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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Satanism > Children > Who Can Kill A Child? (1976/Dark Sky Films) + Devil Times Five (1974/Code Red/BCI DVD)

Who Can Kill A Child? (1976/Dark Sky Films) + Devil Times Five (1974/Code Red/BCI DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+/C     Extras: C     Films: C+/C



For years, many have tried to recreate the success of Village Of The Damned, the British Sci-Fi/Horror genre classic that even had a decent sequel and mixed John Carpenter remake, but the attempts have often been interesting.  Two of them have recently arrived on DVD and are worth catching for fans and those interested in seeing something different.


The first and better of the two films is the more serious Spanish effort Who Can Kill A Child? (1976, aka Island Of The Damned) in which British tourists go to a warm island off the coast of Spain and expect to have a great time.  Instead, they discover the place has few adults and a bunch of children.  Who killed the adults?  How can there be so many orphans?  Is it genocide?  Well, it was not other adults, a disease or any invasion, as they slowly discover.  Can they discover it is the “orphans” before it is too late?  Lewis Fiander and Prunella Ransome play the couple, while the children (in the best Neo-realist style) are the forsaken… or something like that.


After a bus accident, where everyone should have died, the adults are gone, but the children survive.  Too bad they are possessed by Satan in Sean MacGregor’s Devil Times Five (1974) in which a very young Leif Garrett plays one of the five killer children!  He is actually better than you’d think, but the film also sports a better cast than many B-films of the time including Taylor Lacher, John Durren, Henry Beckman (Night Gallery, X-Files, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Werewolf,) Shelley Morrison (Will & Grace) and Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg from The Dukes Of Hazzard in a serious performance) resulting in a very interesting film, even when things go wrong.


The problem here is that some of the attempts at terror and suspense do not work, including a bad slow motion murder sequence that is trying to conjure Clockwork Orange, but is so boring that you’ll conjure an alarm clock!


There is also some bad editing, bad pacing, dated moments and other unintentional howlers that stop this from being menacing.  However, it is ambitious enough and is still very amusing in enough places to see it once if it sounds good to you.  I give the veteran actors credit for giving it their best shot in sometimes limited material.  Still, both deserve to be on DVD and are still far better than most such works we have seen lately in what has become a glut of very bad Horror with no suspense, substance or story.  Needless to say the children in Child are more chilling.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image in both cases looks good for their age, with good color and some good shooting, but detail and depth can be an issue and hopefully will be less so whenever they arrive on Blu-ray.  José Luis Alcaine lensed Child effectively with outdoor work that gives the island a slightly creepy quality as if it were possessed, though the script does not even imply that.  It is an approach that still helps the film.  Devil was co-lensed by Director of Photography Paul Hipp, whose oddly good looking B-movies include Superchick and Hangar 18.  Michael Shea also shot the film in a series of Bs including Unholy Rollers and The Photographer.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on both films show their age, though Devil has more compression than it should, even for its age.  That affects the score by the underrated William Loose, who composed and conducted the music here to interesting effect.  After work in the Tarzan revival of the 1960s, he created stock music for George Romero’s original Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and other B-movie, camp classics (Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Loose Shoes) and Horror titles before working in specials to promote the original Star Wars trilogy.  Think of that when you listen to the score.  Waldo de los Rios (A Town Called Bastard) delivers a fine score for Child that adds to the film’s effectiveness.


Extras on Child include a featurette with Alcaine called Who Could Shoot A Child, stills and Child Director featurette with Serrador, while Devil includes stills, trailer, on-camera interviews and an audio commentary by Producer Michael Blowitz, co-star Dawn Lyn, co-star Joan McCall and uncredited co-writer David Sheldon hosted by Darren Gross.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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