• Suffer Little Children

    Released by: Intervision Picture Corp.
    Released on: August 29th, 2017.
    Director: Alan Briggs
    Cast: Colin Chamberlain, Ginny Rose, Jon Hollanz, Nicola Rose
    Year: 1983
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    The Movie:

    In the eighties a woman named Meg Shanks ran an acting school whose student base was made up primarily of kids. In 1983 she teamed up with a former concert promotor named Alan Briggs to make a low budget shot on video horror movie starring her students. Shanks wrote it, Briggs directed it. The end result was Suffer Little Children, and it is deliriously fucked up and wonderful.

    A text introduction tells us that the events portrayed in the film are a reconstruction of actual events that took place at 45 Kingston Road, New Malden, Surrey, England in August 1984. These events were kept out of the press and those involved were never heard from again. Spooky!

    From there, we travel to the film’s main location – The Sullivan Children's Home, run by Maurice (Colin Chamberlain) and Jenny (Ginny Rose). Things are going just swimmingly until they find a girl named Elizabeth (Nicola Diana) literally dropped off on their doorstep with a note asking them to take care of her. Complicating matters somewhat more is the fact that Elizabeth doesn’t speak. Almost as soon as Elizabeth is introduced into the mix, things get weird. A girl named Sarah, brash enough to ask Elizabeth ‘What’s wrong with you?’ gets a door slammed on her, a boy named Basil takes a tumble down the stairs and winds up in intensive care and two girls share the same dream about being chased by zombies!

    Meanwhile, a rock star named Mick (Jon Hollanz) who used to live in the home as a kid pays a visit. His roadie Hustler (Mark Insull) is along for the ride. Soon enough, Jenny and Mick fall for one another… but as they do, things get even weirder at the home. When the two go out to a club called Cloud Busters for a night on the town, they come home to absolute insanity as Elizabeth’s true nature makes itself know.

    Made for peanuts and looking very much like it was edited in camera, Suffer Little Children takes a little while to get going, but once it does – zowy! Killer kids, bad eighties fashions, an awesome synth score, plenty of tiger art adorning the walls of the derelict home used for the shoot, strobe lights, copious amounts of cheap gore and a surprise appearance from Jesus himself all collide to make for a genuinely whack-a-doo seventy five minutes of low budget cinematic whatthefuckery. Oh, and it’s even got its own theme song, that kind that’ll be stuck in your head for days afterwards – what more can you ask for? How about a small army of goofy kids running around with knives and scissors and other sharp pointy things worshipping the devil? You get that too.

    The fact that this was clearly acted by some pretty inexperienced students means nothing, because there’s so much enthusiasm here. Technical merits are weak – the movie is poorly shot, horribly lit, it’s got pacing issues and is at times too dialogue heavy. But man, that ending. So worth it.


    Suffer Little Children was shot on video so don’t expect Blu-ray quality here. The 1.33.1 fullframe transfer shows the odd tape roll or two and some tracking lines here and there. It’s soft, fuzzy and a little washed out. Darker scenes are a bit murky and detail is less than ideal. But hey, it is what it is. You can only do so much with material like this, so there you go. The screen caps below give you a perfectly accurate representation of the picture quality.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. Dialogue is sometimes a bit garbled sounding but most of the time it’s discernable enough. The score, which is all kinds of awesome, is way too loud in the mix and does occasionally drown out the actors. Thankfully Intervision has supplied optional English subtitles for this release and they do come in handy (even if they refer to Maurice as Morris).

    First up is a ten minute featurette entitled School Of Shock - An Interview With Director Alan Briggs in which he talks about how he got into directing after working as a concert promotor and how a divorce left him broke. From there he explains how he teamed up with Shanks on this project, what it was like directing the kids featured in the film, why they decided to make a horror picture, dealing with the low budget, the locations that were featured in the picture, how the film was picked up by Films Galore who basically used a work print rather than a final cut, and quite a bit more. Interesting stuff. Up next? Seducing The Gullible - An Interview With Legend of UK "Nasty" Era Fanzine Critique John Martin, a nine minute interview with Martin in which he details the issues that the film ran into with the BBFC, its relationship with the Video Nasties craze and distribution problems that Films Galore ran into once they were able to properly release the picture.

    Aside from that, look for a newly created (but admittedly quite effective) trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Suffer Little Children takes a little while to hit its stride but once it does, that last twenty minutes pays off and then some. Intervision’s DVD release presents the film in its full strength version and while the A/V quality is limited by the available source materials, the fact that this genuine obscurity is available on DVD at all, let alone with a few nice extras, is reason enough for some of us to celebrate – highly recommended!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Roderick's Avatar
      Roderick -
      Watch it with the subtitles on if you want to know what they saying half the time, but frankly most of it isn’t important. The climax is delightfully bonkers.