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Horror Movie A Day: BEWARE! CHILDREN AT PLAY (1989)
Hold on! Hold on! Don’t get your bowels in an uproar!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the first 2009 Horror Movie A Day. [For the entirety of October I will be showcasing one horror film each day. Every film is pulled from my DVD shelf, recorded on the home DVR or streamed via Instant Netflix and will be one I haven’t seen. Unlike my A Movie A Day or A Movie A Week columns there won’t necessarily be connectors between each film, but you’ll more than likely see patterns emerge day to day.] Keeping the killer kids theme alive we move from yesterday’s awesome, underseen NOTHIN BUT THE NIGHT to the not so awesome late ‘80s Troma flick BEWARE! CHILDREN AT PLAY. I guess I should have known better than to expect this movie to be anything but a cheap, poorly acted, poorly written, poorly shot, poorly scored, poorly everything piece of filmmaking, but this era of Troma releases does give us such gems as THE TOXIC AVENGER, SURF NAZIS MUST DIE, SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. and CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH. Call them cheap (they are), call them silly (they are), call them borderline retarded (uh-huh), but goddamnit if they’re not fun as hell to watch. BEWARE! CHILDREN AT PLAY does have its fun moments, but I’m afraid that it never really lives up to its potential. I mean, a movie about cannibalistic children that haunt the woods of some tiny hick town because they’re obsessed with the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf can’t help but have some intrinsic entertainment value, but it’s genuinely tough getting through the amateur filmmaking. You know when you watch independent movies and it always seems like the editor cuts into a scene about a second too early and cuts out a bit too late? That dead space is a clear indicator that the filmmaker doesn’t know what the hell he or she is doing. It makes everything awkward even before the horrible acting is unleashed on you. The director, Mik Cribben, who also sprinkled baby powder in his hair and beard to star as the old fire and brimstone spewing Farmer Isac Braun, has a lot of experience working in the industry, but only ever directed this one film. It’s not his calling and that’s clear from the jarring opening of a father and son camping out and playing an uncomfortable game of “catch and tickle” in the woods. Of course daddy steps into a bear trap and goes slowly crazy as his wound gets infected. There’s no help to found and the kid just watches his dad start spewing nonsense including lines from Beowulf about gobbling flesh and gulping blood. We find out later that he’s a professor that teaches English Literature and “Anglo-Saxon.” Yes, he does teach Anglo-Saxon or “Angel Axen” as the both city-educated, but apparently still small-town dumb sheriff keeps saying. Our main character is a writer of true life occult or “ghost hunter.” He also writes about psychic phenomena and alien abduction. His wife hates this and is also an expert on English literature. If she wasn’t then she couldn’t tell us all about Grendel and Beowulf later in the movie. The little kid from the beginning ate his father and now has a thirst for human flesh and if you’re a kid you can easily catch this particular brand of crazy just by close contact. He’s snatching kids from this small town, including our dumb sheriff’s daughter, and making a Lord of the Flies-like cult of murderous cannibal kids with the unfortunate nickname of “The Woodies.” That’s because they live in the woods, not because they all have erections in case you were wondering. So, the novelists’ little girl is kidnapped and it becomes a race to reach her before she’s brainwashed, too. All of that culminates in the hands down best part of the movie. I’m going to spoil it, so if you had any desire to go into this maybe 2/10 star movie then be warned. They kill the shit out of the kids. The crazy Christian director/farmer leads the fed up townspeople to the camp of the kids just when the author rescues his daughter and kills “Grendel.” By killing the now late teen kid from the opening the spell is kinda broken. But the Christian mob wants their blood so we see mothers killing their children. It’s all awkwardly staged like the rest of the movie, but I can see people getting genuinely affected by what they see here. Because it’s low budget Troma they don’t give a fuck and show a gun going into a 9 year old’s mouth and the resulting brainsplattering as the trigger is pulled. You don’t get a full cult children holocaust scene enough, I say. But I don’t know if it’s particularly worth watching the crappy movie that leads up to it. Final Thoughts: This might be a fun movie to get a group of friends together and get drunk to. It’s on Instant Netflix. In fact, I watched this on my Xbox. The quality is crap, but there won’t be anybody clamoring for a pristine anamorphic HD transfer of this one.

