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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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