Tag Archives: children are evil

“Alexa… kill those people.”

m3gan 2022


4 Stars  2022/15/102m

“Friendship has evolved.”

Director: Gerard Johnstone / Writers: Akela Cooper, James Wan / Cast: Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng, Amie Donald, Jenna Davis, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Jen Van Epps, Lori Dungey, Stephane Garneau-Monten, Amy Usherwood.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “I have a new primary user now: Me.”

That’s right – it sounds exactly like Child’s Play. And Dolly Dearest. And Annabelle. Actually, this campfest has more in common with the 2019 Child’s Play reboot than any of the others, as the age old tale of our reliance on technology coming back to bite us in the ass. But this one is better.

Starting as it means to go on with an all-out assault courtesy of the commercial for a Furby-like toy, PurrPetual Petz. Nine-year-old Cady irks her parents by playing with the talking, tablet-integrated toy during a roadtrip to a ski lodge, which ultimately turns fatal.

m3gan 2022

Shortly after, Cady is sent to live with her aunt Gemma, a toy designer who gifted her the annoying thing and is clueless about raising a child, let alone a bereaved one. They connect over one of Gemma’s early inventions, a robot controlled remotely. Cady’s uptick in mood inspires Gemma to revisit an AI companion she’d been working on as a side project – Model 3 Generative Android: M3GAN.

Gemma introduces her prototype M3gan to Cady, pairs her with it, and in no time at all she has a new friend who spews facts, reminds her of chores, sings her ballad versions of Titanium and Bulletproof, and hangs around looking a tiny bit sinister. The trope of ‘protect the human’ programming inevitably leads to interpreting all outsiders as a threat, starting with the neighbour’s aggressive dog, just as Buddi started with a claw-happy cat in the Child’s Play redux.

m3gan 2022 violet mcgraw

A nasty pre-teen bully is next to cross the line and ends up being chased into the road and slammed into by an SUV. Gemma begins to suspect M3gan’s configuration might need some work, but finds the doll is against having the hood popped, and learning that M3gan is interfacing with various digital assistants and household smart appliances. However, Gemma’s boss has set up a showcase to show M3gan to the world, planning on retailing her as a stand-in nanny to rich families at $10,000 a pop. M3gan, of course, has other plans.

More people die, M3gan sashays down corridors with confident swagger, stopping at one point to grace a fleeing victim with a dance. If you thought Chucky’s hokeyness was the height of camp, strap in: The bitchy snap-backs, the shades, the digital hijacking of a Ferrari that she zooms off in… I haven’t cackled with glee at a film this much in a long time.

m3gan 2022 ronny chieng

A rare January horror release that made bank, thanks to smart marketing (and TikTok), this won’t be the last we’ve seen of this doll. Whispers of teaming her up with her red-headed cinematic grandpa are already doing the rounds.

We don’t need another hero

brightburn 2019


3.5 Stars  2019/18/87m

“He’s not here to save the world.”

Director: David Yarovesky / Writers: Brian Gunn & Mark Gunn / Cast: Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Gregory Alan Williams, Becky Wahlstrom, Emmie Hunter, Annie Humphrey.

Body Count: 6 (+268)

I was over superhero movies about twelve minutes into the first Avengers film. Overwrought FX-dependant three-hour epics; all this DC vs Marvel bollocks; online cry babies whining about liberal agendas every time a female character isn’t a cowering wreck; reboot after reboot after reboot; TV spin-offs; “we’re going darker”; a gazillion heroes nobody outside of the comic book store ever heard of… JUST. FUCK. OFF.

…Except X-Men. You can stay.

The news that Brightburn would be an anti-hero flick barely registered with me (I mean, how many times have various directors declared they’re making ‘more than just another superhero movie’?), until my good pal Ross caught the international cut in Amsterdam and informed me it was pretty much a slasher flick. Yes. Finally.

brightburn 2019 jackson a. dunn

International cut, you say? Why, yes. The BBFC indicated the original version would warrant an 18 certificate, so the distributor pre-cut some of the grue and language to snag a more audience friendly 15. And on DVD? The cut version, unless you have 4K SuperMegaDVD, the only place the original has been made available.

Never fear, it’s still quite grisly as we enter the world of the Breyer family: Dad Kyle, Mom Tori, and 12-year-old Brandon, who fell to earth inside a spaceship a decade earlier and was taken in by the childless couple and raised as any other regular human kid on their farm in the town of Brightburn. Around his birthday, the ship, secured in a locked section of the barn, begins glowing and calling out to Brandon, telling him to do things. Baaaad things.

brightburn 2019 eye glass

And so, as Kyle and Tori mistake his sudden mood changes for the dreaded onset of puberty, Brandon discovers his powers by killing a lawnmower, breaking the hand of the only girl who (up until then) was nice to him, and then going after her mom after he’s suspended from school over the incident. So it goes, anyone who doesn’t fold to Brandon’s will finds themselves on the lethal end of his significant superhero abilities. There’s a particularly effective scene with his uncle in his truck, which results in a sticky lost mandible. Ouch. This scene, and the shard of glass in the eye, were trimmed for the UK cut.

