Beware! Children at Play (Stomp Visual) (1989) (NTSC)

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Released 29-Aug-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Inter-active Tour of Troma Studios.
Audio Commentary-Director Mik Cribben
Introduction-Lloyd Kaufman
Credits
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 95
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Mik Cribben
Studio
Distributor
Stomp Visual Starring Michael Robertson
Rich Hamilton
Robin Lilly
Lori Tigrath
Jamie Krause
Sunshine Barrett
Mark Diekman
Mik Cribben
Susan Chandler
Herb Klinger
Lauren Cloud
Lorna Courtney
Danny McClaughlin
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI $12.95 Music Hershel Dwellingham


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   Beware! Children at Play squanders the perfectly good premise of subverting the Modern Zombie Film replacing fully-grown adult zombies with murderous young kids by making it dull as dishwater. Transgressing our civilised ideology that violence against minors is crossing a line, the highlight is the film's finale featuring 10 minutes of child-eviscerating goodness in which a ton of young-uns (and dummy caricatures) are loaded with squibs and blown away by the "heroes" of the film. Unfortunately, the prior 80 minutes is a boring amateurish retread of horror clichés that often borders on the unwatchable, with not a single character to identify with or care about.

   It's a Troma release, unfortunately not one of the better ones, and not of the decent quality of their own inhouse classics. This is director Mik Cribben's first and only film at the driver's seat, a very low budget affair from the late 80's lacking in taste and story; he also has a role in the film, as a farmer, and continues to work on films today. The lack of funds for the project is obvious with what's onscreen; one special feature on the DVD features an interview with Ron Jeremy, who says "The most amazing thing about a Troma movie is that they get made at all.... with what they spend on lunch at Hollywood is what they make a movie with at Troma." No doubt, and a lot of Troma's inhouse fare stands tall as enjoyable filmmaking despite budget-and-taste constraints; sadly, this affair is marred by poor technique and awful plotting, as well as bad acting and no reason to care.

   As if it matters, a family visiting a far-away town accidentally find themselves in danger at the hands of a cannibalistic cult recruiting young ones, who proceed to slaughter and eat adults and follow various horror tropes until the glorious ending. The taboo climax is the only part of the film worth staying awake for, in part because I can't imagine what was going on in the heads of the parents who agreed to let their offspring appear in this film. (See Bruno for more information on these type of people.) Shelve this one - save your pennies for genuine Troma classics like Toxie and Tromeo.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in at a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. I am unable to verify what the original aspect ratio was.

   All things considered - the low budget, the different film stock, the NTSC mastering - this is not a terrible video transfer. Despite having interlacing, grain and occasional artefacts, there's still a lot of detail and the colours are bright and good-looking. There is only occasional low level noise, with the darker scenes usually quite decent, and on the whole I was impressed - not because the transfer is particularly good, but because it isn't the bottom-of-the-barrel I've experienced with Troma of late.

   There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

   The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Mono).

   Beware! Children at Play sounds exactly as you'd expect - single channel, low quality mediocrity. Everything is nice and audible, so the dialogue, music and effects never get in the way of each other, but it's as no-frills as you can get. A mixed blessing, as the music is not particularly good, very much in the vein of "tension-building" 80's electronica that hasn't aged very well and is rarely very effective. The sounds of children growling over the closing credits is dandy.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Animated Menus with Sound

   The menus here are more difficult to navigate than the usual Troma fare - who knows what option takes you where, and to what end. Confusing!

Horrific Commentary with director Mik Cribben (3:54)

   Not actually a commentary track despite appearing as one on the DVD menu and cover, it's a short interview / introduction to the film with the director, who has some pretty good advice insofar as makeshift booms, and using different film stock in such a way that is (mostly) undetectable to the audience whilst being cost effective (this piece of advice is particularly relevant for young filmmakers today who wish to save money and can also use correction/post-processing software to make footage appear similar despite being different stock). He also talks briefly about having violence against children in the film and his thoughts; it's briefly interesting for fans.

Lloyd Kaufman Intro (1:34)

   Lloyd's introduction here is much less jokey than usual as he gives a brief anecdote about screening the trailer for the film before the Tromeo and Juliet premiere at Cannes and having half of the audience leave due to the violence.

Interactive Tour of Troma Studios

   The same interactive tour as seen on many of the Troma DVDs, this is great fun for fans with several sections to explore. Features extreme violence and gratuitous sexual content!

Aroma Du Troma (2:00)

   An extremely violent two minute montage of Troma clips advertising their most infamous films, with all the nudity and gore you can poke a stick at. It ends with a car flying through the air into a boat and exploding.

Lloyd Kaufman Reveals His Secrets (1:15)

   A short trailer for Lloyd’s book, featuring Michael Herz, Sgt Kabukiman, and a random scantily dressed girl.

Radiation March (0:53)

   An extremely strange, surreal dance clip that’s really a public service announcement against pollution. I have no idea what this is doing on this DVD, aside from being very clearly in the vein of Troma, it’s a bizarre though enjoyable addition to the package.

Kabukiman's Public Service Annoucement (2:47)

   Sgt Kabukiman discusses the dangers of compulsive masturbation with various amusing sight gags.

Public Service Annoucement (3:36)

   An excerpt from Troma’s Edge TV offering 90 seconds of uncut gratuitous nudity as a solution to those trapped in a hotel room unable to afford the cost of inhouse pornography.

Public Service Annoucement #2 (2:28)

   Al Gore (who's black) appears to talk to us about Global Warming, while two nearly-naked girls undress and make-out, rubbing ice on their bodies. Then there's fart jokes. This is actually my favourite special feature on the DVD, much much better than the film itself, and achieving exactly what Troma is attempting to do.

Gyno Talk (1:59)

   One of the random Troma girls of the month ("Tromettes") talks about the benefits of starring in Troma films as well as the roles of women in Troma in this short interview.

Junior's First Beheading

   A photo gallery from the film. 

Ron Jeremy and Charisma take Troma Naked (2:26)

   Ron Jeremy discusses why he and various Hollywood figures love Troma.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The only differences between the R1 and R4 of this disc is the same as other Troma releases - the trailers and intelligence test are stripped out for our release, otherwise everything is identical. If you must, buy the cheapest offering.

Summary

   Beware! Children at Play is a bad, bad movie that even the most die-hard Troma-loving B-grade fanboys will have difficulty enjoying.

   The video and audio transfers are appropriately low budget.

   The extras are the same as every other Troma DVD with little material actually related to this film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using Component output
DisplayPhilips 47PFL9732D 47-inch LCD . Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderLogitech 5500 THX.
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

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