The Creepiest Kids in Film You Won’t Soon Forget
With “Mama” scaring up the box office as of late, I thought it was time to take a look at Mama’s minions; those devilish little tykes that you just know are up to.something. Maybe they’re reacting to trouble you can’t see- or maybe they are the trouble. There’s just no telling in a horror movie with kids. This list is comprised of the best and the worst of the bunch: the creepy kids some of us just can’t shake our memories of!
Was anything scarier than Macaulay Culkin‘s success in the late 80s-early 90s? Okay, I can think of a few things, but it’s up there, people! So, when word got out that there was a film in which Culkin played the heavy, and that he met a, shall we say (spoiler alert on a freaking 20-year-old film), untimely demise, some people couldn’t wait to see it, to like. applaud and stuff, you know? It may have been the first time people actually looked forward to the death of a child, in fact, which is pretty f’d up, if you think about it. Excepting some of the other entries on this list, of course, but remember- this one was grounded in the reality that people had had quite enough of Culkin, thank you very much. People literally cheered at the screening I attended, as the evil Culkin got his comeuppance- at the hand of a (then-future) Hobbit, no less. Good times. I should also mention that I harbor no more ill-will towards Mr. Culkin, and quite enjoyed him in that “Party Monster” movie. But yeah, if you ever wanted to see him bite it, you’re welcome.
Speaking of people you want to see bite it.OHHH!
I kid Dakota Fanning, especially because I saw that very thing happen last year.sort of. (Oh, “Twilight” movies, first you giveth, then you.) But long before the elder Fanning vamped out on us, she did the creepy kid-thing in this movie. There was always something sort of pre-natural about her then, like what people mean when they say someone is an “old soul.” You got the distinct feeling that she devoted a lot more time to being adult than kid, if you know what I mean- and if not, there are “SNL” skits you can look up on the internet that can show you. Here, young, freaky Fanning talked to an “imaginary friend”– or was it a ghost? The answer’s kind of dopey, but it’s got De Niro in it, plus Melissa Leo, Amy “I was once married to Steven Spielberg” Irving, and not one but two hotties in Bond Girl & erstwhile X-Woman Famke Janssen and Piranha Cop & erstwhile Karate Kid main squeeze Elizabeth Shue. Okay, it’s all kinda silly, but it’s an enjoyable silly, though not nearly as much as.
This is one of those movies where, no matter how whacked-out you think things are gonna get going in, they are oh-so-much more whacked than you ever believed possible. I am not even kidding. The ending to this thing is so bananas that the lead actress and orphan-in-question, Isabelle Fuhrman henceforth gets a pass on everything, and I do mean everything she does from there on out. It’s a very rare pass, which only a few people have achieved, but she gets one, and you will have to see for yourself why, at which point you will understand why she gets said pass. To give you some idea of the kind of thing I mean, see also others that have earned said pass on the strength of one movie alone, such as Felissa Rose of “Sleepaway Camp” fame or Betsy Palmer in the original “Friday the 13th.” They’re untouchable, I tell you! See why for yourself, and thank me later. Bonus points for also featuring an equally-whacked actress who gets a pass on the strength of daft talk show appearances alone: should-been sister/wife Vera Farmiga.
If I’m going to give it up for the New Gold Standard that is Fuhrman in “Orphan,” I’ve also got to give it up to her most direct antecedent: Patty McCormack, who managed an Oscar nomination for her turn as the titular terror. Based on the popular play and novel of the same name, this film from 1957 is still one of the most effective creepy kid movies of all time. We see Rhoda progress from a seemingly-sweet little girl to a malevolent terror over the course of the movie and McCormack nails the role. If Fuhrman didn’t study this film to inform her own take on a spawn of Satan, she certainly could have saved herself some time and research if she had.
You can’t talk Satan’s spawn without talking Damien. In this case, the moniker was literal, as little adopted cutie Damien is indeed the Anti-Christ. This is what happens when you cross-breed, people. In this case, with a jackal, which I believe is some fur-based animal of some kind. Have you ever wondered why a jackal, of all things? I mean, why does the poor jackal get such a bad rap? Couldn’t they have made it, I don’t know, baboon or something? Look how scary they are. Remember that scene in the movie where they go on safari and the monkeys attack? That’s way scarier than a jackal, which I can’t even picture. Are they the ones that laugh? Hmm.a question for another time.
So, yeah. Damien, he’s scary. And his theme song is pretty untouchable, though I sometimes get it confused with “Carmen.” Because of this, parents still keep an eye out for sixes if their kid starts acting up. But why does it have to be sixes? Why can’t it be sevens? Why does seven get all the glory? Why.oh, never mind.
King’s world is so populated with creepy kids, I hardly know where to begin, but let’s start with those Heartland honeys, the Children of the Corn. Did you know there are, like, nearly ten movies based on the story, but that the story that inspired them was only, like, ten pages long? Weird, huh? It barely even qualifies as a story by King’s lengthy standards. I mean, this guy spends more time blowing his nose in a given day than he devotes to writing a stinking ten pages. Ten pages? He lines his bird’s cage with your ten pages, gringo! So there.
