Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Project Terrible: Beware! Children at Play!

I only punish myself!  Back when I came up with the idea of Project Terrible, I didn't really foresee just how much crap I would end up watching.  I didn't think about Troma!  In hindsight, it does seem fair- since I got Carl (ILHM) to review The Capture of Bigfoot.  The difference, however, is that his film was hated by Lloyd Kauffman, while mine was hated by it's initial screening audience!  The finale of this movie is apparently famous for causing over half of the audience to walk out in disgust.  How bad could it be, you ask?  Well, the film is the tale of a group of children that go crazy in the woods and become cannibals.  Question answered?  On the plus side, this- like nearly all of the films for Project Terrible- are available to watch for free on streaming services.  On the negative side, this- like nearly all of the films for Project Terrible- are available to watch on streaming services!  Just like pulling off a bandage, it's best to just do it quickly.  The Sign says...
The film begins with a child being chased in the woods.  In hindsight, this appears to be a bit of foreshadowing- assuming that I want to give them credit for that.  It turns out to be the kid and the father playing around.  We see them out in the woods, with no sign or mention of a mother/wife.  After more camping, they go for a hike when dad steps in a bear trap.  He tells the kid to stay calm, but that doesn't last as we get a series of awkward transition scenes meant to imply that a lot of time has passed.  This can be done properly, but it isn't here.  The dad starts to lose it and starts spouting random lines about eating people, the Devil and all that stuff.  We've got a long, fly plot point coming way out of left field!  This leads to the credits and the introduction of our lead.  He's an author of scandalous books about the occult and the supernatural.  They called him back home to help with the rising crisis of kids disappearing from town over the last few years.  How nice of you to skip past those major events, movie!  A lot of people in the town are wary of the guy, but he does what he can to help them.  It's a good thing since we find out the kids are alright...but killer cannibals.  They show off the budget by cutting a guy in half with a scythe.  Ow.
Unfortunately, the movie has the awkward habit of jumping from plot points that are interesting to those that are boring as hell.  For example, seeing a woman getting attacked in the woods and having pieces of her eaten- interesting.  Seeing the townspeople wander around- not interesting.  To be fair, a lot of the boring stuff is just set-up for the more interesting.  Case in point: we get a sub-plot where the guy consult a psychic for help.  While dull, it's not as much padding as it was in The Zodiac Killer.  The point of her scenes?  To have her wander into the woods and get killed by the kids.  They keep picking up more of them too, as kids can just be kidnapped and instantly turned evil.  Explain, movie!  The movie does try and explain the cannibal cult thing, but it makes it worse in a lot of ways.  Are you ready?  The kids follow their leader 'Grendel'- aka the kid from the beginning- and chant about 'tearing flesh.'  Yes, this is a cult based around 'Beowulf!'  Why?  How?  The best part is how the hero and his wife figure it out.  Just with the chant of 'tearing flesh' and other similar statements, the woman goes 'That sounds just like 'Beowulf.''  Sigh.  I never thought I'd see a 1,000+ year old story mentioned in a Troma film.  On the plus side, it wasn't Tromeo & Beowulf!  Having seen enough, the townsfolk come up with a plan, which leads into the infamous ending.
Their plan: just kill all of the kids.  They think that they're possessed by demons, so it's time for them to die!  I would have suggested group therapy, but whatever.  The lead wants to save them, even after they kill his wife- very forgiving.  He shows them that 'Grendel' has no power and tries to break them up...only for the town to arrive.  This leads to nearly ten minutes of children being shot, stabbed and maimed on camera.  Most of these kills have blood shown, while others are worse for a number of reasons.  One of them has an adult put a revolver in a kid's mouth and blow his brains out- right against a piece of plywood with the 'Smiley Face' symbol on it.  Another has two people line up and blow the kids head up Dawn of the Dead-style!  The worst one though, is a little more subtle in its creepiness.  The town's only black kid runs up to his mother, the town's only black woman.  He runs up to her crying 'Mommy,' she picks him up and...stabs him in the back with a knife!  That's cold!  Oh yeah, they also kill the guy with a point-blank shot to the head.  One kid survives, however, setting up a sequel...that the PTC would never allow.  The End.
I billhete ou!  The plot of this movie could work as a film, but it fails on a couple big levels.  On a shock level, it does succeed, however.  The problem is that it's built around these kids being 'evil' and doing stuff like 'acting.'  The kid actors just can't handle the material.  This stands in stark contrast to films like Battle Royale, which actually succeeds in that regard.  One hilariously-bad scene involves the kids beating the Sheriff to death.  The girl closest to the camera is supposed to be bludgeoning him with a rock.  First, the rock bounces out of her hands!  Second, she lightly taps the thing against him in a motion that wouldn't unsettle dust!  They're in good company, however, as the adult actors are nearly all terrible too!  Unlike a lot of Troma films, the actors can't fall back to the 'we're over-acting for comedic effect' excuse, since this isn't a comedy!  What kind of movie is this then?  Is it a serious drama showing how society can be corrupted?  Is it a film that shows us that the roots of violence in our children come from us?  Does it diagnose our society as one that sees violence as the only solution to our problems?  No.  It's a shitty movie that tries to shock you by having kids kill people.  It doesn't work.
I hate you so much
Next up, a movie that defies all kinds of logic.  It involves space, vampires and cavemen from the Philippines.  Stay tuned...


  1. As truly terrible as it is, you have to appreciate that payoff in the end! Take that, defenseless children!!!111

  2. I guess it's good to know that after all of these years, people are still willing to rip-off 'Night of the Living Dead' in some way- in this case, the ending.

    You shouldn't make a film that was designed to alternately be boring and shocking to the point of offending audiences. Bad Troma, bad!