Plot: A rash of murders has rocked the usually quiet town of Galesburg and police are stumped, as no clear pattern is evident. All of the killings involve knives, but the type of blade and stab wounds is different from one to the next. One corpse has wild, erratic stab wounds, while the next victim was sliced with near surgical precision. While the authorities continue to search for clues, the local college students focus on more fun activities. In addition to wild parties and alcohol binges, student Oliver (Mark McClure) spends some time at a local science lab, where he funds his hedonistic escapades by taking part in experiments. He soon convinces his friend Pete (Dan Shor) to join up and earn some quick cash, which leads to him being given a pill to increase his intellect and boost his overall mood. While he has no real proof, local police chief Brady (Michael Murphy) is convinced the science lab is involved in the murders. His own wife worked there and died under mysterious circumstances, but Brady is unaware that his son Pete is signed up for experiments. Is the lab just furthering scientific research or is there a darker side to these experiments?
Entertainment Value: Dead Kids was released during the slasher craze, but it refuses to be just another blood soaked body count picture. The movie still delivers creative kills, but also delivers psychological tension and a more than capable narrative. The small town vibe seems authentic and that includes the people, who come off as natural and not cliched stereotypes. I do wish we knew more about Gwen, as she is an interesting character that has to have some dark secrets. But she makes a more than capable tangible villain, with a cold, but seductive presence. The rest of the cast is solid, with good performances across the board. I would have liked more screen time for Louise Fletcher, but you can’t win them all. I also appreciated the pace, which moves briskly, but never feels like the story is being rushed. And you have to mention the music, from the eerie score of Tangerine Dream to the off the wall dance routine performed to Lightning Strikes. I think Dead Kids is a remarkable movie, as it bucks a lot of the genre trends of the time, but still satisfies what fans want from 80s horror. Anyone into 80s horror, medical horror, or ozploitation should check it out.
No nakedness. The violence quota is up to snuff however, with some creative kills that rise above the typical slasher fare. The scarecrow kill has been done before, but it is still effective here and stands out. We also have assorted stabbings, including a bathtub scene with colorful dismemberment. I can’t leave out the beautiful pissing blood scene either, lest we forget that gem. The most infamous scene from Dead Kids has to be one that involves a syringe of green goo and an eyeball, however. Just a cringe worthy effect that still packs a huge punch. Not a lot of colorful dialogue here, outside of some minor teen lingo here and there. The writing is good, don’t get me wrong, just not the outlandish or wacky lines that earn points here. Dead Kids earns some solid crazy points though, with the creative kills, Tor Johnson mask, creepy nurse, outrageous party scenes, and of course, a witch hunt against fat girls. Not an off the rails epic, but a well crafted horror movie that has some fun, off the wall moments.
Overall Insanity: 4/10