Wednesday, November 16, 2011


In the seaside town of Weymouth, England, American McDonald Carey gets beaten up by some "teddy boys," leather-clad hooligans on motorcycles, when he gets friendly with Shirley Ann Field. Turns out her brother (Oliver Reed) is the head of the toughs and they routinely use Field as bait to prey on older tourist types. However this time, Field is tired of the rough games and gets friendly right back with Carey. More or less on the run from Reed, they meet up with a free-spirited sculptress (Viveca Lindfors) who lives on a hilly beach, and scientist Alexander Knox who is conducting some secret research at a nearby compound--I initially assumed that Lindfors was Knox's kept woman, but actually she might be "keeping" him. When Reed catches up with Carey and Field, they all wind up in a cave where they discover a group of cold-blooded children, the subjects of Knox's experiments. They've been exposed to radiation since birth and would theoretically be capable of surviving in a post-nuclear holocaust world, but what Carey and Field don't know is that the children are also radioactive.

One of the reasons this film has a reputation is also one of its faults: it's an odd mix of genres. For the first half-hour or so, it's a gang movie, and a fairly uninteresting one at that. The middle-aged Carey is boring, Field is nothing special, and the creepy incest vibe between Reed and Field is really all it has going for it. But Lindfors and Knox, by far the best actors here, save the day, along with the radioactive kids. The film would have been better if it had spent more time on this story, and perhaps let us get to know a couple of the kids. The film has a downbeat ending, which fits with its generally downbeat mood. Flawed but worth seeing. [DVD]

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