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(aka "¿Quien puede matar a un nino?" or "Island of the Damned" or "Death is Child's Play" or "Trapped!" )

 

directed by Narciso Ibanez Serrador
Spain 1976

 

Biologist Tom (Lewis Fiander, DR. JEKYLL & SISTER HYDE) and his pregnant wife Evelyn (Prunella Ransome, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD) arrive in Spain for a planned holiday on the remote island of Almanzora. Unbeknownst to them, a few bodies have washed up on the mainland and the causes of death are unnatural. The couple rent a boat and sail to the mainland, only to discover the village deserted except for the children. Assuming that the adults must be on the other side of the island for some religious ceremony, they make themselves at home in the local inn. It is only when Tom sees a little girl (Marian Salgado) thrashing a helpless old man with his own cane, that he and Evelyn realize that there is something more sinister afoot. Released in the US by American International as ISLAND OF THE DAMNED - minus the disturbing footage under the titles - and then as TRAPPED! (the latter with poster art that echoed VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED), and as DEATH IS CHILD'S PLAY, ISLAND OF DEATH (not to be confused with the Niko Mastorakis film reviewed HERE), and WOULD YOU KILL A CHILD? in the UK, WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? is the second horror film of Spanish director Narcisco Ibanez Serrador (who had previously helmed the AIP pickup THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED/LA RESIDENCIA). Whereas his first film was a period gothic chiller (laced with late sixties gore and - in its export version - nudity), WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? takes its cues from unnatural siege films like THE BIRDS and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, with children as the attackers. Serrador eschews the science fiction explanation of Juan José Plans' source novel "El Juego de los Ninos (The Children's Game)" and leaves his besieged protagonists to ponder various physical, metaphysical, psychological, and philosophical possibilities for the sudden revolt of the children (the French theatrical title was REVOLT OF THE YEAR 2000). Stephen King must have seen the film in its US cut (minus the footage underlining the theme of children as victims of wartime atrocities), and one can't help but wonder if the source story and film of CHILDREN OF THE CORN might have played better had he not offered affirmation of a supernatural cause. The opening credits stock footage of war atrocities with statistics for the total people killed (and separate ones for the children) and a camera shop clerk underlines that it is always the children who suffer the most. The titular question is asked rhetorically in the film's dialogue, and the film builds towards the cinematic transgression powerfully. Waldo de los Rios (who also scored LA RESIDENCIA) contributes a spare score dominated by a child humming a lullaby-like tune. Child actress Marian Salgado previously played the possessed tyke of Amando de Ossorio's EXORCIST cash-in THE POSSESSED/DEMON WITCH CHILD, and Spanish horror favorite Luis Ciges (HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB) shows up briefly as the island's postman.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: June 1978 (USA)

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DVD Comparison:

Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the Screen Caps!

(Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Eureka Video

Region 2 - PAL

Dark Sky Films
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:46:12 (4% PAL speedup) 1:51:48
Video

1.81:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.46 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.83:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.16 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Eureka Video

 

Bitrate:

 

Dark Sky Films

 

Audio English/Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

English/Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

Subtitles English (for Spanish dialogue), English SDH, none English (for Spanish dialogue), English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.81:1

Edition Details:
• Child Director: interview with director Narciso Ibanez Serrador (16:9; 9:10)
• Who Can Shoot a Child: interview with cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine (16:9; 16:02)

DVD Release Date: May 23rd. 2011
Amaray

Chapters 15
 

Release Information:
Studio: Dark Sky Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.83:1

Edition Details:
• Who Can Shoot a Child: interview with cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine (16:9; 16:03)
• Child Director: interview with director Narciso Ibanez Serrador (9:12)
• Still Gallery

 

DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2007
Amaray

Chapters 14

 

Comments

The 2007 Dark Sky and 2011 Eureka Video releases appear to come from different masters. The Eureka transfer is slightly zoomed in on all four sides and exhibits less damage in a panning shot late in the film. While I can't be sure how much of the yellowish sun-scorched haze in the Dark Sky transfer is intentional, detail in the Eureka edition is overall superior. The Eureka release drops the Spanish dub, but you're really not missing out as the English track features a lot of Spanish dialogue (with English subtitles). Serrador was reportedly dissatisfied with the Spanish DUB because it translated everything into Spanish which undercut scenes where (notably the scenes with the German tourist begging for help over the telephone and Tom unable to understand). The Eureka disc also features white subtitles while the Dark Sky disc features smaller yellow ones (white would have been better given the yellowish haze on the Dark Sky). The Eureka disc loses the Dark Sky 'Stills gallery', but retains the two Dark Sky-produced interviews with director Serrador and cinematographer Alcane.

There also exist German and French DVD editions. Both editions port over the two Dark Sky interviews and the German disc also features the English track (in addition to the Spanish and German dubs), as well as a bonus CD soundtrack. The French disc includes the French and Spanish dubs and adds a half-hour featurette on Serrador with input from Guillermo del Toro, Juan Antonio Bayona (THE ORPHANAGE), Jaume Balageuro (FRAGILE), and Paco Plaza (REC) as well as a half-hour French language documentary on Spanish genre cinema. A non-anamorphic Spanish DVD was released (and was the source for an early gray market composite), but is now out of print.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
(
Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 
 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample

 

 


(Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Eureka Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. Dark Sky Films - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Eureka Video

Sound:

Draw (director dissatisfied with Spanish dub)

Extras: Draw
Menu: Dark Sky
 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Eureka Video

Region 2 - PAL

Dark Sky Films
Region 1 - NTSC



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