Director: Narciso Ibanez Serrador (1976)
Starring: Lewis Fiander, Prunella Ransome, Antonio Iranzo
Find it: IMDB
The mother of all 'horrible children' films. Village of the Damned and The Omen are more widely recognised, but the children in those movies are far too polite for my liking. Who Can Kill a Child? captures the inherent creepiness of children like few other genre films. Its brats are recognisably foul and horrible, whereas I would gladly put up with an apocalypse in exchange for some Village of the Damned or Damien children. You wouldn't find Damien rioting in Footlocker or the Village of the Damned raiding their local Tesco. Who Can Kill a Child? is an accurate depiction of a society overrun with bloodthirsty children.
Tom (Fiander) and pregnant wife Evelyn (Ransome) travel to the remote Spanish island of Almanzora, where they find the streets deserted and the buildings empty. The only life they encounter belongs to the island's rude and giggly children. Obviously Tom and Evelyn never saw that episode of Star Trek with the planet of children, since alarm bells don't start ringing until they're in terrible danger.
The hot, deserted streets of Almanzora make a great setting for this atmospheric, gripping bit of paedophobic horror. Despite it being mildly creepy in places, the hysterical overacting tends to make it a difficult piece to take seriously. Prunella Ransome's screaming and shrieking during the later scenes is a little hard to take, whilst Lewis Fiander's Tom is a remarkable tit. Sure, it's the 1970s, but his condescending attitude towards his wife will have you rooting for the children. Neglecting to tell her about the terrible danger she's in, he wanders off several times, leaving her with only a local crying dad for company. And while we're at it, I hardly think it's responsible to be dragging a woman with freckles like that to a place like Almanzora.
Despite the worrying title, Who Can Kill a Child? is a lot of fun. It's like a cross between The Birds and Night of the Living Dead. It predicts Twilight by over thirty years in one utterly fantastic scene, and the ending is gloriously demented. Sure it's called Who Can Kill a Child, but I never expected to see the film break out a machine gun. By the time Tom began literally beating the children off with a stick, I was in love with Who Can Kill a Child? It's the perfect school holiday antidote.