Eventually, Kyle and Tori begin to suspect their lil baby is the one responsible, after all he pretty much leaves his initials at every kill scene. But how do you kill Superman? They know virtually nothing of where he came from and it’s not like Brandon’s been clued in. This question kind of hangs over Brightburn in a difficult way: Whereas the tiresome opus of the standard superhero flick has the gifted one up against a villain until one of them is defeated and the humans saved, here there is no other super to pit Brandon against, it’s one big pre-teen tantrum that a time-out won’t solve.

brightburn 2019 matt jones

Harking back to the not-dissimilar Chronicle, it works fine as an – ugh – ‘origin story’ and had the film done better at the box office, a sequel or two would be guaranteed. As it stands, producer James Gunn has said it’s ‘been discussed’, but this seems like a niche within a juggernaut of a genre where anything less than world dominating success is seen as a failure, so who knows?

As a standalone, it feels a little short, and like a couple of scenes have been missed: Brandon is hinted at as being a victim of bullies in school, but this is never again touched upon. Some more low-level vengeance incidents building his sinister silhouette might well have done the trick, rather than his pretty much overnight transformation from good kid to little super-psycho.

brightburn 2019

A good film, not boring, but maybe just a little lacking in depth in places, and still way better than the prospect of the probable Infinity War reboot we’re getting in 2028.

A Dribbling Mess

nightmares in a damaged brain 1981


2.5 Stars  1981/X/100m

“The nightmare you can’t escape alive.”

A.k.a. NightmareBlood Splash

Director/Writer: Romano Scavolini / Cast: Baird Stafford, Sharon Smith, Mik Cribben, C.J. Cooke, Danny Rosnan, William Milling.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “You lose a dangerously psychotic patient from a secret experimental drug programme and all you can say is ‘I’m sorry’!?”

This one was notable for resulting in the imprisonment of its UK distributor after an uncensored version found its way on to video store shelves at the height of the 80s Video Nasty extravaganza.

Extra credit for trying to make a bit of sense out of the killer’s madness, but on the whole this is a bit of a boring picture, sensationalised because some of its violence excesses, often incorrectly credited to Tom Savini, who just advised the production on a few things.

George Tatum is a mental patient taunted by a recurring nightmare (actually a memory), who is being mentally reconstructed by a group of doctors using experimental drugs. When he is released back into society, he can’t handle any situations that relate to his dream, and runs away to track down his ex-wife and three really annoying children, who scream at one another far more than any of George’s victims.

nightmares in a damaged brain 1981

Things are cranked into Halloween gear when he murders the babysitter and comes after his kids. We are finally treated to the full uncut memory as he recalls gruesomely doing away with a hooker and his father when he caught them in the act as a boy, lopping off the woman’s head with an axe in slo-mo, then burying the hatchet in his bound-to-the-bed dad’s head. This blood-soaked scene, shot with a concerning almost sexual nuance, will most certainly be the one that earned the film its ban.

Shades of Problem Child dominate the rest of it with the fucking punchable C.J., all leading to a callous Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter-style last final shot.

Rankfest: Children of the Corn

I’m pretty sure OneRepublic found influence for their international hit Stop and Stare in the Children of the Corn films, as there’s a whooooole lot of that going on. Staring. Kids in creepy clothes with dork-ass names like Jedidiah and Mortichai. Always staring.

At the of writing I haven’t ‘experienced’ Children of the Corn: Runaway (2018), but I’ve not read a whole lot of positive, so I’ll get back to y’all on that.


9th best: Genesis (2011)

children of the corn genesis

Holy House Plants, this reboot stinks! A budget south of the cost of renting the car in which a young couple drive to become stranded – almost nothing happens for the entire run time of the movie and it re-uses car chase footage from fucking Bad Boys II.


8th: Children of the Corn (2009)

children of the corn 2009

For all the critical rocks pitched at the 1984 original, it’s at least nowhere near as boring as this made-for-TV more ‘faithful’ adaptation of King’s short story (which was way shorter than I ever thought). Burt and Vicky are drawn as horrendous people, so why not cheer on the Children? Because they suck just as hard, especially the 8-year-old playing Isaac, who can barely fill his oversized hat, let alone the shoes of John Franklin.


7th: Isaac’s Return (1999)

children of the corn 666 isaac's return

COTC‘s H20 moment: Isaac didn’t die after all and has just been in a coma all this time! So when the daughter of his and Rachel (the girl in the church) turns up looking for info about her past and Isaac wakes up, the usual occurs. Notable only for He Who Walks Behind the Rows appearing in human form, but almost nothing else.


6th: Revelation (2001)

children of the corn revelation

 Claudette Mink goes to visit grandma, who has (very recently) disappeared. Various residents of the same housing complex start falling victim to the glarey children hanging around the locale. A few familiar faces from low-end horror and not terrible production quality, but nothing new is brought to the table either. Corn with corn it is, then.


5th: Urban Harvest (1995)

children of the corn iii

Brothers Joshua and Eli are Gatlin orphans fostered by an LA couple. Eli brings with him a few cobs, which he plants in a lot behind the house and goes about corrupting his high school classmates. Notable for Charlize Theron appearing as an extra and the world’s cheapest looking monster.


