Halloween Horrors 16 – The Child

Mid 70s obscure drive-in flicks about little girls and zombies? A must have for every Halloween Season-and this weird Harry Novak released movie satisfies on many levels. Less polished than it’s year would suggest, the over dubbed voices will make you feel like you are back in the late 60s, minus the close ups of feet ala Doris Wishman, it manages to be a lot of fun because what it lacks in skillful film making it makes up for with groovy zombies and a sense of weird dread that works with an ease that feels more primal than thoughtful. The Child works as a horror film almost despite itself-turning flaws in to wonderful eccentricities.

Little Rosalie looks so innocent, but she has a strange tendency to go hang out with ZOMBIES in the middle of the night since she happens to live next to a graveyard. She feeds them kitty cats and giggles happily with “her friends.” When her mother dies under unknown circumstances (oh oh) her father hires a hot nanny named Alicianne to keep an eye on his little nocturnal wanderer. It doesn’t take Alicianne to long to realize that this girl isn’t just plain old strange, she is totally bizarre and talks to zombies.

The running time of the film is taken up by a few zombie attacks on people that annoy Rosalie, and these are really well done and are enhanced by outstanding zombie make ups and a vintage synthesizer score by Michael Quatro. Without the music this film may very well have been sunk into the graveyard of overwrought voice acting that runs rampant all over the soundtrack-but the weird ambient noises and beeps put the viewer off guard, it is hard to tell when things are just oddly off kilter or on the verge of an all out zombie attack.

The nanny/child relationship grows a bit, but for some reason Rosalie decides to just unleash her pals all over Alicianne and her new found boyfriend and the movie has a great final reel of zombie attacks and a downbeat ending you’ll have to see and try to figure out-it took me a few looks!

The Child isn’t exceptional, but as “drive-in” or “grindhouse” films go, this is an obscurity that delivers more thrills than I could have expected. The raw and regional feeling of the production adds to the overall strange tone of the film. Do we feel bad for the little girl who lost her mother and now finds herself more in touch with the world of the dead than the long life she will live without her mother? Do we want to see the nanny escape? I honestly never really knew what to feel or who to root for-and that is a good thing…which leads me to the strongest part of the film.

The easiest way to sum up my positive feelings for The Child it is that I appreciated how the zombies were used. NEVER in this movie do you wonder if Rosalie is an unreliable narrator because of her age. There is no mystery here…the zombies exist. They are vengeful and love the little girl. They will mutilate you if she wants it done. Don’t cross THE CHILD! I won’t!


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