Beware! Children at Play is a 1989 cannibal horror film directed by Mik Cribben and released by Troma.
A father and his son (named Glenn) go for a camping trip in the woods. Everything goes fine until Glenn's father winds up getting caught in a bear trap; unable to move, he slowly goes insane. Before he dies, he tells the boy to stay in the woods forever, and to feast off of those who come near him. The child complies, devouring his father...
Ten years later, sci-fi writer John DeWolfe (Michael Robertson) and his family drive to a small town. There, John meets up with his friend, sheriff Ross Carr. The two investigate a bizarre mystery in the town; children are disappearing, adults are quickly being found dead, and rumor has it that there is a boy going around the town, brainwashing children into becoming cannibals...
If there's at least one thing you know about this movie, it's probably its notorious ending, a graphic finale where all of the children are graphically killed off on-screen. Horror films about evil children are very common, but even the most graphic films of that type avoid showing their deaths. According to Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman, when this movie's trailer was played before a Cannes screening of Tromeo and Juliet, nearly half the theater left in disgust. Along with that, unlike most of the company's other films, this one is a relatively serious affair that doesn't have a lot of comedic moments in it. As such, it remains one of the most divisive titles in Troma's catalog.
This film contains the following tropes:
- Adult Fear: Your child disappearing is already a pretty scary thought, but your child being potentially brainwashed into a cannibalistic cult is another.
- Antagonist Title: The title, referring to the cannibalistic children.
- Content Warnings: The cover of the film's DVD and VHS releases carry a warning about its graphic content, and that it shouldn't be watched by pregnant women or those with heart conditions.
- Creepy Child: And how.
- Downer Ending: One of the children avoids getting killed in the finale, and creeps up on a rabbit, seemingly starting the film's plot all over again.
- Ghost Town: Made even ghostlier by the rapid disappearance of adults.
- Little "No": The Yankees hat boy moments before he gets his head blown up.
- No Name Given: The town has no official name given to it. The video release calls it Tromaville, but this is never mentioned in the film, and it has no ties to any other existing Troma property.
- Your Head Asplode: One of the boys meets his demise in this way.
- Zombie Infectee: In his Tales From The Internet review , Justin Whang refers to the infected children starting to turn normal and being killed by the others as an inversion of this trope.