WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (1976) – The Dungeon Review!

While searching for Spanish horror the one film that seemed to consistently pop up was Who Can Kill A Child? The title instantly intrigued me as I do love a good killer kid flick. Even more fun than a killer kid is a whole swarm of killer kids! How about a whole damn island of killer kids?!

Tom and Evelyn are a happily married couple vacationing in Spain and are expecting their first child. In hopes of finding some peace and quiet in the midst of a local celebration, they decide to seek out a resort town Tom visited 10 years previous called Almanzora. Despite some unsettling news about dead bodies washing up on the shore the two decide to rent a boat and seek out what they hope will be a more serene destination. As they drift towards the Island they see a small group of children playing. Once on the island however, they are surprised to find all the businesses empty and not an adult in sight. They think nothing of it initially, but as they search the island for signs of life they discover more children. But the reality of the situation becomes sickeningly clear when they run into a group of rugrats playing piñata with an adult body.

Who doesn’t love bashing a piñata?! It is pretty clear something is afoot on the island well before we see the kids bashing papa piñata but this visual revelation sure does make an impact! The discovery is fairly early in the couple’s journey and of course things get uglier from here. The film has a great intensity and atmosphere which is extra impressive considering the films action takes place in broad daylight. The violence is bathed in sunshine and is complimented by a great score featuring children’s “la,la,la’s”. The film pulls no punches and doesn’t back down from its violence on account of the kiddies. Although the violence isn’t particularly graphic there are scenes that will shock and surprise and the ending is absolutely brilliant!

During the films opening credit sequence we are shown actual footage of the holocaust and various other wars driving home the point that it is children who suffer the most during these adult made atrocities. The clips end with a starving African baby and then segue into the story by showing a shot of a chubby little white kid playing on the beach. It’s an interesting social statement although it did feel a little heavy handed. This is really the closest thing you get to any kind of explanation as to why the children have become little killers. Is there something in the makeup of the children that makes them exact revenge on behalf of those that came before them? Is it something in the water or air? Did they watch a history channel marathon? You really just don’t know. There are more than a few great horror films that offer vague or little explanation to its onscreen action but are nonetheless effective. Who Can Kill A Child? definitely falls into this category. The lack of information actually adds an additional chilliness to the proceedings. If this could happen on this island couldn’t it happen anywhere? Could a loving parent ever consider killing their own child to defend themselves? Clearly the parents on this island could not bring themselves to hurt the little ones.

Lewis Fiander and Prunella Ransome are perfect in their role as British tourists Tom and Evelyn. The couple is quite likeable and the dialog and chemistry between the two felt easy and realistic. The film focuses on their discoveries and the actions they take in response. Making Evelyn six months pregnant added an interesting depth. Soon to be parents themselves will they be able to hurt a child to defend themselves? There is one particularly creepy scene where Evelyn’s pregnancy is used to great effect. Evelyn is waiting for Tom in an empty bar and a little girl approaches her and touches her pregnant belly doing nothing more than smile slyly. A simple scene that chilled my shit! By the time the final credits role you get the answer to the titular question of Who Can Kill A Child?

Who Can Kill A Child? is a well-filmed, fascinating, atmospheric and intense mystery that warns to heed the little voices or one day they might just combine resources and finish us all. A great lesser known horror film that is definitely worth seeking out. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4.5/5

Directed By: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador

Starring: Lewis Fiander, Prunella Ransome, Antonio Iranzo, Miguel Narros, María Luisa Arias, Marisa Porcel, Juan Cazalilla, Luis Ciges

6 Responses to “WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (1976) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. This makes me wonder if Stephen King ever saw this movie before penning Children of the Corn, which was published in 1978. Being a confirmed Stephen King hater on account of him not retiring so better authors can squeeze into the horror field, I can well believe that he hoisted the theme of his story directly from this movie.

    • Hi Candace-I haven’t read King in a long while, but of course he was a favourite growing up. This movie is actually based on a book apparently written and published the same year (1976). According to Wikipedia, King’s short story was written in 1977 for Penthouse. It is all together possible that King read this book (or seen the film) before composing his own story. By the way, I MIGHT have found the film you were talking about a while back with a vampire circus theme. In fact, it’s a Hammer film actually called Vampire Circus from 1972. It even qualifies for my 70′s theme! Now I just have to lay my hands on it, as Zip. ca (Canada Netflix) does not have it. Here’s the plot summary taken from IMDB…

      A village in Nineteenth Century Europe is at first relieved when a circus breaks through the quarantine to take the local’s minds off the plague. But their troubles are only beginning as children begin to disappear and the legacy of a long-ago massacre is brought to light.

  2. I quite liked this movie but found that intro with real-life footage of atrocities committed on children to be unnecessarily exploitative.

  3. Could be. King is one of the most successful plagiarists of our times…

    Vampire Circus definitely sounds like the same movie! If you get your hands on a copy, I’ll be very curious to see what you think of it. I was born in 74, so I would have seen this sometime in the early to mid- 80s. I think I was maybe 8 or 9. I liked it, but what did my little undeveloped mind know of good movies. lol

  4. This movie is great! As a parent, killer kid movies freak me out more than most horror subgenres. The scene you mention with the little girl touching Evelyn’s belly in the bar was creepy as hell! I definitely consider this one an underappreciated classic.

  5. [...] director’s other work. After watching director Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s excellent Who Can Kill a Child? I added his only other film credit La Residencia to my queue. The rest of Serrador’s work [...]

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