Suffer, Little Children (1983)
SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN
WRITER: Meg Shanks
DIRECTOR: Alan Briggs
STARRING: Colin Chamberlain as Maurice
Ginny Rose as Jenny
Jon Hollanz as Mick Philips
Nicola Diana as Elizabeth
QUICK CUT: An up and coming rock star returns to the children’s home he grew up in, and does his best to help out in their times of struggle.
Maurice - The man in charge of the children’s home, a good guy.
Jenny - Maurice’s co-administrator at the home. She’s a kind soul, always looking for ways to help the kids, and maybe a bit soft on them.
Mick - A rock star with a good heart.
Elizabeth - An orphan girl who gets dropped off at the doorstep of the children’s home one day, unable to speak.
TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back, Triskelions! I have returned, and this time, I dug out this super obscure little shot on video movie made in England, called Suffer, Little Children. This got a LOT of backlash at the time, because it's one of those movies that became a bit of an urban legend, and people genuinely believed it was a filmed massacre, where children were truly hurt. I am already fascinated by the backstory, but is that possibly more interesting than the actual movie? Let's find out!
OH good, homemade titles with one of those little input devices. Last seen around these parts on...Alien Beasts, I believe? Always a good sign of quality!
It probably didn't help all that controversy that the movie started with saying what we're about to watch are a reconstruction of events. I am endlessly fascinated by how guillible people can be.
We get shown around a children's home where a lot of kids are waiting to be adopted, and then a new girl gets dropped off, Elizabeth. She only has a note saying she can't speak, and this is the right place for her. What is this, the child drop off box?
Maurice and Jenny do their best to care for the girl, call a doctor to check her out, and have the authorities look around to see if they can find who dumped her on their doorstep, so there's that at least.
They introduce Lizzie to the other kids, some of them make fun of her and sudden BRAIN POWERS slam a door shut and the mean girl walks right into it when no one is looking.
And to punctuate the music ROCKING GUITAR kicks in. Okay this movie is sucking me in with its weird atmosphere and choices.
We also have a subplot with rocker Mick Phillips wanting to come by and visit, wanting to donate some money to the home to help them out. Maurice is a little grumpy about it because rock stars are kinda dodgy and might be a bad influence, but they do need that cash.
As they show Mick around, we kinda float around the house for various scenes and OH GOOD another movie where the music frequently drowns out the dialogue. Been awhile since I've had one of those.
Eventually, Mick meets Elizabeth and she remains her stoic, sadsack self, but he notices her looking at his cross, and gives it to her as a present. This does not help her be more popular, and just makes the other girls even more jealous.
We cut to that evening, and finally things start ramping up the weird. Elizabeth stares and makes strange hand motions at two of the girls, and we get a view inside their shared dream. They putter around some fields, find an abandoned shack, which suddenly bursts apart with SUDDEN ZOMBIE ATTACK.
The girls run, find Elizabeth having a picnic in a clearing, and join her. The zombies joing them as well, for a zombie jamboree.
Which leads to the two girls getting up, laying their heads in Lizzie's lap, and becoming her unwilling thralls.
Later, we get a call from the doctor who has determined there is no physical reason she can't talk, and the rest gets drowned out from more rockin' guitar.
Meanwhile though, one of the kids is shuffling up the stairs as best he can with a cane, and dude. Give him a room on the ground floor, c'mon.
Ahem. Anyways, he gets pushed down the stairs, apparently, and that causes a ruckus. They bring in two of the girls they think caused it, and grill them.
"This boy who can barely walk with a cane fell down the stairs, so you must have been bullying the other girl that made him fall!" Zuh? The logic here is...thin.
We spin our wheels for a bit while Liz and the girls do dark rituals in the attic, and Mick takes Jenny on a date to a dance club.
The movie suddenly jumps ahead, and we get to hear all about how six kids almost drowned and thanks for not sharing, movie! Although on their budget, probably for the best.
Maurice, the pompatous of love, tries to get to the bottom of THIS mystery, and asks Jenny for more information and she fills him and us in on the mischief. And he keeps drawing the conclusion that this is all because bad influence Mick showed up just as this all started. if only there was some other cause that happened at the same time...
Later, there's a birthday party at the home, and Mick shows up to help celebrate, with some music equipment. And they play this rockin' tune called SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN and that seems like a bad choice.
While the kids rock out with their socks out, Mick and Maurice the space cowboy have a chat in the office, patch things up, and start over. Then suddenly Maurice rushes off to a commotion that HAS NOT STARTED YET. He's psychic! Because THEN we hear screams.
