Cry Baby Lane (2000)

Theatrical Poster
Peter Lauer Peter Lauer
Jase Blankfort Jase Blankfort
Trey Rogers Trey Rogers
Frank Langella Frank Langella
Larc Spies Larc Spies
Anne Lange Anne Lange

5.4 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Children's / Family, Horror, Supernatural Horror, Teen Horror
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Review by Chad
Added: August 16, 2011
You've probably heard the story of Cry Baby Lane by now, considering that it's fairly big news across various sites. If not, well, here goes. Cry Baby Lane was a TV movie that aired on a Halloween edition of SNICK, Nickelodeon's Saturday night block of tween programming. It was a children's horror movie, much like their hit show Are You Afraid of the Dark?, but there was just one little problem: it was way too scary for the age demographic that it was aimed at. So said thousands of parents, anyway, and they bombarded Nickelodeon with complaints about their airing of this vile material. Thus, Nickelodeon never aired it again, sealed it away in their vaults, and pretended that it never even existed.

So, for the last eleven years, this film has been considered lost. Nobody recorded it, nobody uploaded it, it was never available on DVD or VHS, you couldn't get a bootleg from eBay, and there was no possible way to watch it. You either saw it when it aired, or you're never going to see it... that is, until reddit.com posted about it, somebody stepped up with a copy, and just like that, it was the most popular torrent online for a couple of days. I was one of the thousands of sad souls who grabbed a copy.

The story begins with two brothers, Andrew (Jase Blankfort) and Carl (Trey Rogers), heading over to the local undertaker's house for a night of scary stories. The undertaker, a charming fellow named Mr. Bennett (Frank Langella - yes, THAT Frank Langella), tells them the story of Cry Baby Lane. You see, an old farmer had a pair of Siamese twins, and being so ashamed of them, he hid them away in a barn and made them eat spiders and rats to stay alive. Over the years, it became obvious that one of the twins was "good", while the other was "evil." They eventually got sick and died, and the farmer - not wanting the world to know that he had Siamese twins for sons - split the two boys apart. He buried the good son in the cemetery, while the bad son was thrown in a field behind his house. Legend has it that you can still hear the boy crying at night, and thus, that patch of land is now known as Cry Baby Lane. Spooky, right?

Well, the boys decide to impress some of the local teenage girls, and what better way to impress than to scare the shit out of them? They take them out to the local cemetery and hold a seance on the "good" twin's grave, and lo and behold: the twin's spirit has arisen. Unfortunately, the undertaker failed to tell the boys that the bodies were switched, and the "bad" twin was actually buried in the graveyard. Yes, our lovable tykes have set the evil twin loose, and he wastes no time in possessing the town, making them... well, destroy mailboxes and egg houses. It's a Nickelodeon movie, what did you expect? Carl eventually gets possessed, and Andrew must face his fears to put an end to the evil spirit once and for all. Oh, and watch for a quickie appearance by Jim Gaffigan.

Honestly, I read a condensed version of that synopsis and thought that it sounded great for a kid's movie. I expected it to be a little corny and extremely watered down, but still, I thought that it sounded interesting. Also, with the fact that thousands of concerned parents complained about the content and got it yanked off the airwaves for eleven years, I was sort of curious to see what all of the fuss was about. Now that I've sat through it, I again have to ask: what was all of the fuss about?

This was a Nickelodeon movie, and thus, I knew going in that there wouldn't be titties or gore on display, but considering the complaints, I expected something: maybe somebody would die (remember the My Girl controversy?), or maybe there would be that one ultra-scary scene, or... something. No, the scariest thing about the movie is the many, many piles of worms that pop up (seriously, the filmmaker loved worms - they show up at least twenty times). Oh, and there's the evil twin himself, a guy with long fingernails who... yeah, he eats worms. Other than that and the appearance of a skull (the horror!), there is simply nothing scary here; this is nothing worse than what we all saw on Are You Afraid of the Dark? or Goosebumps for the younger kids, so I fail to see what the big deal was.

Controversy aside, I still didn't enjoy the movie. I realize that it was aimed at kids, but I'm cool with that. I still love those old Nickelodeon shows like the aforementioned Are You Afraid of the Dark?, as even though they were aimed at kids (and are extremely dated), they're still enjoyable. Cry Baby Lane is not. It has a story that could be remade into a bad b-movie for adults with better results, but as a children's movie, it's just bad. Alright, the people in town are possessed, but being a kiddie show, you can't have them kill people. Fine, I accept that. However, you're telling me that the best you can come up with is knocking over mailboxes and throwing eggs? C'mon!

My other big complaint is that there are no characters here that we can get behind and root for. The main character, Andrew, is supposed to be the hero, but how can we root for him when he acts like a giant pussy at every opportunity? Seriously, were we really supposed to root for a kid with what looked like collagen-injected lips who runs to his mommy when his big brother takes him out to hear a ghost story? Or, were we supposed to root for big brother, a farting machine who is obsessed with attitude-era wrestling? Maybe it was the undertaker who we were supposed to identify with, a man who readily admits that he is horrible at his job and who swindles customers at every opportunity, or maybe it was his nephew that we were supposed to fall in love with, a kid who looks like a Hot Topic reject who also happens to be about three points over the "retarded" level. Fuck, my money is on the stereotypical black kid who wants Andrew to marry his mom so that the poor little black boy can finally have a dad and stop hanging out at "The Hobbit Hole" with a Star Wars sword pretending to be a character in Lord of the Rings. I shit you not.

It's awesome that the community over at reddit.com were able to pull together to find a lost film and get it out there to the masses, but some films should stay lost. I have no problems with children-oriented horror films and have been known to enjoy them from time to time if they are done well, but this... this was not done well. I have a sneaking suspicion that there were actually zero complaints made and that Nickelodeon was just embarrassed by this hunk of shit, and thus, they did all that they could to bury it. It would not surprise me. 1/10.
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