2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 1: Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)

DAY 1: START SMALL: It may seem cute at first, but these little ones are always a challenge. Watch one with an evil offspring in it.

You know, I thought I was made of some harder stuff, but the credits to this movie absolutely decimated me, setting up a mood of pure dread I haven’t seen in many movies, juxtaposing real photos of dead bodies in mass graves with children at play.

Based on the Juan José Plans novel El juego de los niños (The Children’s Game) and adapted by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador under his pseudonym Luis Peñafiel, this escapes what feels like the way a mondo can punch you in the face and make you feel badly for being entertained and drops us — and Tom and Evelyn (Lewis Fiander and Prunella Ransome) — on an island where they had hoped for a vacation yet have found no other adults. Only children. Grim, unsmiling children.

How dark is this movie? So dark that Evelyn is murdered by her unborn child from the inside out and then Tom is forced to gun down a whole bunch of little tikes before the military kills him, thinking that he’s the Duane Jones of this movie. They pay for this mistake in seconds and then the kids are heading off to Spain, sneaking in one or two at a time and getting ready to teach the young folks that they’ll meet a whole new way to play with mom and dad.

Serrador also made The House That Screamed and the TV series Historias para no dormir (Tales to Keep You Awake) that has recently been released by Severin.

This movie has many names — Island of DeathIsland of the DamnedDeath is Child’s PlayTrapped!The Hex Massacre and The Hex — and while it didn’t come out in the U.S. until 1978 and Children of the Corn was published in 1977, it had to have some collective consciousness influence.

I’m also fascinated by the remake of this movie, Come Out and Play, which was supposedly directed by a masked Russian named Makinov who I am completely convinced was a certain director who keeps remaking 70s movies.

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