Horror/sci-fi films and thrillers have used a lot of themes and gimmicks through out the years to tell their tales. One of the most popular gimmicks is the one I like to call “the evil little kid” gimmick. This is the one where the film depicts a child, something we commonly associate with goodness, purity and innocence, turning evil somehow. This can be done by demon possession, by turning the child into a murderer, and alien, a zombie or simply turning him into one evil little bastard for no reason whatsoever. I guess if you've been a regular reader of this blog, by now you are used to my monster posts on any given subject, and this is one of them! The following are a series of films that play with these themes in one form or another. Hope you have fun reading through the list and adding some you haven’t seen to your list of must watch’s. Feel free to mention any that I might have left out!
Title: Village of the Damned (1960)
Director: Wolf Rilla
Comments: This movie was so ahead of its time! I’m surprised the dialog is so crisp and direct, so serious for a horror/sci-fi from the 60s. Normally, these kinds of genre films from the 60s can be quite goofy and cheesy, not this one though. The images of the alien kids are striking, and the lines they say, chilling. A very underrated horror/sci-fi. More people should see this one. Don’t underestimate it because it’s from the 60s and black and white, this movie will rock your socks off.
Quote: “You have to be taught to leave us alone”
Title: Children of the Damned (1964)
Director: Anton Leader
Comments: This is the sequel to 1960’s Children of the Damned. On this one, the big change is that the alien children come from all over the world, not just a small town in England. This is a very satisfying sequel with a really excellent climax. I love how ambiguous and mysterious the children remain even after the film is over. They feel like a true threat…yet at the same time, like the are wise in their ways. Highly recommend this sequel.
Title: Village of the Damned (1995)
Director: John Carpenter
Comments: John Carpenter’s take on the 1960 original. It stars Christopher Reeves in his last role before becoming a paraplegic. One of Carpenters best flicks. The children are a bit more evil on this version. The image of their glowing yellow eyes and their white hair will stay in your mind for a while.
Quote: “Why do you speak some thoughts, but not others?”
Title: Salem’s Lot (1979)
Director: Tobe Hooper
Comments: This is one of my childhood favorites. This was one of the first horror films to really scare me and didn’t let me sleep. That image of the vampire kids scratching the windows chilled me to the bone! And this was a t.v. movie! It benefits from having Hoopers direction.
Quote: “Open the window Mark. Please! Let me in! It’s okay I’m your friend. He commands it!”
Title: Orphan (2009)
Director: Jaume Collet Serra
Comments: Yeah, this movie is similar in themes to other evil children movie (most notably, it resembles ‘The Good Son’ a lot. But putting that aside, it’s the way this story is told that makes it special. Its surprisingly good from a visual perspective as well. Solid performance from the girl who plays the titular Orphan. A shocker of an ending!
Quote: “If I find out that you are lying, I will cut your little prick off before you know what its for. Do you understand me?”
Title: The Good Son (1993)
Director: Joseph Ruben
Comments: This was the movie that was supposed to change Mcaulay Culkin’s whole cute kid image that he worked so hard to build with the first two incredibly successful Home Alone movies. Gotta say, it was a shock to see him acting in this movie, where he is all sorts of evil. He infiltrates Elijah Woods family and tries to get them to hate him. This movie plays a lot like the recent Orphan.
Quote: “Once you realize you can do anything, you are free. You can fly. Nobody can touch you…nobody.”
Title: The Shinning (1980)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Comments: A lot of people feel that the two ghost twins that appear at the end of a hallway in The Shining are far scarier than Jack Nicholson wielding an axe, I don't know if I agree with that, but I do know one thing. These ghost girls freak me out! Toppled with that image that follows of the corridor being flooded with buckets of blood and we got ourselves one freaky sequence. But even though we have these two ghost girls in the film, we also got one good kid, who has the ability to communicate with the dead.
Title: Beyond the Door (1974)
Director: Ovidio G Assonitis
Comments: This was a cheap Italian The Exorcist rip-off. It has everything you liked from The Exorcist only done in a cheaper less classier way. But don’t underestimate this one, it has its moments. Problem is, you have to wait all all the wait till the end of the movie for it to get good. It does have one good moment in which the toys in the boys room come to life which is excellent. Also, even though this one is a cheap Italian knock off, in my opinion I think it might have influenced films like The Omen (1976) and Poltergeist.