Or how about the fact that the “COTC”-movies feature the likes of Linda Hamilton, Nancy Allen, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Eva Mendes, and the voice of lifetime-pass getting “Orphan”-star Isabelle Fuhrman? Well, they do. They also mostly suck, but the first does feature one of my fave pieces of choice bad movie dialogue: “Outlander! We have your woman!” So very awesome. Ich bin ein Outlanders!
Seeing that flying vampire kid floating outside someone’s window in “Salem’s Lot” was pretty freaky. I had nightmares not about the kid, but the way he trickled his fingers along the window to be let in. Eep! There’s also those twin girls in “The Shining”: “Come and play with us, Danny.forever and ever.” Eeesh. Pass, girls. I’ve got some mean motor-scootin’ to do. Me and Damien, we tandem on Tuesdays.
Or how about that little cutie Gage in “Pet Sematary,” whose line still gives me chills even when I think about it- or type it, as the case may be: “First I play with Judd, then mommy came, and I play with mommy. We play daddy, we had an awful good time! Now, I want to play with yoooou….” Auggh! Kill it with fire!
Speaking of which, the only thing worse than a kid that turns out to be bad, is one that’s born that way. Lady Gaga be damned, these demon spawn are nothing even the most loving of mothers would want to see.
In serial nightmare-inducer David Cronenberg‘s “The Brood,” we see what results when a mother’s anger manifests itself as scary blonde demon seeds. No, not like Ke$ha.although is it possible than she is merely Lady Gaga’s drunken alter-slut-self emerging from the GG’s space egg a few years back? Where’s Cronenberg when you need him?
Oh, I forgot, making films that let us know that, no matter how weird we might think the things we come up with are, they’ve got nothing on the things rumbling around in that guy’s head- and I’m not even including a nude, knife-wielding Viggo Mortensen, mostly because I suspect some of you freaks are into that. I’m off to watch some CIVIC-TV.
Meanwhile, you go check out 1974’s “It’s Alive!”- it’s about a mama that gives birth to a killer baby. Don’t you hate when that happens? As if giving birth wasn’t bad enough, THAT comes out? While you’re at it, see also the sequel “It Lives Again” about several other mamas that give birth to more killer babies and then go to the “Island of the Alive,” where.well, you get the idea. Killer babies rule and they’ve got their own island! Suck on that, “Lost”!
This one is about a place where everyone passes out and when they wake up, all the women are pregnant- no, not a party at Charlie Sheen‘s house. (He uses the Morning After pill, duh.) It’s the Village of the Damned! Invite all your friends! Or at least the ones that want to get knocked-up with super-intelligent creepazoid Hitler Youth. But you know, if you’re going to call the town the Village of the Damned, then you have got to go ahead and assume that you’re going to have Children of the Damned and that that will eventually lead to a crappy Remake of the Damned with the guy that once played Superman. It’s called the rule of three or something. (Why does it have to be three? Why not six? Oh, right.we covered that. But did we? Did we, really?)
These kids have the magic touch.that burns! No, I mean, like, their touch literally burns you. As in, you catch on fire and burn to a crisp from the inside. That must make for awkward family reunions. Or wait.there wouldn’t be any because the adults would all be dead!
What about the kids themselves, though? What happens when they touch each other? On second thought, don’t answer that.we’re running a family website here.
Anyway.if you want to see kids set fire to a bunch of adults just by touching them, this here’s your movie. There’s also a 2008 version by the same name that’s a much better film but not nearly as much fun as the 1980 version I’m talking about. I mean, come on: radioactive kids! What more do you need?
This lesser-known entry is a 1981 slasher film about three kids- remember what I said about the rule of three?- who are born during an eclipse in California to hippies in the 70s, so you just knew they were gonna be evil. Have we learned nothing from Charles Manson, people?
Big shocker, Susan Strasberg is involved, who never met a hippie movie she didn’t try be naked in, stoned on meth or whatever they did back then.crystal acid? Disco pellets? Potpourri? I blame Peter Fonda. Not just for the hippies. Just in general- in life, you know? I’m a giver.
So, it’s the titular threesome’s “Bloody Birthday” and you know what that means! Oh, and did I mention songstress and separated-from-Kate Pierson-at-birth actress Julie Brown was involved? No, the redhead, not the “wubba wubba wubba” one. (I predict approximately three people born during an eclipse in Cali in the 70s will get that joke. What can I say? I love to aim low.)
Anyway, mayhem ensues, and things get, you know, bloody and stuff. Hence the title.
From dirty hippies to.um, dirty hippies, this late 60s shocker all but invented the zombie genre as we know it. It also has one of the more unnerving scenes between a family ever, when a married couple’s little girl has the misfortune to die during a zombie apocalypse. Before you can scream “Trowel!”– our little Karen is back and ready to.um, not garden, I’m guessing. It’s a disturbing scene and it sticks with you because of how young the girl is and the whole killing and eating her parents thing. Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste. (See what I did there?) Ghosts and Ghouls, I give you.the first kid zombie! And still the best, IMHO, because she’s proactive.
