Thursday, January 6, 2011

Si, Se Puede

Ever since I was a wee sprat I thought movies about evil little kids looked really scary. I remember seeing photos from The Brood, probably in Fangoria, and getting the cold chills...maybe some clips from the original Village of the Damned...and of course Damien's wry little smile was creepy.

Strangely enough, however, I haven't managed to actually get creeped out watching any of those movies.  At least not by the kids themselves.  Don't get me wrong - The Brood is a great movie, and of course the Omen ain't half bad - but Village of the Damned?  Ehh.  The Good Son?  Good lord, no. Devil Times Five? Boring. Children of the Corn?  Maybe the first 5 minutes, and then only because I saw it in the theater when I was 13 and far more easily frightened than I am now...and while Malachi was certainly one ugly ginger dude it failed to maintain any sense of menace as the film progressed.  2 recent films I found to be mildly creepy that involved wacko kiddos were The Children (2008) and Home Movie. and Orphan was pretty cool, too...but I've still been taking advice from other horror fans and looking for the gnarliest and scariest killer kid flick. The most common and sincere recommendation?  1976's Quien Puede Matar a un Nino aka Who Can Kill a Child aka Island of the Damned aka The Killers Playground (whew).

One of the weirdest things about this movie is that it starts with several minutes of real footage of atrocities happening to children and larger humans - stuff like starving kids covered in flies, or burning with napalm, or trying to eat with no hands, or being thrown onto a giant pile of rotting corpses.  Now, when Sly Stallone did that at the beginning of the latest and greatest Rambo movie, he was showing how incredibly fucked up Myanmar really is, so that when it got ridiculously violent later on it would almost appear reasonable.  In this movie?  Not sure that I understand what it's doing there.  Kind of like an aperitif of Traces of Death before things jumped off, and pretty disgusting.  But anyway, the plot: Married couple with kids (who, I guess, are at home with a sitter or family or something) goes on vacation to coastal Spain.  They spend an evening in a town that features fireworks and parades with seriously fucking disturbing giant puppets dancing around:
dude, whatever...those aren't that bad


 Now most people might be perfectly happy to get a room in someone's house in a crowded-ass party town in Spain and take a vacation.  But nooo. The husband, in typical dude fashion, has to go to some little quasi-deserted island to really kick back and relax.  Never mind that it can only be reached by boat and that it takes like 4 hours to get there.  Never mind that his wife is noticeably pregnant and that there surely isn't any sort of readily available medical care on Super Rad Secret-ish Island.  Dude's just got to get there and show his lady what awesome is all about.  So they get a boat and go there.  Clearly the ozone layer was in better shape back then because they manage not to get sunburned even after sitting in a boat with no hats on for hours on end.  Anyway.  Once they get to the island, there are some weird kids who won't talk to them when they tie up their boat at the dock.  The couple shrug this off and head into the town, which is pretty much deserted.  The wife sits down in a cafe and interacts with a weird girl who touches the wife's belly and laughs to herself, while the husband roams around houses looking for people.

Even after the only people they come across prove to either be creepy-ass kids or dead adults, they don't leave the island.  The couple run across some dude whose daughter comes up to him and leads him off by the take him to a bunch of kids and kill him.  We also see a group of little kids hitting a local geezer like a pinata:
 but what we don't see is any way they could have hoisted his weighty old ass up like that.  This movie just shorted out my suspension of disbelief meter or something.  I mean, I was ready to believe that there could be an island full of evil little shits who would just as soon kill you as look at you...I just wasn't ready to believe that they could lift up some dude who probably weighs as much as the lot of them put together. I also understood the plight of the guy who walks away with his daughter to an ignoble was his own kid and so he wasn't seeing her as an evil child, but as his lovable daughter...but if that's the case, tie her up and schlep her off that damn island to a hospital on the mainland or something.  Jeez.

So anyway, the couple go from place to place on the island trying to get away, after what I respectfully submit is too fucking long jerking around doing stuff other than trying to get away.  Turns out that the baby inside the woman's womb has been infected by whatever got the rest of the island's kids all screwed up, and it kills her from the inside.  The husband tries to get away and ultimately fails.  What's most notable about this film, particularly for the time in which it was made, is that kids are indeed killed as the action unfolds...but I couldn't really see why they wouldn't have been.   Other than the poor bastard who had to deal with his own kid, anyway (the same dynamic used to good effect in 2008's The Children), I saw no reason why the protagonists should be so loath to kill these little shits.  They don't act like human beings.  They're trying, actively, to kill you or at least to stop you from getting away from them so they can gang up and kill you.  They suck.  I would kill as many of them as it would take to get myself back home to my own kids.  Naturally, I would probably make a mess of it and end up in the same spot as the stars of this film, but quandary?  Hell no.

I guess it's really the concept of killer kids in movies that I find unsettling rather than the execution of the idea.  If there's no emotional attachment to the little darlings, then it's hard to see why it supposed to be so taboo to get rid of them if your life depends on it.

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