Who Can Kill A Child? (1976)

JUNE 28, 2009


The question in the title of Who Can Kill A Child? (Spanish: ¿Quién Puede Matar A Un Niño?) is merely a rhetorical one, but the answer is pretty obvious after a while: the hero of this movie. While his wife never really shines on the whole “they are trying to kill us so it’s only fair that we defend ourselves” idea, dude practically embraces it after a while, machine-gunning the little bastards and smacking them around with oars and such. If they were to remake this movie, they simply have to cast Tom Jane in the role, since he’s proven to be good at such activity (The Mist) and also he’s an awesome guy and could use a good role.

The great thing about this movie is how goddamn unnerving it is. They never really explain why all of the kids snapped and killed the adults (the answer seems to be supernaturally-based though; there’s a scene where an evil kid stares down one who seems to be normal, and then the normal one is crazy too), but that’s what makes it scary. Plus, the kids seem to be having a grand old time, which makes it even scarier. The turning point comes when a really small one crawls into a duct in order to shoot our heroes, who have trapped themselves in a room. The kid smiles a big shit-eating grin before cocking the hammer, only to be gunned down by the hero, much to his wife’s horror.

Speaking of the wife, it’s not often I yell at a character in a movie, but I had no choice to do so when the dumb broad grabbed the steering wheel away from her husband, who was about to run over a bunch of kids in order to escape the town. The car crashes and they have to proceed on foot. If I was the husband, I can guarantee that if we managed to escape, I would be calling a divorce lawyer by the time we got back to safety. Not only did she ensure their doom, she also kept the audience from the awesome sight of a bunch of murderous children being run over. Lose-lose.

A couple of technical blunders could help make the case for a remake (which as far as I know, will never happen due to the fact that horror filmmakers today are mostly pussies when it comes to this particular subject matter). For starters, the blood is pink. Even Dawn of the Dead’s is more realistic. And there’s not a lot of it, which actually makes it worse. In Dawn, after a while you just got used to it, but here, it’s used so sparingly, it distracts every time. Also, the sound design is a bit annoying. The “La la la” music, meant to be creepy, is just irritating after the first time it’s used. It also jumps around a lot (though this might be the fault of the DVD, Dark Sky certainly fucked up before with the sound on their releases), so be prepared to keep your finger on the volume button so you can turn up some dialogue scenes and then turn down loud and shrill action bits.

Speaking of the dialogue, another thing I loved was how the couple spoke English when they were alone, but Spanish when they were talking to others (well, the husband does anyway). I always hate movies that feature people traveling to another country, yet the dub has everyone speaking the same language all the time. It adds a layer of realism to the film that you don’t often see.

Having just watched Children Of The Corn, and also Vinyan a few weeks ago, it’s even more impressive how much I enjoyed the film, and I want to thank HMAD reader Chris for recommending it.. They’re all basically the same movie (the creators of both have admitted to this film’s influence), but this is easily the best of the lot. The grim ending alone puts it above Children, and unlike Vinyan, it dives right into the horror aspect of it all, instead of endless bickering between the parents. Also, the island setting reminds me a lot of the one in Antropophagus, so there’s another check in the “pro” column.

The DVD has a few bonus features, which is nice as so many of these obscure Spanish films don’t have a goddamn thing. One is an interview with director of photography José Luis Alcaine, and the other is with director Narciso Ibáñez Serrador (who also directed Blame, something I was not aware of until after I watched the film). Both interviews are quite good, and contain the usual candid attitude that I love about these 70s guys (Serrador admits he didn’t like lead actor Lewis Fiander). There’s also a still gallery but I didn’t bother with it. There is also another unadvertised bonus, and that is the MOST ANNOYING MENU LOOP EVER! Good god, I made the mistake of putting the DVD in and then going to the bathroom, and had to endure 10 seconds of overly loud children laughing and 3 or 4 notes of music repeating over and over and over. By the time I was able to run over and hit play I began to wish that I had wiped my ass with the DVD instead of TP. This sort of helps my theory that the film’s sound issues are the fault of Dark Sky and not the film, however, so that’s good.

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. Absolutely agree here, easily one of my new favorite genre films. Beautifully shot, chilling, and AWESOME.

  2. You should seek out a copy of La Residencia (A.K.A. The House That Screamed) from the same director. I'd call it a masterpiece, with the direction up there with guys like Hitchcock and Argento. While not quite as great as Psycho or Suspiria, the skill that went into making it is very striking. I really liked how Serrador also handled some of the murder scenes (which I won't spoil here); they're not energetic like those of Argento (or Psycho's shower scene), but they're very dreamy and unnerving.
    I haven't yet watched this one (though I have had the DVD for some time), but your review certainly has re-piqued my interest.

  3. The only thing I didn't like about this movie is the opening sequence with the montage of documentary footage. It seems kind of crass to put real footage of children suffering into your "Killer Kid" horror movie (I think the director admits in the DVD interview that putting it at the beginning of movie was, in retrospect, a mistake, if I remember correctly).

    But otherwise, great movie.

  4. Yeah he says he should have put it at the end as if to further emphasize the point (that kids have a good reason to fear adults). It just went on too long either way.

  5. Was fortunate enough to catch a rare big-screen showing of this last October during a 25 hour movie marathon in the Philadelphia area. Slow, moody, building up to that big moment that is totally worth it - terrible Dawn of the Dead blood aside.

  6. I'm going to see this tonight at Northwest Film Center. Glad to hear I have something to look forward to.

  7. Hilariously stupid movie where no one does anything rational with a typical 70s ending. I don't get how anyone takes it serious or thinks it's chilling, but it's pretty funny.

  8. I've watched this one twice in the last month and it has definitely made its way onto my "favorites" list.

  9. Wow, what a kick ass horror movie. I'll never look at my 6 year-old daughter the same way again.

    The footage was pointless, though. It did not even show that children are the greatest victims, since we saw a bunch of adults having the same fate. I guess the premise is so crazy you have to somehow try to make some sense of it.


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