Fox // 1993 // 104 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 31st, 2004
Encyclopedia Broderick and the Case of the Serial Child-Killer.
In the land of Cleveland, there lives a man named Special Agent Stephen Broderick. He looks like Scott Glenn, the guy from Firestorm and Vertical Limit.
Special Agent Broderick works for the FBI. He is smart and brave. He also solves many crimes. But sometimes there are crimes even Special Agent Broderick can't solve. When he faces one of these mysteries, he knows immediately where to go. He goes home.
This is where Cleveland's biggest secret lives. It's Special Agent Broderick's son, Jesse.
Only his parents and teachers call him Jesse. Everyone else knows him as "Britannica," because he knows as much as an encyclopedia.
Britannica is the smartest kid in school. If knowledge were candy, he would be a candy store. In the summer, Britannica goes into business for himself. He charges neighborhood children 25 cents to help solve mysteries like who stole a bicycle pump and who lied about the size of their watermelon at the 4-H fair.
At night, he goes to work on some equally important cases. Special Agent Broderick brings his toughest mysteries to the dinner table, like the case of the kidnapped diplomat and the case of the decapitation hate crime. Britannica is usually able to solve them in an hour. Who knew that the world's greatest detective still steals his father's Penthouses?
The case facing Special Agent Broderick these days is especially tough. A man is about to die by lethal injection for murdering two children in Utah, years ago. Though that case had been closed, Britannica has unearthed some new evidence, via his advanced deductive reasoning and computer abilities: evidence that points to another killer!
Special Agent Broderick races to Utah, where he has precious few hours to prove the condemned man's innocence. Too late! The man dies and Special Agent Broderick and his super-sleuth son have an open case and new murderer to nab.
With no help at all from Special Agent Broderick's jerk FBI boss, who looks just like Kevin Sorbo of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, the father-son duo must race to crack the case of a depraved murderer, hideously abused by an ultra-religious parent, who now stalks, kills, and sodomizes children posthumously. It's a far cry from locating a missing bicycle pump, but Britannica is unafraid...and his dad is certainly not opposed to putting his son in grave danger!
HOW DOES BRITANNICA SURVIVE THE EVIL LAIR OF A MANIACAL MURDERER?
Never before have I seen a cinematic juxtaposition as witnessed on Slaughter of the Innocents. The movie contains scenes of shockingly gruesome and disturbing imagery, and brackets these with a goofy plot involving an FBI agent dad and his brainy son to whom he goes to for help.
I $%*& you not.
The movie opens with a Shining-esque scene, as a hapless mom finds her two children murdered at their remote Utah cabin. The scene is graphic, with kids lying on the floor, eyes opened, bathed in gallons of blood.
Then we've got Jesse the Wonder-kid clueing his dad into the fact that the wrong guy might be executed, thanks to evidence he just discovered on his computer. Where was this evidence or this sleuthing ability during the years and years of death row time the accused had been serving? Oh, Jesse was in pre-school!
Such is the narrative structure of Slaughter of the Innocents: brutal, graphic, crime scene imagery involving butchered kids with a cop and his kid "working the case" together.
There's even a scene of Broderick eating lunch with his son and asking "So, what do you think?" Donald J. Sobol should sue from beyond the grave.
Eventually, another child is captured, and the Dynamic Duo puts their butts into overdrive. Jesse is inexplicably left unattended, as he pursues the villain himself, ending up in the wacko's hiding place; a chamber of horrors where body parts hang from strings and eviscerated corpses hang freely. Jesse seems to manage absorbing this stuff okay.
Lastly, the movie closes with one of the most absurd endings ever.
BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Final Bad Guy Death here receives an 8 out of 10 "Drop Zones" (named after the movie featuring the finest FBGD), based mainly on creativity. Let's just say it involves a boat and a desert.
The movie was made in 1993, and the disc transfer looks even more dated. The colors are pretty flat and sequences get very grainy. Add to this it's a full-screen presentation, and the kudos are minimal. The stereo surround is unimpressive, though my subwoofer did get to do a few things here and there, which filled the room a little. No extras.
Disturbing...on many levels.
Solution to "The Case of the Serial Child Killer": The accused is noted for a truly unique viewing experience, but sentenced to six months in county lock-up anyway.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated R