Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Child Eater

of 5 viewers "Liked" "Child Eater" (2017, USA)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

The Berkeley Blazer - "While I missed some parts of the very beginning of Child Eater I liked what I saw of the rest of it enough to confidently give it a score of four stars. Starting out with low expectations upon entry, the trajectory of Child Eater really surprised and won me over. Our protagonist was quite likable for the most part; she had a realness, and down to earth quality that made her journey into the nightmare world of Child Eater that much more resonant. Child Eater himself was truly creepy and​ terrifying in a way that was fresh, but also kind of nostalgic like he could have been one of the hall of fame monsters from the nineties. Besides the stellar protagonist and antagonist, this movie does surprising things​ with the way it reveals it's surprising both on a moment to moment level as well as on a narrative level. To put it bluntly, this movie kept surprising me with jump scares that are brilliant story decisions. The filmmaker put some real craftsmanship and love into this movie, but occasionally its micro budget funding showed which normally wouldn't be a issue for me, but the acting of certain characters and the police uniforms that didn't fit were a distraction because so much of the film was really exciting and left me with quite memorable imagery.  If you're looking for a dark little surprise of a film to keep your dreams haunted, Child Eater might be the treat you've been hunting for." - 4 Stars

Lord Battle - "I don't want to say too​ much about this film because Math Mage's review is already spoiler ridden, so I'll give my Berkeley Blazer "basic bitch review". Child Eater is a micro budget Jeepers Creepers removed from the highways of America and planted in the ruins of the East Coast. Combine that with an interesting mythology, rad special effects, and locations that are permeated in history and you end up with the type of film that would be a perfect random watch on a streaming library. Erlingur Thoroddsen's Child Eater is an unmasked slasher film that will both make you laugh and say "oh shit". A must for indie horror fans." - 4 Stars

Trash - "Child Eater has a great opening, great music, is well shot and produced, and has a pretty good looking monster. In fact, the quality of this film belies what it actually is: a no-budget, very straight-forward monster flick. Certain moments stand out as excellent, and the kid gets some fantastically weird dialogue which is delivered so straight that I found myself laughing more to relieve the shock than because it was funny. A solid horror flick." - 3 Stars

Math Mage - "Not a good name, no children were eaten. Only adults eyes are eaten by Nosferatu (who is an anti-stork that takes children instead of bringing them?), according to the ahab who escapes as a child with one eye." - 3.5 Stars

Huntress - "All it took was a name like Child Eater and an awesome looking poster to grab my attention and I'm happy to say that even with high hopes, stemming from all the movie stills I've been seeing, I walked away from Child Eater feeling fulfilled on multiple levels. I loved the urban legend aspect, all the sets both indoor looked great, and the film makers didn't seem too concerned with censoring themselves to be more mainstream. I wanted to preorder my copy as soon as the movie was over." - 4.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

After rereading the reviews I realized that I referred to Child Eater as an "Unmasked Slasher". This is of course some terminology that helps me categorize the many films I see and own into their own respective little sub-genres. The idea behind differentiating unmasked verse mask slashers (besides the obvious) comes from the way their stories are told and the type of fear they are trying to inspire in the audience. Masked slashers​ like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees are essentially strangers. Their mythology is mainly built from a number of sequels and a simple idea. A criminally insane man escapes a mental institution on Halloween and a boy left for dead has grown up in and now haunts the woods, killing those who trespass. Even a modern masked slasher like Fender Bender features a type of urban legend who although has more personality still lacks even a name, as Bill Sage is credited as "The Driver".
Unmasked slasher need a mythology unique to the character. Freddy has a deep backstory involving his birth, life, and death all in the first film! And it's no different for even the campiest of unmasked slashers. Take the Leprechaun for example. Before Warwick Davis helmed what may be the best horror-comedy franchise to date, Trimark released an 8-page prequel comic that had some continuity issues but contained things like the Leprechaun's true name. Talk about a horror trivia question.

At the end of Child Eater we learn that our slasher has been referred to previously as "The Black Stork" which seemed a little out of place and over the top to a couple of the creatures present at our screening. Naturally I had to see if this was referenced to an urban legend or something and found something a little more interesting.

A film was released in 1917 under the title The Black Stork. The film is about Dr. Dickey who is called into work to save a "defective" child's life. Dr. Dickey refuses to do anything as is illustrated by his refusal to take his apron from his nurse. Other doctors step in and save the child who grows up to be a shunned monster. The child later returns to kill Dr. Dicky who "condemned him to life". The interesting thing about this film is that Dr. Dickey is both played by and based on Harry J. Haiselden who is best known for his part in the Bollinger Case.


Bollinger case

On November 17, 1915 Harry J. Haiselden, despite public protest, allowed the syphilitic child John Bollinger to die. Haiselden convinced the child's parents that John would have grown up to be a miserable outcast and that death was this child's best option as well as in the best interests of society.

As the child was dying, an unknown kidnapper attempted to save John and the Catholic community protested the action; however activist Helen Keller and attorney Clarence Darrow each wrote separate articles in support of Dr. Haiselden's choice. Dr. Haiselden was an outspoken supporter of the eugenics movement prior to the case and, after the publicity made him famous, he took eugenics onto the national stage.

Haiselden was ultimately acquitted by a jury for allowing John Bollinger to die. The Illinois Board of Health attempted to revoke Haiselden's medical license but that action was dropped. A coroner's jury determined that the child was not syphilitic, but brain damaged and therefore defective. The Chicago Medical Society expelled Haiselden from their membership for The Black Stork and the publicity that he sought out after the infanticide.
- Wikipedia

What does all this mean? Nothing really but all this Black Stork lore would make for an awesome backstory. If you are more interested in Harry J. Haiselden's film you'll be sad to know that the originals of the film are all but gone as less than four partials are known to exist today. But The Black Stork is up in it's entirety on YouTube!
(Here is a small summary of what happened, told with footage from The Black Stork)

-Lord Battle

The Overlook Theatre materialized in a residence for a screening on  3/28/2017
*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not affect the rating.

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