(Theodore J. Flicker, 1977)
The glaringly low production values on this kids' horror-fantasy are part and parcel of what makes it so memorable. I can testify from vivid memory that the cardboard sets, regional-theatre costuming and cheesy texture of the movie are not lost on the young viewer, but if you're not trying to place yourself above the material ("that castle miniature is about a foot tall!" "oh my god the dolly track is right in the shot!") they can create a sense of alienation and displacement that actually deepens the impact. The bad guys - a chicken lady, a fish guy, and a creep in a fur coat - are memorably menacing and grotesque, and Alex Karras' Hooded Fang embodies the tightrope the film as a whole walks between the terrifying and the cute. Adults might even find themselves a tad creeped out, and for sure the film's passionate identification with the child's point of view holds more 'message' for us than for them. The kids themselves are fully into it in a wonderfully unschooled way - no child-actor precociousness here, just full-on playacting at its best. I 100% love the Child Power superhero duo and the cunning way they are deployed in the narrative.The loving-but-distracted-family bookend stuff is appropriately compact and efficient. And though the Lewis Furey-John Lissauer score is not well integrated, in the end it's as wonky and weird as the rest of it.