From zombie kids to vampire kids.you thought hitting puberty was hard? Try never hitting puberty ever. Like, being perpetually stuck being pre-pubescent, forever residing in a child’s body. Not too cool.
Well, unless you’re like these vampire kiddies, living where they constantly make with the snow. As if being dead didn’t make one cold and miserable enough in the first place, “LTROI” takes place in Sweden. Have you seen a Swedish film? I mean, that Lars Von Trier? He doesn’t seem like he’d be much fun to be around. I think I’d rather be stuck as an eternal pre-pubescent vampire girl than see “Antichrist” again.
What’s that? He’s Danish? Oh, never mind.
Anyway, couldn’t these vampire girls move to somewhere nice, like maybe a tropical island somewhere? They could always go move in with the killer babies. Do killer babies and pre-teen vampire girls get along? Hmm.I smell a new screenplay.
In the meantime, go for the Swedish, stay for the Moretz. Oh, and you might want to avoid the local feline population. Just sayin’.
Asian kids, creepier than the American variety? Discuss.
Personally, I think it all comes down to the hair. For my money, the original Asian flavors, “Ju-On” and “Ringu” are slightly scarier than the American versions, but I get that the subtitles can be distracting.
I do think the freaky Student Film is better in the American “Ring” than in the original and that Naomi Watts is crazy-awesome in everything (even movies about killer elevators and “Children of the Corn IV: This One has Naomi Watts in It”), so there’s that. Also, “Grudge”-star Sarah Michelle Gellar gets a pass, too, in case you were wondering, because she’s FREAKING Buffy. Maybe one day you’ll have one as well! Until then, you can only dream.
Anyway, all of that said, there are few more dread-inducing moments in horror than that scene where Watts tells her son that she dug up Samara the Well-Girl and everything’s cool, and then he’s all like: “WHAT!??? YOU SET HER FREE!???” I’d already seen the original and I still just about crapped my pants when he said that. That was crazy scary, and so is the ending on the whole, with the TV and the crawling and the.general ickiness.
“Ring 2,” though? Can we get Samara on that screenwriter? Or the killer babies? Or at least Ke$ha? I hear you burn after coming into contact with her, too.
In some ways, this is my favorite. The cinematography, the atmosphere, that ending.I mean, wow. I can’t think of another horror movie right off the top of my head that manages to be both so frightening and touching at the same time. Its like “Amelie” crossed with a creepy kid movie, and I mean that as a compliment.
Or a movie (spoiler alert!) that makes such a compelling case for suicide as a viable option, and I mean that in the best way, as it’s the only thing that makes sense in this particular set-up. Put another way, it’s the only movie I can think of where the lead committing suicide constitutes the film ending on a high note. It’s the feel-good suicide movie of the year, I tells ya! (You’ll just have to see for yourself, and I’m not even sure all of that even constitutes a spoiler, as it won’t make sense until you’ve seen it, anyway.)
This one is just straight-up scary. It’s a found-footage flick, but it’s not done in an annoying “Paranormal Activity”/“Blair Witch” sort of way, but played completely stone-faced. Don’t expect any big laughs or in-jokes or self-referential, tongue-in-cheek nonsense. This is horror done right, and done scary. The cast is great, the direction effective, and the ending is perfect. More people should know about this film, so if you rent but one that’s not for spits and giggles, this is the one.
I put these two together as they’re essentially two sides of the same coin. You’ll just have to see them both to see how. The first is based on the classic Henry James story “The Turn of the Screw,” which is one of the all-time great ghost stories. The kids are super-creepy in this one, not in the least because you can’t quite tell if they’re serious about seeing ghosts or just messing with poor Deborah Kerr. I love that the film doesn’t necessarily make that decision for you, either.
The other film is a variation of the same theme, with Nicole Kidman appropriately icy as the governess in charge of the kids at hand, who also claim to see spirits. This one has a great twist, so I suppose which you like better will depend on whether you like all your questions answered or having things be a bit more open-ended in the end. I say, why not have a double-feature and please both contingents?
Okay, so it pretty much had to be this one on top, not that I was really ranking things on the whole. Still, being possessed by Satan is pretty much untopable. Okay, not a word, but you know what I mean.
Forget being the spawn of Satan or a monster or radioactive or whatever. But host to the man himself? Nothing else comes close.
Factor in the fact that, I don’t know, the host is a LITTLE GIRL, and you have the virtual recipe for creepy, especially when “she” starts talking in that freaky demon voice, you know the one. And, as if, possessing a little girl isn’t bad enough, you have make her spew insults? Not too cool, Satan. But then I guess that’s why you’re the tops, bro. Stay demonic, my friend.
Well, that about does it for my creepy kid list. Please do enjoy. Collect them all, impress your friends!