This week's VHS is Bruce Malmuth's 1986 effort Where Are the Children?
A mother (Jill Clayburgh) desperately tries to find her two children after they are abducted for their backyard.
I dug this one out as it seemed appropriate given recent headlines. I had no idea what to expect from this title – that it was written by Jack Sholder (of The Hidden fame) was what initially sold me – but I was pleasantly surprised by it. Based on a novel by prolific novelist Mary Higgins Clark (her first bestseller in fact), I found this story to be very engaging. Under Malmuth's direction, who over the course of his career worked with such action stars as Stallone, Dolph and Seagal, Where Are the Children? remained inherently watchable.
I really appreciated the pace of this film, as it fully embodied the expediency of the pulp it was derived from. The denizens of the Cape Cod town (which including perhaps the sassiest paperboy ever put to film) were swiftly established and the villain's plan was set in motion almost immediately. Where Are the Children? featured so many familiar faces to me, including Clifton James (who will to me always be Sheriff Pepper from Roger Moore era James Bond), Frederick Forrest & Bernard Hughes. The latter was killing me because his voice was so familiar, but I couldn't place him. Imdb bailed me out by telling me he was Grandpa in The Lost Boys.
|Jill Clayburgh in Where Are the Children?|
Now, the action was somewhat clumsy and the two child actors were a tad uneven, but I thought the storytelling was pretty sound. And it gets pretty fucking dark toward the end. It got me thinking about child murders and I have to wonder how any of my generation – the ones who roamed free from summer sunrise to sunset – survived childhood. Considering how much time I spent exploring the forests near my home, it amazes me that I never ended up on a milk carton. Were there less perverts back then, or did you just never hear about them?
|The kids are NOT all right.|
Anyhoo, Where Are the Children? is worth a watch if you are into pulp thrillers and the work of Clark. I obviously haven't read the book, but I wouldn't be the least surprised if this was a fairly accurate representation of it. I wager parents will hug their kids a little tighter post-viewing though.