Now, I’m going to give you a really good killer kids exploitation movie to either pair with BEWARE! CHILDREN AT PLAY or replace it altogether.

DEVIL TIMES FIVE is a really fun, dark killer kids movie from 1974. This has drive-in written all over it. Very cheap, but still that semi-pro kind of cheap that the best exploitation of the ‘70s tends to be. Director Sean MacGregor does some weird shit here, but it all works and feels like a real movie unlike BEWARE! CHILDREN AT PLAY which feels more like a home video. MacGregor gets the award for best use of slow-motion ever in a cheap ‘70s killer children movie. The dude loves slow-motion so much, uses it so often, that I have to wonder if he sired the Wachowskis. There’s one scene where the kids beat some poor bastard to death in a cellar that is probably 2 ½ minutes long and in reality took 25 seconds to shoot. Slooooowwww moootttiiiooonnn… And not the high quality slow motion, either. No, this is old school “decided after the fact” slow motion that stutters. Get a look at what I’m talking about in the trailer:

Yes, that trailer gives away all the deaths, including the best of the bunch… the piranhas in the bathtub gag. Be that as it may, I’m betting you want to watch that movie now. The Devil Times Five Leave No One Alive! I miss that kind of filmmaking, where a prematurely balding, fairly ugly, but rugged man with a mustache can be the lead lusted after by all the women in the movie. The basic premise of the movie is that a winter resort lodge occupied by three different couples on vacation take in a group of 5 kids. Turns out they were in a car accident as they were being transported from the local insane asylum. Although they appear innocent on the surface they each have a lust for murder.

What’s great about this film is the tone. That’s what you don’t get these days. For all the blood and gratuitous nudity (on the part of the adults, of course) and cursing and all that I think the single biggest sticking point for a modern censor board like the MPAA would be the tone. It’s bleak and brutal. As cheesy as this movie gets what keeps it from becoming BEWARE! CHILDREN AT PLAY is the underlying hopeless tone. You know from the get go that these kids are going to win. And they do. Sure, the adults are pretty worthless people, but you start to feel for them in the same way you feel bad for the gazelle running its ass off from a hungry lion. It takes a special kind of exploitation movie to make you relate to the hunted and not the hunter. So, yeah. If you haven’t seen this movie add it to the queue. There’s a really good DVD transfer out there. You’ll dig it.

Here are the next week’s worth of HMAD titles: Saturday, October 3rd: CAMERON’S CLOSET (1988)

Sunday, October 4th: AFRAID OF THE DARK (1991)

Monday, October 5th: THE PIT (1981)

Tuesday, October 6th: BRAIN DAMAGE (1988)

Wednesday, October 7th: BRAIN DEAD (1990)

Thursday, October 8th: VISITING HOURS (1982)

Friday, October 9th: MACABRE (1980)

Why not continue the kids in horror movies theme with CAMERON’S CLOSET? Let’s do it! See you tomorrow for that one! -Quint Follow Me On Twitter

HMAD 2009: October 1st: Nothing But The Night
Click here for the full 215 movie run of A Movie A Day!

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 2, 2009, 6:36 p.m. CST

    Shit. The Devil TImes Five Trailer gives it all away

    by Continentalop

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 6:37 p.m. CST

    Killer kids rock!

    by LastOfTheV8Interceptors

    Gonna have to pop in "The Brood" or something tonight since I don't have either one of those.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 6:46 p.m. CST

    If it's October...

    by cheyne_stoking_DMS

    that means horror. Give me any fukin ghools.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 6:54 p.m. CST

    I sure do loves me some horror.....

    by SubliminalJones

    but, sorry. Slapping that still of the kid with the gun in his mouth with his brains splattered behind him is just all kinds of bad taste, even for this site. I guess I've gone pussy since I became a parent. Ah , the little fucker probably got what he deserved. Carry on.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 6:54 p.m. CST

    The ending of 'Beware' is absolutely worth seeing....

    by JediRob

    ...i saw it for the first time at about 15, and my friends and i were only half watching the movie and then all of a sudden perked right the hell up. It's since become quite the cult punchline.<br><br> If you don't wanna suffer through the whole oredeal...<br> <br> The "Mama!" knife in the back is my personal favorite.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:22 p.m. CST

    I applaud HMAD but...

