The Child Molester (film #104 on Open Source Movies. Also, film #5 on disc #2 of Hell’s Highway DVD (Kino Vidoe, 2003) (excerpt)). [Category: Educational]

This early 60s scare film about child molesters starts out pretty campy. It features a guy in the park handing out jelly beans to two little girls, and then inviting them into his car for more, then driving away with them. Now I was a kid back then, and even during those times we were all taught never to take candy from strangers, so you gotta wonder about these kids’ parents. An older woman sitting on a park bench eyes the man suspiciously as he drives away with the little girls, but just when you think she’s going to write down the car’s license number, she shakes her head, makes a “Naaaaahhhh!!” face, and walks away. I mean come on people!! After that, though, it gets pretty disturbing, as we see the girls being chased through a forest by the man and eventually being caught, while back at home the police are agonizingly slow in their investigations. The eventual point is that parents should teach kids about stranger danger, which is a reasonable point to make (though because of its time, it fails to even mention the fact that most child molesters are known to their victims, rather than strangers). However, the film goes too far to my mind when it shows actual gory footage of the bodies of two little girls who were murdered by a serial killer, a hallmark of the Highway Safety Foundation, the makers of this film. It’s one thing to show gory accident victims to cocky teens who are likely to drink and drive, and another to show the bodies of children who were brutally raped and murdered to parents, who probably already have nightmares about such things. I will say, though, that the film does have an impact despite its shoddy production values and horrible acting.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

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