The Living Dead franchise is one to the best known zombie franchises to this day, which leads one to wonder: What the hell went wrong with this film?
Written by Karen L. Wolf and directed by Tor Ramsey, this was meant as a sequel to Night of the Living Dead (1968), Children of the Living Dead (2001) was a terrible attempt at continuation, and not only due to the fact that George A. Romero had nothing to do with it.
Terrible script, terrible plot, terrible acting, and general lack of heart and soul is what brings this film down to the very lowest rungs of the zombie genre.
So What’s It About?
Essentially, Children of the Living Dead is about a car dealership being built in the hometown of a character called Abbott Hayes (A. Barrett Worland). Hayes was a serial rapist and murderer who was sentenced to death, but whose body was never found.
When building commences, some mysterious things start to happen when the construction crew starts building on top of a graveyard, and start illegally moving bodies from the graveyard into a makeshift into a mass grave. And when we say ‘mysterious things start to happen’, we mean things like the coffins being empty of any bodies at all. All while a very decayed looking man, a man one can only assume is Abbott Hayes, is sighted wandering around the forests and countries of the small town.
This would have been an okay plot to follow, if it didn’t take the movie almost forty-five minutes and halfway into the film to even get to this point. Instead, the whole first half of the film is spent recollecting what happened in 1986, following around Deputy Hughs (Tom Savini), a character that barely contributes to the story at all, as he massacres zombies, performs stunts, and then saves some school children from being locked in a barn. Why were these kids locked in this barn? I have no idea; it would be one of the many plot holes of the film.
It almost seems like Tom Savini’s character is shoehorned in to give some pedigree to this zombie film and to maintain some lineage to Romero’s films. Savini is probably best known for his special-effects work for Romero on films like ‘Dawn of the Dead‘ (1978) and ‘Day of the Dead‘ (1985).
The show goes on and moves us forwards in time to the present day, trying to follow a few characters, but none of them really striking out as a main protagonist. So, you get to watch as Deputy Randolph (Martin Schiff) acts as the classic shifty police officer giving shady advice and making even shadier deals; you follow Matthew Michaels (Damien Luvara), the car dealer’s son, as he learns the ropes of being a business-man and sees some unnerving things at his family’s construction site; and you feel for Laurie Danesi (Jamie McCoy) as she deals with the loss of her friends and family, working at the local diner and telling people about the myths around Abbott Hayes. You know, before they are all attacked by a horde of the undead.
And although I am not going to spoil the ending of the film for you, I feel utterly obliged to mention this one thing: the movie was left open for a sequel. Really? Was the writing of this film that good? Was the directing so utterly magnificent? Were the actors so incredibly talented, that this film had to be left open for a sequel? Where the profits off of this film expected to be so great that it would be extremely beneficial to leave the plot hanging with this straight to DVD film? Let’s just say that for a budget of $5M this film could have been so much better, and invested a bit more in a decent ending.
How Was It Received?
This movie was received terribly and I can think of dozens of reasons why it was received so. For one, instead of letting director Tor Ramsey select his own film crew and set workers, writer Karen L. Wolf and franchise owner John A. Russo pushed Ramsey to use their own people.
Then when the director’s cut had been screened, Wolf took away all editing responsibilities from Ramsey, hired a new editor, and then had to correct a mess of plot holes she created. If the entire process had been done correctly in the first place, then maybe the film would have turned out a little better. There is something utterly dizzying about the amount of facial close ups, to the point that you feel a bit nauseous staring at the nose of a construction foreman while he discusses a something completely unrelated to the plot of the movie.
The worst camera shot though, of the entire movie, would be the artistic attempt at filming a conversation between Deputy Randolph and Matthew Michaels through the sunglasses of the deputy. It caused a certain amount of motion sickness that forced me to look away from the television screen for fear the contents of my stomach would be spewed all over the floor. Usually, in a zombie movie you would want to look away from the screen because the gore was simply too much, but instead you are looking away because the camera angles are making your stomach sick.
Children of the Living Dead is clearly just another straight to DVD monstrosity that was shit out by Hollywood producers trying to make a quick buck off of an already well-known movie franchise. It deserves to slowly rot in an unmarked grave.
Watch ‘Children of the Living Dead’:
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Kelsey B