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June 21, 2014

Movie Review: Dead Kids (1981, Blu-ray)

I’m not sure why but it seems I’ve been sent yet another film from the 80s. I don’t know what I did to get in the good graces of the powers that be (aka Jeff Dolniak). Please someone tell me so this happens again! Not that I don’t love watching the modern stuff, too, but it’s nice to have some throwbacks/classics come my way.

Dead Kids (aka Strange Behavior) sets the stage with a teenager sneaking a little ciggy in his room while his mom is downstairs preparing dinner. The power goes out and after the kid lights a candle and plays shadow puppets, he’s brutally murdered.

Chief of Police John Brady and his son, Pete, live in this tiny town of Galesburg. While dad is busy trying to solve the murder, Pete is trying to find a way to raise some quick cash so he can apply to the local university. Cue his bud, Oliver, who tells him about some scientific trials at Galesburg U where, if Pete volunteers to participate as a guinea pig, he can earn $100 per session (minimum two sessions required).

What could possibly go wrong?

Yep, these sessions involve behavior modification practices based on the recorded instructions of a dead professor, LaSange. When Pete signs up, the head technician, Gwen Parkinson, makes sure Pete hasn’t told his father about it. RED FLAG, PETE! RED FLAG! She then gives him a pill that supposed to make him smarter, increasing the connections in his brain, but really he just feels high 15 seconds after swallowing it. RED FLAG, PETE! RED FLAG!

After a few more murders, and a shit ton more red flags, CoP Brady believes these trials at the college are at the heart of everything. You see, his wife used to work for Dr. LaSange and in developing his crazy theories. John never believed her sudden death was anything but that bastard’s fault.

Beavis and Butthead: Origins.

Did I mention that he doesn’t believe the professor is dead? It would explain why he goes to dig the guy up.

As he goes after the university staff, Pete has his final session. Here’s where the shit gets real. Miz Parkinson jams a needle, with a syringe the size of an elephant’s trunk, into Pete’s eye and is then able to ‘program’ him to kill his dad.

Will John be able to expose the evil doings of the university program before it’s too late?


I found myself getting bored halfway through the film. Despite recognizing a lot of the actors (Louise Fletcher, Michael Murphy, Dan Shor, Marc McClure) the acting was spectacularly lackluster. Even the first murder seemed like someone talked Sloth into stabbing at a human shaped hunk of cheese. There was no energy. No one seemed to give a shit that they were filming a movie.

The story was interesting but not executed very well. I predicted each ‘twist’; I called the suspicious nature of John’s wife’s death. What I didn’t see coming was the Darth Vadar reveal near the end nor the surreal nature of the happy ending after all the crazy shit rocked this small town and, basically, a handful of people got away with murder.

We were emo BEFORE it was cool.

What I learned from this flick: if my dad is the sheriff, I can have booze even if I’m under 21. I can fake my own death by cutting off my legs and burying them in my coffin. Watching white people dance makes me feel dirty, and not in the fun sexy kind of way. And it’s been way too long since I heard someone refer to Montgomery Wards as ‘Monkey Wards’. 

I do enjoy a good behavior modification mad scientist flick but there’s got to be a better one out there.

1 Hatchet (out of 5)

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