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1980 Movie Reviews – The Children, The Island, and Wholly Moses!

by Sean P. Aune | June 13, 2020June 13, 2020 2:53 pm EDT

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1980 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.

We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly three dozen.

Yes, we’re insane, but 1980 was that great of a year for film.

The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1980 so that it is their true 40th anniversaries. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.

This time around it’s June 13, 1980, and we’re off to see The Children, The Island and Wholly Moses!

Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to a couple of episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.

1980 Movie Project - The Children - 01

The Children

On a good day, kids are creepy. Now, imagine that they also have radioactive powers and want to hug you while smiling a super creepy smile?

You’ve just imagined The Children.

The Children is a completely forgettable 1980 horror film that wastes no time in setting up its, “industrial accident leads to killer radioactive zombie children” premise, but then fails to fill in any other holes. You have zero concept of who any of the characters are or the relationships to one another.

Lets take the character of Dee Dee Shore (Rita Montone). When people start dying, the sheriff goes to see her and fill her in. Okay… but… why? Then later, Sandford Butler-Jones (Martin Brennan) comes to town and wants to get through the barricade set up by a deputy. Who does he call to convince the deputy he should be allowed in? Dee Dee.


Oh yeah, and you never see Sanford again. He just drives off into the ether apparently.

But where the film goes completely off the rails is you see the mist form that will turn the kids into radioactive zombies, you assume it’s localized. Later in the movie you hear a radio report that it is happening all over the region. No clue how or why, but it is.

If anything, The Children felt like a relic of your 1950s and 60s B-films that someone just decided, “Oh, what the heck… lets make it for fun.”

1980 Movie Project - The Island - 02

The Island

The 1980s were a weird decade for Michael Caine. If he isn’t sleeping with underage girls in Blame it on Rio, apparently, he’s being kidnapped by pirates and being forced to perform frig-frig.

The Island is a completely insane film that kicks off with the concept that over 600 ships have gone missing in the Caribbean over a three-year span, and… no one cares? And even after reporter Blair Maynard (Caine) feels it’s worth a story, he has to go there on his own on the weekend he has custody of his son, Justin (Jeffrey Frank).

Things go wrong and it turns out that all of these boats have gone missing due to inbred pirates that have lived in seclusion on an island for years. They capture the Maynard family, but not until Blair kills one who was married. His wife now demands that he “make good frig-frig” with her so she can have a baby.

It is a completely bonker movies that I really should dislike, and yet, I can’t stop talking about it with friends and family. You will never hear me refer to it as a ‘good’ movie, but it certainly grabs your attention and makes you want to see if you want to see if you can turn frig-frig into a curse word.

1980 Movie Project - Wholly Moses - 01

Wholly Moses!

Wholly Moses! desperately wanted to be a series of Saturday Night Live skits about the Old Testament, but it just forget to make any of them funny.

I would say it was trying to go down the same road as Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, just with Moses as opposed to Jesus, but that would be giving it way too much credit for the effort.

Besides a checklist of incredibly funny people such as Madeline Khan and Richard Pryor making insanely brief cameos, there is just nothing really here to enjoy. Herschel’s (Dudley Moore) life has run parallel to Moses’ since birth and it has led him to believe he was he chosen one. He wasn’t.

The movie certainly tries to elicit laughs, but it just never gets there.

1980 Movie Reviews will return on June 20 with The Blues Brothers, Brubaker, and Can’t Stop the Music!


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Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing