Friday, October 11, 2019


Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 9
Total First Time Views: 3
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $640.53

Suffer Little Children (1983) d. Alan Briggs (UK) (75 min) (2nd viewing)

A London orphanage run by Jenny (Ginny Rose) and Maurice (Colin Chamberlain) inherits a brand new resident when the mute Elizabeth (Nicola Diana) shows up on their doorstep the very same that rock star Mick Philips (Jon Hollanz) returns to his childhood sanctuary to perform a benefit concert. As the Bad Movie Fates would have it, our new tyke is a bona-fide disciple of The Dark One and soon brings others under her sinister spell. Before you can say “swimming pool incident,” kids and adults are falling down staircases, stabbing themselves and others, and just making a general Satanic nuisance of themselves.

The hysterical (in every sense of the word) events culminate in a jaw-dropping finale that has to be seen to be believed, with a guest appearance by the only man on Earth and Heaven equipped to handle the situation.

Armed with a background in video production and inspired by watching his wife Meg Shanks’ New Malden drama students, rock concert promoter Briggs decided to produce an indie horror effort, feeling “it would be easy and we could make some money.” Through discussion groups and improvisations, the (very) loose script slowly came together; when the time came for casting, auditions were held within Shanks’ classes and the cameras were soon ready to roll.

Using an abandoned building (located around the corner from Briggs’ house) for the main set, the homegrown effort came together quickly over the course of 14 days for a total cost of 7,000 pounds sterling. Almost everyone involved in the production wore several hats, with camera operators trading time with set decorators and everything in between. Even our kicking title track is performed by lead actress Ginny Rose and partner Barry Gisbourne-Moor as “Djaada!”

To add a little mystique, the enterprising Briggs borrowed a bit of “based on a true story” ballyhoo a la Texas Chain Saw Massacre with an opening crawl stating the film was “…a reconstruction of the events that took place at 45 Kingston Road, New Malden, Surrey, England in August 1984.” (This outrageous claim was also included on the videocassette’s back jacket copy, along with the eye-catching tagline, “HOW IN GOD’S NAME DID THE POWER OF THE DEVIL FALL INTO THE HANDS OF A CHILD?”)

Speaking of that VHS release, the film probably would have never reached an audience at all were it not for the combined efforts of distributor Films Galore (run by “a complete lunatic,” according to Briggs) and the British Board of Film Censors, who were in the full swing of their Video Nasties moral panic. Copies of Suffer Little Children were subsequently confiscated during a raid of the Films Galore office and headlines like “Kids Horror Film Seized” trumpeted for weeks throughout the London press.

With random music tracks playing over dialogue scenes (usually followed by the sound cutting out abruptly), art direction consisting of a few posters (tigers seem to be very popular with the orphans), and cinematography that can generously be described as “energetic,” there’s never any question that we’re watching a professional production. But that is part of the film’s inherent charm, one that its creators wear proudly on their collective sleeves, closing with the following: “This movie was made by the students of Meg Shanks’ Drama School. They had no experience and no money, just determination and guts.”

In summation, this is yet another one of those wonderful and rare SOV (shot on video) jewels from the early ’80s, and for those lucky and adventurous souls willing to endure brutally inept sound recording, amateurish camerawork, impenetrable screenwriting, and clumsy thesping, the rewards are bountiful.


School of Shock: Interview with director Alan Briggs (10 min)

Seduction of the Gullible: Interview about the UK “Video Nasty” era with fanzine creator John Martin (9 min)

Optional English subtitles (which I guarantee you will want/need to use).

Suffer Little Children is available now on DVD from Intervision/Severin Films and can be ordered HERE:


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