RELEASED in 1980, but very much a film of the Seventies, Bloody Kids is a story about troubled Essex kids in a troubled England, served by a thin blue line of Essex coppers who themselves are cracking up.

It is not a comfortable film, but for local audiences it is full of delights, all no doubt completely unintended by its angry Marxist film-makers.

Chief among them are the south Essex locations. Roots Hall, the old Victoria shopping mall, and the Southend and Canvey esplanades all make prolonged appearances.

The real star location, though, is Furtherwick School, which provides the background for the first 20 minutes of the film.

Furtherwick, the oldest school on Canvey, was chosen because of its (then) run-down and shabby condition, and its long, dreary corridors. The school has since closed and been completely rebuilt to form part of the island’s Castle View School. Some may feel almost nostalgic about the vanished buildings preserved on celluloid, though they show why governments have placed so much emphasis on school reconstruction projects.

The other fascination of Bloody Kids is its line-up of the soon-to-be-famous. Among the young case are Brenda Fricker, who won the best supporting actress Oscar in 1989 for her role in My Left Foot. Also making appearances are a young, but already balding Mel Smith, and 20 year old Gwyneth Strong, who plays the girl-friend of gang member Gary Holton. A decade later she was to play Cassandra, the on-screen spouse of Rodney Trotter in Only Fools and Horses Among the gang of bad boys is Gary Olsen who later found fame as Ben in the early Nineties sitcom 2 Point 4 Children. Like others involved in Bloody Kids, Olsen died young. He was aged just 42 when cancer claimed him in 2000. The late Roger Lloyd- Pack, who achieved stardom as Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, and as farmer Owen Newitt in the Vicar of Dibley, here plays a hospital doctor.

In the director’s chair is Stephen Frears, Bad Kids was just the second film of the man who went on to give us The Queen, Philomena, My Beautiful Laundrette and Dangerous Liaisons, amongst many others. The script was written by Stephen Poliakoff, already recognised as a leading playwright at the time.

The making of this rather grim story generated its own real-life nightmare. Just a few days into filming, its young star Richard Beckinsale (father of Kate) suddenly died from heart failure.

The part was taken over by Gary Holton, who later played the wide boy Wayne in the Eighties TV series Auf Weidersehen Pet, about a gang of British construction workers on the loose in Germany. Holton also died young – from a heroin overdose in 1985, aged 33.

The narrative? In a nutshell, it concerns boys who go on the run after a mock fight turns all too real. The storyline, however, is nowadays the least absorbing aspect of Bloody Kids , a film about near-feral young people which left a wild legacy of its own.