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  Children Of The Living Dead
Tor A. Ramsey, 2001, USA
Rating: 1.2

Posted: March 13, 2003

The acting in Children Of The Living Dead is so utterly dreadful, it made me yearn for the theatrical prowess of Jean Claude Van Damme. Please do not confuse this offering with any of George Romero's works, for his efforts set the zombie movie genre standard so high that films like this can't even see it, much less reach it. This film starts off with a bang, with hundreds of the walking dead roaming the countryside while the local townsfolk and law enforcement types take up arms against them. Noted makeup wizard Tom Savini even makes an appearance as one of the zombie hunters -- look for him to score a way cool double zombie shot with a single bullet, and to pick off distant ghouls with a lever-action rifle he twirls around a la Chuck Connors in The Rifleman. Had this action continued, Children might have been a contender. Sadly, as this zombie uprising is (temporarily) quelled, so too are any hopes of this turning into a great zombie/action flick.

The film that's left revolves around Abbot Hayes, once a troubled kid with a mother who dressed him as a girl and treated him like the daughter she never had. Needless to say, this cat had serious issues, killed some girls around town, and was himself killed in prison. But Death's got nothing for Abbott's kind of evil, so he returns from the grave to kick around the barn in back of his old home. Who knew cross-dressing had supernatural repercussions? I guess this means we can all be on the lookout for a zombie RuPaul when he kicks the bucket. Anyway, some developers have come to town to build a car dealership. Only problem is, they've picked a small cemetery for their location. So Abbot Hayes shows up and bites some dudes, and they bite some dudes, and so on and so on. This, of course, leads to the ever-popular, often fabled construction-workers-versus-zombies bloodbath. The dialogue here really shines: The sheriff huddles up with the construction workers before they do battle with the undead, and advises them to "avoid contact with their teeth." With guidance like this, how can mankind lose?

Children takes a great horror premise and goes out of its way to wreck it. We need more zombie killing and far less bad acting and crappy dialogue. The guy who portrays the pitcher in Kool-Aid commercials has greater stage presence than anyone in this movie. If nothing else, Children serves to remind viewers of just how brilliant George Romero's Dead Trilogy is, and how it takes far more than the words "living dead" in the title to make a good zombie flick.

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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