Sometimes one comes across truly unusual DVD covers and weirdly titled horror films, which leave one merely scratching their heads over it; Suffer Little Children definitely fits into the second category. Fans of the genre often think a Horror Historian knows every movie in the genre, actually no, many, many movies came out in VHS during the 1980s worldwide, it is like today with the ease of ability to film movies on their iPhones, and no one can truly account for them all. This movie is definitely not for everyone, first clearly a raw product of the SOV (Shot-on-video) era, and thanks to Intervision Picture now getting the ability for the audiences to groan, laugh, simply ‘ugh’ to every scene in the movie. It did originally have a technical release from Films Galore, but it resulted in multiple issues, none of them particular good. Alan Briggs served as director (his only film) and wore the hats of special effects, editor, producer and sound department, in other words a DIY independent project with writing credit attributed to Meg Shanks. Even back in 1983, the film label itself a retelling of true events, however it’s considered highly unlikely any of this occurred, perhaps only through generalities. Regardless, the movie did achieve recognition on the UK’s video nasty list.
The story tries to connect subplots of Carrie (1976) and The Exorcist (1973) to an orphanage, plunged into devilish madness when caretakers Maurice (Colin Chamberlain) and Jenny (Ginny Rose) accept a strange mute girl named Elizabeth (Nicola Diana), who has a simple note with her. No authorities called, and soon inside she uses her special powers to start to control others, possessing their will and abilities to resist. One must watch for the bizarre slow motion zombie nightmare results in a basic non-gut munching picnic, with Elizabeth. Then a visit from a former resident, now a pop singer Mick Phillips (Jon Hollanz) for a benefit concert resulting in anarchy in the household, clearly it’s not rock-n-roll but rather pop music, which harms children. A final summoning ritual of evil, chanting “Come, Devil, Come!” image of Jesus Christ with crown of thorns appears to finish the evil, sort of, just enjoy the mayhem of blood gushing running rampant.
The viewers are likely to struggle through Suffer Little Children, not merely for a confusing story, but rather the numerous technical issues plaguing the entire production. This comes from various degrees of imperfections such as jump cuts, booming audio changing over to muddle tone, making dialogues hard to understand; as one needs to continually have their finger on the volume button. However, the acting suffers tremendously, stiff and very amateurish, with the silly special effects trying to equal the gore threshold, without any budget. In fact, listening to Briggs on the DVD extras one learns about the location problems and that the movie never actually had a final edit or color correction (which guarantees more groans and laughs when viewing it). Speaking of laughs, what for the supernatural powers of moving plotted plants on wires and thumping desks shown in a bizarre angle likely to avoid the hands of the people banging on it. The set designer, whoever it was, loved tigers; the reason for this, plenty of it decorates the walls, but plenty of time to see of it as the pacing seems way off the mark. This is simply a strange movie, entertaining perhaps on a bizarre level, some the complaints against the film come from parent advocacy groups calling the filmmakers satanic and forcing, cornering the children and their parents for the participation in the film. However, others found it condemning the love of Christ and the Christian religion, both aspects denied by the filmmakers, it’s the first time the accusations throw toward the horror genre, but it does date back to early eighties and element Satanic Panic.
Horror fans seeking more obscure movies especially in the SOV category might find this hidden treasure, a shining example of what the era truly held noting again the origin is from Britain. All in all, the enthusiasm carries well throughout the film, just making a passion project as it thanks in the credits Psycho (1960), Carrie (1976), Halloween (1978) and Mad Max (1979).
IMDb Rating: 4.3/10
Baron’s Rating: 4/10