Max Kalmanowicz’s horror thriller The Children, which opened in New York on Friday, July 4, 1980, is a bizarre oddity that came out in the wake of the March 28, 1979 Three-Mile Island nuclear accident that occurred outside of Harrisburg, PA.
That near-fatal tragedy was no laughing matter, however a similar accident transpires in this Massachusetts-lensed yarn about a busload of schoolkids who ride through radioactive material, only to grow black fingernails, hug their parents who then burn up and disintegrate! Originally available on VHS via (I think) Vestron Video, The Children made its DVD debut in 2005 thanks to Troma. A staple of cable TV airings in the 1980’s has turned it into sort of a cult film. Now, you can see the film on the big screen on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 in Brooklyn, NY at The Alamo Draft House. From the press release:
Appearing on drive-in screens barely a year after the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor meltdown in Pennsylvania in 1979, it’s tempting to view THE CHILDREN as a low-budget response to that milestone of environmental disaster.
But even if the script pre-dated Three Mile Island, it’s interesting in that it combines both the eco-horror and the child-as-monster horror subgenres into one campy package, recalling films such as WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (Spain, 1976), VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1960), as well FROGS (1972) and perhaps SOYLENT GREEN (1973).
Due to careless chemical plant workers in the fictional New England town of Ravensback, a damaged pipe leaks an enormous toxic cloud into the town, just in time to collide with a school bus on its after-school route. When the bus passes through the cloud, the remaining five children on the bus are transformed into pale, black-fingernailed zombies who burn to a crisp anyone they hug – their preferred method of killing. The children’s parents learn the hard way that hugging = death, unless they chop off the kids’ hands – the only method that seems to stop them!
Despite its low budget, the movie gets the most out of its subversive premise and cast of genuinely creeptastic child zombies.
Click here for ticket information.