Monday, March 23, 2015

childline.

It's almost the Easter holidays so time for something for the whole family.

Quien Puede A Un Nino? (AKA Death Is Child's Play, The Killer's Playground, Island of the Damned, Who Can Kill a Child?, Would You Kill a Child? 1976)
Dir: Narciso Ibanez Serrador.
Cast: Lewis Fiander, Prunella Ransome, Antonio Iranzo and the cast of Byker Grove.


  "Do you think the other children will start playing the way we do?"
"Oh, yes...there are lots of children in the world. Lots of them."


A pair of  particularly posh English love birds, the mightily moustached Tom and the pountily pregnant poppet Evelyn (Doctor Who's drug dealing tinker Tryst from The Nightmare of Eden Lewis Fiander and victim of the Silurian plague Prunella Ransome) are enjoying a well deserved break from drinking Pimms, watching cricket and abusing the staff with a holiday in sunny Spain, taking in the local lifestyle (letting your hair get greasy, not washing, seducing underage girls etc - possibly) and travelling to various festivals buying carpets and the like.

Whilst ordering food in English and sniggering at the locals trousers like all Brits abroad obviously.

After much saucy fun,bikini clad frolicking, vast amounts of el cheapo Vino and a fairly serious chat about abortion (Tom wanted Evelyn to have one, she refused - see it's a kinda child killing thing isn't it? I see what they did there), Tom decides to finish the holiday with a visit to the beautiful island of Almanzora (these days frequented by such luminaries as Ian Botham and Daley Thompson fact fans) and the small village of Shi'moo where he had many a magical holiday as a small (non moustached) boy.

Hmmm...another child reference. 

This  Serrador bloke is good.

But the couple get a shock on arriving at the island, the town is abandoned, the hotel is empty and the local restaurant is deserted. 


Worst of all tho' is that all the TeeVee's are broken and the corner shop is out of Take A Break magazines.
 

What has happened to this island paradise?


"Look! It's Fred Titmuss!"



Tom, being a hunky hero type  decides to play detective whilst  Evelyn, being in the fat lady pudding club, rests her swollen feet.


No sooner has Tom jauntily skipped down the road than a young girl pops up at a window and waves merrily at Evelyn before slowly creeping over and obsessively stroking our plump pals mummy tummy before smiling and running away.

Weird.

Returning to Evelyn empty handed save for a kiss me quick hat the pair, in a horror movie first decide to explore together, soon coming across an old man sitting at the roadside.


But I suppose that being heavily pregnant has put Evelyn off the sex so Tom has to get his jollies where he can.
 
But before the old fella can wipe himself down or even grunt "Aye son!" a small girl appears from nowhere and bludgeons him to death with his walking stick.
 

Kids eh?


Luckily the local kids fear the Bri-Nylon.


Finding the situation a wee bit strange and probably worthy of a bit of Scooby Doo style investigation Tom and Evelyn decide to follow the girl further inland, passing deserted cars, discarded teeth and many a battered skull along the way.
All belonging to adults.
Well obviously the cars belong to adults (they aren't toy ones) but I'm trying to build tension so stick with me.
It's not long before our dynamic duo have uncovered the terrifying - if fairly obvious - truth behind the killings....the children have become possessed by mentalism, murdering all the adults on the island to death!

Front bum, back bum, shitey mooth....three for a full hoose!


After school activities on Almanzora now include using dead peoples as piñatas, not brushing your teeth, skewering tourists and staying up all night to play Call of Duty on the PS3 whilst listening to Pixie Lott or something.
Yes, it's every adults nightmare.
Pixie Lott: Tunnel or funnel?
Tom and Evelyn, obviously au fait with the killer kiddies genre, decide it'd probably be for the best if they attempted to escape from these wannabe ASBO's by making their way to the up-market bit of town which - luckily - is populated by posh ex-pats (with even posher kids obviously), none of this council scum they keep finding around the streets where they are now.

See? 

Even more of that socio-political stuff, the director's a genius.
Just when everything seems like it's going to be OK (isn't that the way?) Tom makes a disturbing discovery, it appears that it only takes a sly look from those perishing pre-teens in the general direction of another child to pass of the madly murderous mentalism.
Tom and Evelyn are left with no choice but to fight back, the fate of their unborn child in their hands.
Well in Evelyn's tummy but you know what I'm getting at.

