it's bizarre and tasteless fun. Filmmakers could never get away with something like this in today's climate, especially since the entire concept of this film is that kids have been turned into monsters, and the only way to get rid of them is to hack them to pieces.
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