The adults break up the fight, while Elizabeth silently laughs at the chaos she's apparently causing.
We kill more time with a scene between Jenny and Mick talking about his past and how lonely he is and we get it, he wants to be with Jenny.
They continue chatting with Maurice joining in, and they actually put things together, and put the proper blame on Elizabeth. Finally.
And while they're doing that, there's more epilepsy warnings going on up in the attic, as the girls do more rituals.
Even the kids are starting to notice there's strange things afoot at the Circle K, but are still wondering what's causing it.
One of the kids questions what's going on, and Elizabeth happens to overhear. She cranks up the rockin' score again and the kid jumps up all paranoid with a knife. When Maurice tries to calm her down, he gets stabbed for his troubles.
The movie cuts away, and in a bad edit there is a burst of static...but it actually completely works because with 19 minutes to go, this slow but strange movie? GOES THE FUCK OFF almost from here on out.
Elizabeth finally speaks, and it's a growly, raspy, evil voice that would make Reagan jealous.
This leads to chaos in the office as things start floating, the desks attack them, and everything gets hurled at the two adults. It's pretty awesome.
And all this is going on with that amazing guitar and drums in the background. It is weirdly intense for this sort of movie.
While the adults are locked up, Elizabeth raids the kitchen for knives and a meat tenderiser, and enlists as many kids as she can for a bit of a murder spree.
She gives a knife to a girl on her bed, and commands her to stab her leg, chanting do it! Do it! and man, this is GREAT.
The girls head up to the attic for some more of their black mass, and uh reused footage. They put Lizzie in a white robe and begin chanting, "Come devil come!"
Just then, Mick and Hustler arrive, get the adults out of the office, and send Jenny off to get the doctor. And if things weren't already at a boiling point, they positively simmer over and explode.
They try and reach the attic, but the minions attack. Maurice is the first to fall, staked to death by one of his charges. Mick is rushed by some kids, but being a rock star, he's used to this treatment and shrugs it all off.
Hustler gets the rest of the kids off Mick, but doesn't fair too well after that, and is overwhelmed with knives.
Mick manages to make it to the attic, but Satan's children stab him to the wall, in lieu of a crucifix. This entire batch of scenes are edited in such a way, flashing from one second to the next, smash zooms, reused footage, it is frenetic and hectic, throwing almost too much at the viewer, and it's GREAT.
The devil finally comes, and Elizabeth grows up in a quick fade effect. She embraces her two minions, as the lights flicker more than a Pokemon episode...
AND THEN PUNK ROCK LASER JESUS SHOWS UP TO SAVE THE DAY.
I am not exagerating. I shit you not. The devil has arisen, and suddenly, Jesus is just HERE in the attic, topless and with a crown of thorns amidst flickering lights, pointing his finger and going pew pew pew! at all the evil. What. The. FUUUCK.
Punk Rock Laser Jesus casts out the demons, I guess, and the movie has just enough time left for Jenny to return home with the doctor and see all the carnage. She brings us into the credits with her best Laura Palmer scream.
Video: The video is pretty rough, bring shot on video, and in Britain, and it shows. But it is what it is, and I can see what’s going on.
Audio: Sigh. I love the music, I just wish I could hear the dialogue underneath it!
Body Count: The movie is a slow burn, but it definitely makes up for lost time in the final act.
1 - An entire HOUR before our first death occurrs, when Lizzie makes the girl stab her leg to death.
2 - Mick stabs one of the kids that rushes him
3 - One of the kids pummels Maurice with a stake
4 - Kid gets accidentally staked when too many pounce Mick
5 - Hustler gets overwhelmed with knives.
6 - Mick gets crucified.
Best Corpse: The best of the dead is Maurice, who gets stabbed, then staked, repeatedly, then knifed through the head.
Blood Type - C: There’s not too much blood…at least until the very end and they spray the walls.
Sex Appeal: Nothing!
Drink Up! Every time you go WTF??
Video Nasties: Here’s the clip of the zombie nightmare!
Movie Review: Taking into account this was a movie made by kids as a school project almost, with very few skilled actors, and on a no string budget…it comes together pretty well. There’s some rookie editing mistakes, the audio issues, and the plot is thin, but it does what it sets out to do, and is pretty coherent. Three out of five crosses.
Entertainment Value: I…love this movie? It’s bizarre, it’s so dated, yet timeless, and it is a wonderful slow burn that just goes batshit in the final minutes. My first watch through I was kinda bored, but there was enough going on to keep me curious. And then the movie slapped me across the face, grabbed me by the shirt and rubbed my face all over it’s bonkerness. Five out of five punk rock laser Jesuses.