4th: The Gathering (1996)

children of the corn iv

Naomi Watts goes home to stay with unhinged mom, Karen Black, and her younger siblings, when the kids in town start getting sick and killing their parents. It’s remarkable how many future stars started off battling these brats.


3rd: Fields of Terror (1998)

children of the corn 5

And now Eva Mendes’ turn to go up against homicidal little shits as she and buddies break down outside of town where a cult convinces people to jump into a silo, Eva included. Despite its undeniable naffness, there’s a sense of late-90s fun to it all and nobody looks to be taking it too seriously. Eyes peeled for Kane Hodder as a barman.


2nd: The Final Sacrifice (1992)

children of the corn ii

The only legitimate direct sequel to the events of Gatlin sees the orphaned kiddies sent to temporarily live with the good folks of neighbouring Hemingford, where people soon start dying all over again. Death by hijacked electric wheelchair, the nosebleed from hell, and a cute send up of The Wizard of Oz are highlights.


The Best One: Children of the Corn (1984)

children of the corn 1984

It may not have been wanted Stephen King wanted – he likened the experience to sending his daughter off to college with high hopes only for her to do drugs and get raped – but it’s clearly the best of its series, with offbeat performances from John Franklin as Isaac, and Courtney Gains, as Malichai. Uneven, sure, but still a bit creepy.


So, objectively, none of these films are ‘good’, but a few of them have some cheesy rewatchability if nothing else. Anyone for a OneRepublic sing-along while we chomp some Green Giant?

When she was bad

alice sweet alice 1976


4 Stars  1976/18/103m

“If you survive this night… Nothing will scare you again.”

A.k.a. CommunionHoly Terror

Director/Writer: Alfred Sole / Writer: Rosemary Ritvo / Cast: Linda Miller, Mildred Clinton, Paula Sheppard, Niles McMaster, Jane Lowry, Rudolph Willrich, Michael Hardstark, Alphonso DeNoble, Brooke Shields, Gary Allen.

Body Count: 4

Laughter Lines: “My mother thought you could use some cake, fatty.”

You know that meme of the little girl almost smiling in front of a burning house? That’ll come to mind when the credits roll here.

I grew up in a very religious environment – church every Sunday, although instead of church, it was some outhouse in a guy’s garden known at The Tabernacle where sermons or whatever lasted 2-3 hours every week. Sounds more like a cult now that I write it down.

Nothing turns a kid away from religion (and into the liberating arms of horror movies) quicker than having it forced upon you, so it’s no surprise now I don’t categorise myself as having any belief. Agnostic, I suppose. I believe in nature, rather than a sentient higher power that cares deeply about our every thought or notion.

alice sweet alice 1976

Seems like maybe Alfred Sole had a similar thought process about Catholicism as evidenced by the quite anti-organised religion sentiments at work in Alice, Sweet Alice, a quirky, plot and character driven pre-Halloween production that draws some inspiration from the Italian giallo subset.

“Parents so often don’t know their children as well as they presume,” says a shrink of Catherine’s troublesome oldest, Alice (Sheppard, who was 19 playing 12), who is mean to her little sister Karen (Brooke Shields in her debut), and runs around their rooming house with a creepy plastic mask on, torments the obese, predatory landlord, and is known for explaining away the messes she gets into as accidents.

alice sweet alice 1976

This excuse might not fly when good little Karen is murdered before she can take her first communion by a figure in the uniform yellow rainmack all the parishioners of their church have and Alice’s creepy mask. Where was she at the time? Why is she such a little bitch? Hang on, is this 1961!??

Yes. It is. Took me a while to notice it, but the film is set in 1961, making it that über rare non-contemporary slasher movie. Catherine’s ex-husband returns to mourn his daughter and stick around until the cops can work out who is responsible. When his squawking, shrill sister-in-law is attacked ‘by Alice’, the girl is carted off to a children’s hospital for observation as she’s now the chief suspect.

alice sweet alice 1976

The film takes the unusual step of revealing who the killer is the next time they strike and it’s a genuine surprise, affording the remaining ~40 minutes to pivot between their deteriorating psychosis as they try to justify what they’ve done in the name of their beliefs, and the tail-end of the investigation, with a few more stabbings thrown in for good measure.

I underrated this film for some time and my recent re-watch showed that the attention to characters and (for its era) interesting photographic setups are where its appeal lies. It’s almost as if Catherine and her ex (with whom she is amicable – a nice change) are the only sane people in a world where pomp and ceremony are prioritised over psychological well-being. Alice is an undeniably strange little kid who evokes little sympathy for her plight given her sadistic behaviour, which provides the ultimate commentary on the motivation of the actual killer, who feels they have more right to forgiveness than a divorced mother who married after she got pregnant.

alice sweet alice 1976

It’d be nice if subsequent slasher movies had as much to say on deeper issues, rather than dance around the edges claiming to be nihilistic protests over censorship. This is clearly a standout American film, one that deserves a lot more recognition than it ever got.

Blurbs-of-interest: Alfred Sole later directed the slasher parody Pandemonium.


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