Pedants.

Begging for a mooth shite-in.



Unfortunately Tom's idea of fighting back is to lock himself and his wife in someones spare room and hope they can stay quiet enough to not attract any attention till the police turn up.
Which as far as escape plans go is up their with "Let's split up and search the woods for a way out alone!"
Hal Delrich would be proud.
Settling down for a well deserved rest (and maybe, just maybe a quick fondle of Evelyn's glorious globes) Tom's top seduction technique ("Oooh Evelyn I've got a pure steamer on!" probably) is interrupted when a blond small boy brandishing his large weapon bursts in on them.
Tom jumps into action, bitch-slapping the little shite before reluctantly shooting him in the arse, giving us a chance to not only see Fiander's Oscar calibre grief acting but to answer the question poised by the film's title.
This is getting all meta-textual init?
But this tearful wank and Pot Noodle moment brings only a brief period of calm for our cooped up couple as, without warning Evelyn starts leaking piss, shit and shame as her by now infected foetus murders her from within the womb. 
Which I'll admit I didn't see coming.
As the sun rises on a new day, a weary Tom is left completely alone. 
Apart from a handy assault rifle that is.

And an obvious dislike of children.

Shallow: Hal.

Violently grabbing the rifle, Tom decides (albeit a bit late in the day) to prove his worth as a  real man by running down to the harbour whilst firing indiscriminately into the crowds of kids and steal a boat back to the mainland.
Cue primal screams and comedy kid dancing as the bullets rip thru' row upon row of mad mini-people as Tom gingerly runs down the street before finally managing to cut the boat loose and head toward the open sea.
Wading into the water in an attempt to stop him leaving the children try desperately to overturn the boat as Tom valiantly tries to maim as many of them as he can.
Unfortunately (for him) Tom's world recording breaking infanticide attempt is cut short by the arrival of a Spanish police patrol boat, and the greasy crew mistakenly thinking that Tom has gone mad, shoot the poor sod dead.
Docking at the harbour, the officers begin tending to the wounded and asking the poor ickle children where their parents are.
One of the kids points toward town whilst the officer in charge asks no-one in particular the age old question "Who Can Kill a Child?" .
Which is a wee bit silly seeing as the answer is the guy he just shot obviously.
As the three officers begin the short walk to the shops (it's thirsty work killing tourists) one of them notices a small group of children sharing out the guns on the boat, turning to stop them the trio are confronted by a small moonfaced girl who waves them  Goodbye just before one of the boys shoots the three dead.

As the sun begins to set the children split into small groups, all the easier to infiltrate the mainland...



Murphy's Mob: the ASBO years.

The bastard offspring of Village of The Damned and daddy to every kiddie based horror flick since (and no doubt where Stephen King ripped Children of The Corn off from),
from it's opening montage of true life atrocities committed against children to it's downbeat ending Who Can Kill a Child? is as disturbing a movie today as it was at the time of release.

Thinking about it in these child safety obsessed modern times tho' it probably comes across as even more so.

Which makes the fact that a remake not only got green-lit but actually made even more disturbing.

But it's not just  the subject matter - or the haircuts - that makes this film an unforgettable and fairly harrowing experience.


No it's more to do with the leisurely pace at which Narciso Ibanez Serrador unfolds his story, unafraid as he is to build the tension slowly as he works quietly toward the movie's climax with an ever growing sense of dread. 

Filmed completely in broad daylight, Pedro Almodóvar's cinematographer of choice, Jose Luis Alcaine adds a sense of growing isolation whilst avant-garde composer Waldo de los Ríos' soundtrack of suitably soothing lullaby style songs gives a spooky Twilight Zone vibe to the proceedings.

But that's not all it has in it's favour, the small (in number as well as height) cast are unusually good for Spanish genre flicks of the time (casting English speaking ex-Doctor Who actors probably helped) and the Kiddie cast admirably pull of the task of going from sweet to shit scary in the bat of an eyelid.


A wee bit like my own podlings then.

Finally getting the love and care it deserves after years of being butchered, redubbed, retitled and generally pissed about,  Serrador's masterpiece can now proudly take it's place as the missing link between the horrific excesses of Jorge Grau's Manchester Morgue and Paul Naschy's Werewolf series.


Well we all know how much I like my little boxes, plus it makes it easier to put on your shelves this way.


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