Dead Kids (1981)

Comments Off on Dead Kids (1981) 27 May 2015

Dead Kids blu ray

Studio: Severin

Theatrical Release: October 16, 1981

Blu Ray Release: March 11, 2014

Director: Michael Laughlin


Review by Travis North

Technically this could be considered “Ozploitation” since it was shot in Australia, but you could have fooled me. Dead Kids felt like total 80’s Midwestern semi-slasher horror. No Aussie accents or shots of the Outback can be found. Credit goes to the filmmakers for pulling that off, but did they make a good horror film?

As the movie started I was thinking this would be one of the countless, derivative slashers. There is a standard stalking/killing scene by an unseen murderer, and the kill is done in a laughably bad silhouette. Dead Kids quickly pulls up out of this nosedive though.

Dead KidzStudents of your average American high school make a few extra bucks by volunteering for medical experiments at the local college. They end up quickly showing a huge improvement in their grades, but there is the unfortunate side effect of urges to kill. Consider it a serial killer Flowers for Algernon. I don’t consider this much of a spoiler since the movie never pretends to hide who is doing the killing.

Dead KidsThere are multiple layers to the story regarding the obviously disturbed dead professor and his mind control experiment, as well as how this may tie into the previous deaths of people in town. Certainly not the run-of-the-mill plot I expected. I am willing to cut the story some slack since it is trying something different, but someone needs to tell me why they thought the ending worked.

DeadKidsThe technical aspects of this movie are a mixed bag. There are some impressive long takes and POV crane shots, but then there are quite a few jarring and awful edits. People get cut off mid-word more than once. Then there is the random shot of man ass as a son stands totally nude waiting for his dad to stop shaving. Hold on, one of the co-writers was Bill Condon, known for shitty movies and pillow biting. Now that scene makes more sense.

I have to point out that 80’s nostalgia buffs will love this. Here are a few key indicators; a Tangerine Dream soundtrack (also included as an isolated track), doctors who smoke in the office, a slutty 13 year old girl who sneaks out to parties (everyone laughs about what a whore she is), guys wearing fake Tuxedo t-shirts, and of course plenty of partying. It is also good to see Louise Fletcher’s character not being an evil nurse.

beerThe blu ray set contains both the Blu Ray and DVD version of the film, however I only watched the Blu Ray which looked great for a film of that era. There are trailers and two commentaries, but my favorite was the “Effects of Strange Behavior” interview with makeup artist Craig Reardon. Hearing his ingenuity and improvisations to inexpensively pull off some effects (including a cringe worth highlight) continues to raise my respect for a dying art. I’ll take his work over the armies of third world computer programmers throwing together typically unconvincing CGI for millions of dollars.

Fans of this film will of course need to get this version if they haven’t already. Recommended for anyone looking for something a little bit different in 80s horror.

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★★☆


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