DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (QUIEN PUEDE MATAR A UN NINO?) (aka: ISLAND OF THE DAMNED) (director/writer: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador; screenwriters: Luis Peñafiel/from a novel by Juan Josí Plans; cinematographer: José Luis Alcaine; editors: Antonio Ramírez de Loaysa/Juan Serra; music: Waldo de los Ríos; cast:  Lewis Fiander (Tom), Prunella Ransome (Evelyn), Antonio Iranzo (Father of Crying Girl); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Manuel Salvador; Dark Sky; 1976-Argentina-English and Spanish with English subtitles)

 
"Unapologetic downbeat horror story."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Writer-director Narciso Ibáñez Serrador ("The House That Screamed") bases this unapologetic downbeat "Bad Kids" horror story on the premise that it's unthinkable to kill a child yet that is what has happened throughout the history of the world (the film opens with a montage from the recent atrocities against children shown on newsreels). In this gory revenge film, the children rebel and make war on all adults. It's based on the novel by Juan Josí Plans (Serrador claims the novel was written from his script). Though influenced by Night of the Living Dead and Lord of the Flies, Who Can Kill A Child? is a unique children's zombie tale of revenge that has a diverting pessimistic twist.

Fluent in Spanish medical biologist Tom (Lewis Fiander) and his ditzy pregnant wife Evelyn (Prunella Ransome) have left their two children home in England to take a holiday off the southern Spanish coast. When they find the mainland of Benavis too noisy and crowded because of the festival, the tourists rent a boat to visit the fictitious serene island of Almanzora--four hours away and with no telephone connections to the mainland. They find the town deserted of adults, only groups of children strangely staring at them and offering them eerie smiles. They soon discover dead bodies of adults and realize the kiddies aim to kill them. It's not explained how the children got this way, but Tom guesses a supernatural mysterious force must have driven them mad and made them band together. With the zombie-like children on a rampage, it becomes a question if the couple can escape their fury in their boat. At this point, the film runs out of ideas and fails to capitalize on the interesting premise. Instead it just gets into the blood and gore (probably no more than the usual cheesy horror pic of the day), thereby filling the screen with schlocky exploitation scenes and letting the ideas raised never be realized.

This version is the uncensored one and the one to see, as it was released in America in 1976 in a censored form as Island of the Damned.

REVIEWED ON 2/26/2010       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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