THE CHILD (1977) Reviews and overview

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‘Let’s play hide and go kill…!’

The Child – aka Zombie Child – is a 1977 American horror feature film directed by Robert Voskanian from a screenplay written by Ralph Lucas (Zipperface; Planet of Dinosaurs). The Panorama Films production stars Laurel Barnett, Rosalie Cole, Frank Janson and Richard Hanners.

Rob Wallace (Memorial Day) composed a particularly dramatic piano score which was juxtaposed with Michael Quatro’s synth sounds.

The movie is released on June 24, 2019, by Arrow Video as part of their American Horror Project Volume 2 box set of three movies. The Child disc will feature:

  • 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 presentations of the feature
  • Filmed appreciation by MOVIES and MANIA contributor Stephen Thrower
  • Brand new audio commentary with director Robert Voskanian and producer Robert Dadashian, moderated by Stephen Thrower
  • Brand new on-camera interviews with Robert Voskanian and Robert Dadashian
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Original Press Book


In a remote rural community, newly-hired housekeeper Alicianne Del Mar is alarmed to discover that her boss’s eleven year-old daughter is using her supernatural powers to take revenge on the people she holds responsible for her mother’s death, with the aid of her flesh-eating zombie ‘friends’…


“The film does have some nice atmospheric, foggy moments here and there, and a couple of the dialogue-free sequences […] are effective. There’s enough gore to please (faces ripped off, an eyeball gouging, a head getting chopped with an axe, etc.), the zombie designs by Jay Owens (mostly saved for the Night of the Living Dead-inspired finale) are pretty good…” The Bloody Pit of Horror

“While the artificial style is interesting at first, its lack of subtlety makes it increasingly unwelcome. At least half the movie depicts two people sitting or wandering alone in the dark with weird sounds in the background and the aforementioned music blaring around them. Two or three times is effective, but half the movie? […] Still, some of the foggy forests and re-yellow glowing colors are enjoyably creepy.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers, Lulu, 2012

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“Naturally, budget dictates that we only see zombie hands and arms until the finale. And when we do finally see the creatures in full, yeah, they’re a bit goofy, but they get the job done. Most impressive, though, is the blood and gore makeup. There are some pretty cool spots where people have their faces halfway ripped off…” Dread Central

“Bits involving a scarecrow and early glimpses of the creatures – as well as a bit involving a jack o’lantern that should be laughable but is actually creepy – make up for a child actor who is more annoying than sinister, and the siege climax has a few effective jumps in addition to a heaping of splattery gore.” DVD Drive-In

“There isn’t a minute of this that isn’t weird in some way, from camera angles to dialogue delivery, gory makeup effects to the weird music score that swings between lush piano and blippy bloppy electronic noises. The Child is a remarkable, weird, disorientating unique piece of cinema…” House of Mortal Cinema

“A terrific choice for Halloween viewing thanks to its unnerving use of pumpkins and scarecrows, The Child definitely falls under the “evil kid” horror category but also delivers plenty more you might not expect, including a rousing and surprisingly creepy zombie showdown at the end.” Mondo Digital

“Voskanian generates some undeniably sinister effect from things like lit-up Halloween lanterns turning to follow people around a room or silhouetted scarecrows. And there is certainly some great colour photography. However, the rest of the film is overwrought. The score goes into overdrive attempting to hype atmosphere…” Moria

“It has a beguiling deranged amateur feel, unleashing a cache of scary cadavers in the last twenty minutes and packing the rest of the running time with strange music, wild camera angles and warped acting. It has that unpredictable quality you find in the best seventies exploitation, where weird digressions and non sequiturs lurk at every turn.” Stephen Thrower, Nightmare USA, FAB Press, 2008

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“There is a feeling of uneasy suspense and foreboding created, in both the sets and direction […] In addition, the final showdown between little Rosalie’s living dead “friends” and our heroine/hero is also exciting and terrifying. Thankfully, there is blood and gore aplenty…” Pop Matters

” …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.” Joseph Howell, Talk of Horrors

“Good for its kind, The Child is atmospheric, boasts some earnest gore makeup, and comes at the tail end of the real grindhouse drive-in boon of the early to mid ’70s.” The Terror Trap

“This low-budget effort has its champions, mainly because of some nice subjective camerawork, but it simply takes too long to kick into gear. TV Guide

” …the movie has its moments. But they are few and far between, which wouldn’t be so exasperating if it weren’t for the maddening score by Rob Wallace. Wild piano, with dreadful synth accompaniment (what’s with the electronic duck-quack sound?) absolutely destroys any amount of suspense they were obviously going for.” Zombie a Go-Go

“The film manages to generate some interest with a decent makeup effect of a victim’s half-torn face, but it’s too little too late. The blaringly loud music seems to be thrown in at random, and there’s a general incoherence to the story. Poorly lit […], badly edited, and ineptly produced, this film was made to be forgotten.”  Glenn Kay, Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide, Chicago Review Press, 2008

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Cast and characters;

  • Laurel Barnett … Alicianne Del Mar
  • Rosalie Cole … Rosalie Nordon
  • Frank Janson … Nordon
  • Richard Hanners … Len Nordon
  • Ruth Ballan … Mrs. Elizabeth Whitfield (as Ruth Ballen)
  • Jong Slosson Bing Jong … Gardener
  • Rod Medigovich … Priest / Creature
  • Wendell Hudiburg … Pall Bearer
  • Chris Tieken … Jefferson
  • Ralph Lucas … Creature
  • Jim Dickson … Creature
  • Chick Cavanaugh … Creature
  • Anoosh Avan … Creature

Technical credits:

  • 85 minutes
  • Aspect ratio: 1:85:1
  • Eastmancolor
  • Audio: mono


Filming began October 1, 1973, on location in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, with working titles Children of the Night and Child of the Living Dead. Additional scenes were shot from 5 October 1976 when the movie was picked up for distribution by Harry H. Novak. It was released in March 1977.

Some image credits: The Telltale Mind

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