Eleven-year-old Rosalie (Rosalie Cole) has a special talent: she can make the dead rise from their graves and kill people. Since her mother was murdered, she’s been waiting to take revenge on those responsible, whether or not they are actually responsible. In preparation, Rosalie just makes her late night trips to the graveyard, feeds kittens to the zombies, and acts like a spoiled bitch. To be fair, her father (Frank Janson) is about 70 million years old, and from what I understand sometimes people who have young children later in life are tired and they just want to say fuck it, man. So when newly hired nanny/housekeeper Alicianne (Laurel Barnett) comes on the scene, she has her work cut out for her. Fortunately, Rosalie’s older brother Len (Richard Hanners) knows all about Rosalie and her rotting henchmen, but can he stop her in time to save anyone? Pro tip: zombies hate car horns.
I wasn’t expecting much out of The Child, as the trailer I saw showcased the worst of the line deliveries by Rosalie; however, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie for the right reasons. Okay, I enjoyed the day-for-night shots for the wrong reason, but they always amuse me. As long as you don’t go looking for logic in the supernatural parts, you will enjoy this too. While the voice acting is awful, the emotional responses, at least the fearful ones, seem believable, and the inevitable zombie siege is handled with as much self-preservation instinct as I’ve seen out of characters in a movie like this. This movie really works on the level that it’s supposed to.
In fact, The Child pretty much exemplifies how to effectively make a cheap zombie/evil kid movie. I’ve been to weddings that cost much more than this movie, and I don’t run in the best circles. There are about ten people in the film, and they seem to have thrift store costumes. The locations consist of two houses, some woods, a cemetery, and an oil field. The budget went to a couple of convincing “half my face is gone” kill scenes, the “could-be-worse” zombie makeup, a fog machine, and a really fantastic score that mixes classical-sounding piano with weird groovy psychedelic synth.
There isn’t a lot of plot or dialogue, and director Robert Voskanian wisely opted to spend most of the time on musically accompanied “someone is being stalked” or “someone is freaked out” sequences. Weirdest of all for a movie from the 70s, there is very little WTF padding. The only thing that stands out is some very inappropriate dinner conversation where Janson’s character tells a story that has no bearing on the plot other than to show you that he’s kind of an asshole, and then he and Rosalie laugh like hell. But even that helps set the mood, and this movie is all about the mood. Other than that, and the fact that I couldn’t tell it was actually supposed to be set in the 30s (read that on IMDb after watching), this is a fun little B picture. So if you want to learn to make a decent movie on the cheap, order this from your friends at Something Weird, finders of obscurities like this one.
Oh, and this one goes on the list of films directed, or in this case, produced (Harry Novak), by erstwhile pornographers, along with The Being, The Nesting, and the horror films of Roberta Findlay, Doris Wishman, and my good buddy (hey, he would have liked me if he’d met me) Joe D’Amato. I’m kind of half-assed keeping a list, since it seems to pop up often. I guess people figure horror should be a cakewalk after making all that porn.