    by SoylentMean

    for me October is all about tradition. I have so many Horror movie favorites, many of which I wait to watch until October, that going out on a limb and hoping something never before seen will bring that sense of enjoyment (and in the future, nostalgia) just doesn't sit well with me. I'm taking note of your list, Quint, but I've got my own October Horror traditions to maintain.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:21 p.m. CST

    Those 70's chicks...

    by FearfulSymmetry

    ...are surprise hot. Marilyn Burns from TCSM is my favorite, no doubt.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:33 p.m. CST

    Oh my, "The Woodies"?

    by Skyway Moaters

    Talk about your unintentionally hilarious script foible! lol - literally.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:44 p.m. CST

    This is great Quint


    As a Horror fan, HMAD is going to go down well with me.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:15 p.m. CST

    This shit was terrible up until the end

    by MacReady452

    I made the mistake of trusting that some "gems" were on this list. This seems like Quint blindfolded himself and pulled some dvd's off the shelf. Skip right to the end and watch all the kids get killed. If you watch the whole thing you will be begging for these kids to die. Not cause they are evil but because they are so lame. Pitchfork not really through the neck was hilarious. DONT BOTHER WITH THE PIT EITHER. Terrible shit. "SO bad it is good" at best. Not really. a complete waste.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:46 p.m. CST


    by Anna Valerious

    There WAS a movie with Bill Pullman AND Bill Paxton, the two actors who keep getting confused by the general public? I did not know that.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:48 p.m. CST


    by PAC-MAN

    Believe it or not there already is a site in fact called where a horror movie is reviewed everyday ALL YEAR LONG. Get your shit together and stop ripping off other people! -Pac "Muthafuckin" Man

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:50 p.m. CST

    Oh yeah

    by PAC-MAN

    Insightful review though I must say.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 10:36 p.m. CST

    Thank you Quint

    by Cinemanimetal

    I love that you take the time to watch all of these movies. I'm curious what you will think of Cameron's Closet. I've heard good things about it and have been meaning to check it out. As for this Troma dud I've never seen it because I had a feeling it wouldn't turn out so good. With a few exceptions (Cannibal, Lolilove) I tend to think that the only good Troma movies are the ones made by Lloyd Kaufman and/or Michael Herz. I hated Surf Nazi's for example.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 10:40 p.m. CST


    by Cinemanimetal

    Macready - Quint DOES pick these horror movies at random from a hat. Sure he chose to buy them at some point, but c'mon you have to admit the potential is there for these movies to be good.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 10:44 p.m. CST


    by Cinemanimetal

    I get what you mean about saving certain movies for this Halloween season. Personally, I like to do a bit of new and old. Last Halloween I watched Halloween (how creative of me!), Monster Squad (both of which I own and had seen before), and Midnight Meat Train (which I hadn't seen before). Oh, also I showed my friends the hilarious Zuni doll segment of Trilogy of Terror. We had lots of fun with that one!

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 11:39 p.m. CST


    by MacReady452

    I just needed to realize we are all stepping off that ledge together when it comes to these questionable titles;)

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 4:29 a.m. CST

    Mac & Pac

    by Quint

    Sorry if I wasn't clear, but yeah... none of these I have seen and a lot of them I'm going into totally blind. The only things I vouch for are the recommendation picks that follow each HMAD.<BR><BR>Pac, I appreciate your loyalty to the other Horror Movie A Day, but I'm not ripping him off. My AMAD column was the impetus of HMAD. What else should I call it? If the original HMAD blogspot owner actually requests that I change the name I will, but in my contact with him he seems to be fine with it. So the tradition continues. If I do have to change the name of the column I will out of professional courtesy. I wasn't aware of his site when I started this column, but I have found that a lot of his fans are pretty... loyal... to say the least.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 8:09 a.m. CST

    Since Quint is too polite Pac, let me just add:

    by Skyway Moaters

    ... Shut the fuck up you wank.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 8:19 a.m. CST

    Big Difference

    by NixEclips

    The '70's didn't have the ability to be DTV. Also, Troma both produces and just releases flicks. Sometimes you get "Beware" and sometimes you get "Cannibal: The Musical".

