13th Child (?) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I deliberately omitted the date above so that we can play a game. I'll tell you the cast, you tell me the year.

Cliff Robertson, Lesley-Anne Down, Christopher Atkins, Robert Guillaume.

If you guessed 1980, you made a helluva guess. Here are their career primes:

  • Robertson 1963-83
  • Down 1973-1981
  • Atkins 1980
  • Guillaume 1977-1980

Yup, a helluva guess!

But wrong.

The film was made in 2002. That fact alone tells you most of what you need to know about 13th Child.

Cliff Robertson not only turned in a truly bizarre, Gazzara-like performance, but also co-wrote the script, a fact which should impel Hollywood to erase his star from the walk of fame and to rescind his Oscar for Charly, because 13th Child is a truly amateurish film.

The film is a very loose interpretation of the legend of the Jersey Devil, a local folk tale from South Jersey. It seems that back around Revolutionary War times, a certain Mrs. Leeds of Leeds Point, New Jersey had a 13th child, and locked the child into the cellar for several reasons: because 13 is a satanic number, because she just didn't want any more children, and because she cracked from the pressure of having a Point named after her. They say that she said "this child will be a devil" as she gave birth to it. Eventually, that child escaped the cellar and became the murderous and immortal Jersey Devil, who lives on even today as Geraldo Rivera.

There are many versions of the legend, with myriad variations on the creature's origin. Maybe it was Mrs Shroud of Leeds Point, or Mrs Leeds of Estelville. Maybe it was an attic rather than a cellar which confined the creature, or maybe the baby turned immediately into a wraith who wandered the earth, returning to its mother's door every night with menacing knocks. Here is a web page dedicated to the whole phenomenon. I gather from the illustrations on that page that the beast looks like a cross between Satan himself and Lucky, the cereal-hoarding leprechaun.


Robyn Parsons shows her breasts before, during and after a sex scene.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic, 1.85. Not a very clear DVD, but I think the problem is with the original medium, not with the transfer to DVD.

The film has very little to do with that, but does feature a 13th child of an Indian Shaman, who escaped the gallows and became a murderous immortal being, as is the custom of all 13th children of Indian Shamans. It is said that 35% of the world's deaths each year are attributable to the 13th children of Shamans. Those nutty 13th kids just edge out starvation, disease, and drunken driving as the #1 killers in today's world.

I'm not sure if the film would have been better if it were made about the genuine folk legend of the Jersey Devil, but I'll tell ya this.

 It couldn't have been much worse.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews online

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a D. Bad movie. It's basically an F with a better-known cast, and that cast makes it interesting to watch, if for no other reason than to see formerly credible performers in laughable roles.

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