Take a Drink: for Spanish customs
“That’s called a peen-yata!”
Take a Drink: for terrible Spanish
Take a Drink: every time we find out just who can kill a child… finally
Take a Drink: every time you scream “just leave already!” at the screen
Do a Shot: for giggles
By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
I’m a teacher, not long ago of teenagers, so when I heard there was a cult horror film about a man who had to fight his way through a town of murderous children, I was pretty excited.
I said sit down and shut up!
The opening montage of Who Can Kill a Child? kind of squashed that perverse glee, though. After opening with a newsreel montage of atrocities on children from Nazis to the Nigerian Civil War, we segue to the story of a British couple vacationing in Spain, who make the ill-fated decision to boat out to a sparsely inhabited island. When they get there, it’s strangely quiet, except for all the kids running around…
That opening montage is the best, and and scariest, part of the film, made doubly so by the grainy zooms and freeze frames and that indescribably creepy children’s song director Narciso Ibanez Serrador employs. It’s also a huge departure from the film that follows it, which is a cheesy, very 70s, giallo-style horror film complete with cheap effects, bad acting, and goofy camerawork and edits. Of course, this too has its particular pleasures, and I have to admit that in the end, when Serrador finally gets to the marquee stuff, it’s a pretty great example of its genre. I mean, those kids coming down the ridge, or that hilarious look on the four year old with the pistol’s face are just classic.
I know I said the acting was bad in the last section, bu, well… it’s pretty bad. Prunella Ransome as the wife is particularly awful. Her death scene is a masterclass in hilariously overblown operatics. There’s also some bad dubbing, which is maybe to be expected, and the smooth 70s score sounds like something your parents play at their key parties.
Literally five minutes after you went off to college.
The plot’s built entirely around stupid decisions. Oh, the town appears to be entirely deserted? Let’s just waltz into a store and steal what we need. The evil children show up to convert the fisherwoman’s kids? Don’t tell her, just let her die. The children drop a pistol for you to grab? Nope, just leave it. Worst, and paramount, why not get the fuck out of town the very second you witness a brutal street murder? The kids don’t even bother to scuttle or even move their boat. It’s literally just sitting there at the end of the movie. The kids basically dare the couple to make a single smart decision, secure in their knowledge that they never will.
This is all cult horror flick old hat, of course. The principal failing of Who Can Kill a Child? is its failure to commit. That horrific montage suggests something more cerebral- a world gone mad where children’s only hope is to rid themselves of the society that constantly victimizes them. The whole rest of the film suggests an exploitation flick full of violence on scores of vicious, stonehearted kids. Unfortunately, it takes the vast majority of the film to get to the salacious stuff it was always heading for anyway, that montage notwithstanding.
Two hours of this woulda been perfect.
Who Can Kill a Child? only delivers on its promise for about 20 minutes, but those 20 minutes are pretty awesome.