Three children are born at the moment of a total solar eclipse. On the even of their tenth birthday party, we discover that these kids, for astrological reasons, are complete sociopaths, and are having a merry time offing anyone in the community who even vaguely annoys them. The only ones who even gradually suspect that something is going on are high school senior Joyce (Lori Lethen) and her little brother Timmy (K. C. Martel). They soon become the target of the psycho kids’ wrath.
As slasher films flooded the screens in the early eighties, every conceivable minor variation was tried, while the rigid narrative formula was religiously observed. So if the variation wasn’t in the date (Halloween, Friday the 13th, New Year’s Evil, My Bloody Valentine, etc., etc., etc.), the change-up was in the the killer. And so here we have kids, though the elements remain otherwise familiar: prologue opening, young couples get naked and die, the Good Girl is the Final Girl, and so on. Though there is a bit of a nasty little punch in having the kids be murderous, this was hardly new in 1981 (The Bad Seed anyone?). The world of the film is a very difficult one to buy: the rash of murders has very little effect on the community, the junkyard features gassed-up and fully functional cars, astrology is apparently a for-credit subject at the high school, and everyone is very, very, very stupid. And while there is a certain demented pleasure in seeing tiny, WTF turns by the likes of Jose Ferrer (on-screen for maybe 30 seconds) and Susan Strasberg, this is a film that, in the final analysis, is nowhere as sick as it should be, unable to follow through on its own premise, as demonstrated by the singularly anti-climactic finale. Had this been an Italian or Spanish movie from the same era, I venture to think things would be a bit different.
Still, for viewers in a nostalgic mood for the 80s slasher and its now rather charming quaintness, this should fit the bill quite nicely.
There are a few rough edges here, but they are mostly due to the age and budgetary limitations of the movie, and not to errors in the transfer. So the night scenes can be a bit murky, and there is some grain. There is also rather striking instance of failed colour correction about three quarters of the way in. The print, however, is in excellent condition, and the colours are otherwise strong. The aspect ratio is the original 1.66:1, and is given the anamorphic treatment.
The mono track is the technical element that has aged the most here. The dialogue is prone to overmodulation, while hiss and bursts of static are not enough to wreck the viewing experience, but are certainly distracting.
Don’t Eat That Cake: (9:15) Lori Lethin reminisces about the film, and is just as bemused as we are by the presence of Ferrer and Strasberg.
Audio Interview with Ed Hunt: (51:10) A seriously in-depth talk with the director, covering not just the film but his career more generally.
A Brief History of Slasher Films: (15:11) Exactly what it sounds like, and a solid introduction to the genre, with plenty of debate fodder for fans.
Easter Egg. Find the handprint on the extras page for a blocky VHS version of the trailer.
No rediscovered classic, but an entertaining bit of 80s nostalgia, definitely. For all that it does wrong (and perhaps because of it), it’s a hard film to dislike.