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Looking Forward To...

    by NixEclips

    Brain Dead. Lost on the DTV shelf, but a mind-fuck.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 9:14 a.m. CST

    Quint, these reviews are great. Keep 'em coming.

    by LoneGun

    I like that you follow up the review by recommending something worthy to watch. Also, just have to say, that photo of the kid with the gun in his mouth is so frakkin' disturbing. Too bad the rest of the film doesn't measure up. DEVIL TIMES FIVE looks good, though. I stopped watching the trailer a third the way through, so all the kills wouldn't be spoiled for me.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 9:56 a.m. CST

    I just signed up for Netflix, and this is on it.

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    I still don't think I'll watch this turd.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 10:33 a.m. CST

    Quint -

    by ThusSpakeSpymunk

    Despite our many differences, your love of DEVIL TIMES FIVE makes up for it. It's truly one of th classics of the killer kid genre, which is probably my favorite subgenre of horror. I hope you're ready for THE PIT. It's not horror. It's not comedy. It's not a comfortable mix between the two It is like watching a cartoon that's covered with mold on every frame. That's all I can think of.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Oh, and Quint?

    by ThusSpakeSpymunk

    Do you know if Code Red is EVER going to put out the full release of NIGHTMARE IN A DAMAGED BRAIN aka BRAIN DAMAGE with all the stuff put back in that US distributors cut?

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 10:54 a.m. CST

    Brain Damage

    by NixEclips

    Well, Synapse released an unrated version of that film, if you're talking about the Basket Case director's film. Much better with all the weirdness put back in.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 5:03 p.m. CST

    Quint whats up with "The Home"?

    by ThePilgrim

    When is that gonna get made.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 5:19 p.m. CST

    Devil Times Five...

    by Red Ned Lynch a great little horror movie. Bravo for including it. Children at Play is pretty bad. My single favorite child in a horror film moment may be at the end of Bay of Blood/Twitch of the Death Nerve, though it is not primarily of children horror movie.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 5:23 p.m. CST

    And Quint...

    by Red Ned Lynch

    ...two movies both titled The Children. One is just a fabulous little slice of end of the seventies madness about a school bus that rolls through a radioactive cloud, turning all the kids on board into radioactive zombies. Their fingernails turn black and they kill people by hugging them. The only way to kill the little radioactive zombie darlings is to...cut off their hands. Made for 19.95 and featuring a cast that seems to have escaped from a napkin David Lynch was writing on one night while he was on acid this movie was released on DVD by Troma in the last few years. Not saying it was good but I sure do love it...for what it is. If you haven't seen it take a look.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 5:24 p.m. CST


    by Red Ned Lynch

    The other The Children is a British movie from last year. You've probably seen it already but it is maybe the scariest scary child movie I've ever seen. Certainly in the top three.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 8:58 p.m. CST

    Quint, I aint mad at ya.

    by MacReady452

    Honestly the 2 I have watched off your list here have been shit but I laugh my ass off. The Pit is so strange. I actually watched Hellgate as well and it has Horshach from Welcome Back Kotter as the the hero and plenty of tittie. Laughable. I am just waiting for some gold to come out of all this mining.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 11:09 p.m. CST


    by Jamie McBain

    The trailer for The Devil Times Five, look really messed up.

  • Oct. 4, 2009, 2:22 a.m. CST

    I don't get it, man...

    by mr_krunchy

    I just don't. What is with the celebration of the massacre of children? When I think about kids who are brutalized or murdered in real life, then I see something like this where people cheer on images of kids getting slaughtered - images that someone worked hard to produce - it just gives me all the more reason to simply give up on this species altogether. Peace on earth? Heh. Right.

  • Oct. 4, 2009, 3:56 a.m. CST


    by NixEclips

    It's about kids killing adults. Then the adults have to fight back. Look back to Lord of the Flies and see how kids can be so brutal. Or, think back to Junior High or High School. Kids are assholes.

  • Oct. 4, 2009, 8:35 a.m. CST

    not too crazy about Troma...

    by The Amazing G

    I've tried watching a few of their flicks (on Netflix instant) and I've found them mildly amusing at best, but mostly boring as hell

  • Oct. 4, 2009, 2:59 p.m. CST

    Didn't care much for DEVIL TIMES FIVE

    by HorrorFan81

    Bad acting. Atrocious writing. Although, I do love the choice editing that allows for boobs to be shown far more than is logically possible. <p> And the choice line of dialogue from one of the children: "My face! Look what you did to my beautiful face!!!"