Harry Novak may not be known to most, but for hardcore exploitation fans, his name is synonymous with sexploitation. Movies like "Massage Parlor Wife", "Sexcapade in Mexico" and "Fandango" were all produced by the man, and gave audiences all the sex and sin such movies would allow at the time. In fact, he produced all kinds of exploitation genres and sub-genres, such as Blaxploitation ("The Black Connection") and of course, horror ("Axe", "Toys Are Not For Children", "Please Don't Eat My Mother" and "Rituals" to name a few.) Another horror title he produced is the 1977 film "The Child."
Alicianne (Laurel Barnett) has a new job-she has to help look after young Rosalie Nordon (Rosalie Cole.) Rosalie is going through some problems, seeing that her mother is dad, and she's mad at a lot of people. Oh, and she can talk to her mother from beyond the grave, move inanimate objects with her mind, and raise the dead to do her bidding. This being a horror movie, this can mean only one thing-she's not using said powers for good.
A mishmash of psychic goofiness, evil child and zombie films, "The Child" is an odd little movie to say the least. The world within the film lives by a fractured logic that has it's own rules. Not a whole lot makes any sense, but you just kind of go with it. None of the actors can act worth a damn (well, Barnett does a good job of acting scared), especially Cole, who is more bratty and obnoxious than she is scary or evil. Then there's the synthesizer score by Michael Quatro, which ranges from weird Moog squelches to over dramatic piano swirls.
That out of the way, it's not a bad movie. For one thing, it's an atmospheric little venture, with heavy use of fog machine and underlying menace throughout much of it. The zombie make-up is also top notch, especially considering the under $100,000 budget. Oh, and while not a splatter flick, there's some nice gore, with mutilated bodies and choice zombie kills making for a fun time. The highlight though, is the final 20 minutes, which becomes a zombie siege that brings pleasant memories of scenes from movies such as "Night of the Living Dead" and "The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue." It's not as good as those movies, but it's not bad either.
Can I recommend "The Child" to anyone? Well, if you're a fan of Harry Novak productions, then you've seen it. That out of the way, fans of off the beaten path, low budget regional horror will find this a fun experience. Just don't expect anything great.