‘There is one birth announcement the world could do without.’
Little Devils: The Birth is a 1993 Canadian comedy horror film directed by George Pavlou (Rawhead Rex; Underworld) from a screenplay written by producer Elliott Stein.
The movie stars Russ Tamblyn (Necromancer; The Haunting 1963), Marc Price, Nancy Valen, Wayne McNamara, Stella Stevens (Megaconda; Glass Trap; Wacko; The Manitou; Arnold), Donald Saunders, Jerry Levitan, David Campbell, Henry Roth and Tania Leil.
There is only one thing in this world I like more than a Jaws rip-off: a Gremlins rip-off! From the cream of the crop (Critters) to the bottom of the barrel (Munchies), no matter how garbage a Gremlins rip is, I can’t help but have a good time. The needlessly lengthily titled Little Devils: The Birth is Canada’s contribution to the sub-genre.
Ed Reid (Marc Price) makes his living writing torrid tales for a smutty rag — a smutty rag that apparently everybody in this universe reads because everybody knows (and seemingly loves) his stories. Ed’s life is pretty okay. He has a pal named Doc (Russ Tamblyn). Doc hangs out with weird homeless people and can no longer get it up since his time as a med student cutting up cadavers. Despite his lack of libido, Doc still hangs out in exotic dance clubs.
Through Doc, Ed meets Lynn (Nancy Valen), a super hot lady who doesn’t take off her clothes when she dances. Ed’s existence isn’t all fun times with raunchy clubs and weird homeless people. His vacuum-obsessed landlady (Stella Stevens) is desperate to get it on with him. Oh, and his upstairs neighbour, Lionel (Wayne McNamara), is moulding ‘little devils’ out of living mud.
Lionel’s world is very much not peachy. It is, in fact, a total nightmare. His apartment is in chaos. He’s addicted to lemon soda. A couple of scenery-chewing gangsters want to chop his fingers off because of a debt he owes them. At first, it’s unclear if Lionel is insane or an evil vengeance-fuelled geek. But once the tiny mud devils he’s made begin their murderous rampage, we learn who’s really in charge.
Even before the monster madness kicks in, I was quite taken with the cast and characters of Little Devils. No one is necessarily good here, but everyone puts in a stellar effort. Marc Price hams it up something fierce. Even when he’s dancing, very much out of time, like a goof in his apartment or pretending to orgasm as Lynn shakes his hand, he is quite likeable in the leading role.
Wayne McNamara is equally fun as the sobbing, demented Lionel and gets the chance to turn into an unlikely protagonist in the film’s finale. Russ Tamblyn (The Haunting; Twin Peaks) is as cheesy and lovable as ever, and Nancy Valen brings a rebellious 90s charm to the proceedings.
However, it’s the final half an hour where the goo and goofs are pummelled onto the screen. The little devils themselves are stiff and awkward with limited facial expressions, but they’re adorable as hell. They each carry a different tiny weapon, which is a great touch. Though they lack the personality of a gremlin or even a munchie, their design is commendable and, more importantly, gooey.
Director George Pavlou, best known for Clive Barker-scribed Rawhead Rex (1986), keeps the action coming thick and fast. As the battle between humans and tiny monsters ensues, the music pounds out pulsating synth beats that would be more at home in an 80s film and blaring electronic guitars. People get set on fire. Monsters melt. All the action is captured competently and slickly.
I guess my tastes really don’t align with the users of IMDb. At this point in time, Little Devils: The Birth sits at a shockingly low 2.3 — a rating it is utterly, utterly undeserving of.
While this is no Gremlins, Little Devils: The Birth is a blast from start to finish. I went in expecting dull garbage, instead, I found scratching my head about its poor reputation. I would take Little Devils over Munchies or even Ghoulies (1984) any day. I would, however, not take it over Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (1991), but who would? That’s the Citizen Kane of Gremlins cash-ins.
Dave Jackson, guest reviewer via Mondo Exploito
“Right from the start, the film is full of humour and charm which says a lot about the writing and the cast bringing it to life. Rawhead Rex director George Pavlou keeps the pace going full throttle with little room to relax, which allows the film to run smoothly and hit no speed bumps along the way. The creatures are well designed…” Horror Screams Video Vault
” …it is surprising to see such a sad display from Pavlou in his third feature. Just check out the tomb set in the finale, which is clearly painted Styrofoam that is brightly lit as to bring out ever facet of its cheapness. If you can’t properly film a set, you know he isn’t going to get the FX right either. The dolls used for the devils are decent looking, but never shot with any intention of making them look like anything other than FX props being pushed around on rods.” Video Junkie
“There’s rats! I hate rats. They’re as bad as politicians.”
Until 2017, Little Devils: The Birth did not appear to be available on DVD outside of an obscure Brazilian release under the title of O Aniversário Do Demônio.
Little Devils: The Birth was released on DVD on June 6, 2017, by Shivers Entertainment, with just 25 VHS copies too.
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