Title: Shock (1977)
Director: Mario Bava and Lamberto Bava
Comment: This Mario Bava film, was co-directed with his son, Lamberto Bava. It was Mario Bava’s last film, so its special in that way. Unfortunately, its missing a lot of the things you might have loved from Bava’s earlier films. Mainly, the colors, and that old school gothic feel that films like Black Sabbath, Black Sunday and Baron Blood thrive in. This one was marketed as a sequel to Beyond the Door. It stars the same child actor who plays the evil kid on Beyond the Door. It has its moments as well, but like Beyond the Door, they are mostly clustered all the way in the ending of the film. It does have some standout nightmare sequences that you might enjoy.
Title: Pet Semetary (1989)
Director: Mary Lambert
Comment: I don’t know how they got the little kid in this film to act as evil as he did, but I have to say that those scenes are quite chilling! Just seeing that little kid chopping off some dudes ankle…jeez! I’ve always thought this movie was really creepy. Some might find the ghost character a little off putting, because he serves as a way to lighten things up a bit, but putting him aside, this movie is one creepy trip!
Title: Joshua (2007)
Director: George Ratliff
Comments: Similar in tone to films like The Good Son and Orphan. On this one, Joshua is the son of a wealthy couple who gets jealous when his mother gives birth to a new baby girl. When he feels neglected, he starts doing all sorts of crazy things to call attention upon himself. It gets creepy, but is very subtle with its horror roots. Those expecting a horror movie might get a bit disappointed. Its more of a psychological film.
Quote: “I’ll give you five dollars if you let me throw a rock at you”
Title: The Exorcist (1973)
Director: William Friedkin
Comments: The classic. I don’t think I need to say much about this one cause you all know how good this one is. Its probably the mother of all these evil little kid movies. I mean, the kid in this movie gets possessed by a bunch of demons! She screws a crucifix and spews yellow pea soup vomit at a priest, cant get worse then that I think.
Quote: “Your mother sucks cocks in hell Karras! You faithless slime!”
Title: The Omen (1976)
Director: Richard Donner
Comments: This one gives us the evil little kid formula in the form of the anti-christ. I find this movie to be extremely effective. Not many people have noticed this, but I think this movie was highly influential on the Final Destination films. It has that whole angle of pictures predicting deaths. And then the grizzly deaths occurring afterwards. Speaking of the deaths, they are extremely effective! This movie has one of the best decapitations ever on any film. The child is creepy as hell, without having much dialog in the film. It was followed by two more sequels, one shows Damian (the antichrist) as a teenager, the other as an adult. The crappy remake sucked ass, don’t bother with it.
Title: Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Director: George Romero
Comment: Romero’s classic has one of the first zombie kids on any movie! I remember showing my mother caught me one time seeing this movie when I was a kid…I was watching it one night, with the lights turned off and the volume low. But, sure enough, she came out of her room and decided to see what I was seeing! Strange how she chose to sit exactly during the moments when the zombie girl attacks her mother! She was extremely offended and turned off the t.v. right away, which of course led me to think one thing: this movie kicked ass!
Title: Children of the Corn (1984)
Director: Fritz Kiresch
Comment: I liked this movie because it comments on the crazy nature of religion. The leader says something and surely enough, there will be followers who do his or her bidding. All in the name of “the lord”. The monster in the end was a really disappointing, I was expecting a really cool monster. Unfortunately, it was incredibly cheap looking and pissed me off. This one was followed by an avalanche of never ending sequels, which continue to this very day! A remake was the most recent one, haven’t bothered watching it. Can anyone out there cue me in on if its good or not?
Quote: “We want to give you peace.”
Title: The Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Director: Joe Dante
Joe Dante’s segment of this anthology film tells the story of a little boy with the powers to make any wish and thought he can think of true. So when his sister pisses him off with insults, he simply disappears her mouths! When his family pisses him off, he vanishes them off to another dimension! And when he gets really pissed off? The Warner Brothers cartoons that he loves to watch come to horrifying life!
Quote: “Its not fair! You are supposed to be happy when your dreams come true!”
Title: Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Director: Zack Snyder
Comments: There is a segment in which a pregnant lady on this film gives birth to a zombie baby. Its pretty effective, and when I saw I thought wow…this movie is so original! I had never seen anything like that on any movie! Then I find out years later that it had already been done in The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue.
Director: Barry Sonnenfield
Comments: I love this movie and its awesome sequel to death. The comedy and the dialog is really hilarious. Wednesday and Pugsley Addams are hilarious with the deadly games they play. When Wednesday asks Pugsley to sit on an electric chair, he asks why and Wednesday answers “so we can play a game”. He asks “what game” and she answers “It’s called: Is there a God?” It is witty dialog like that one that keeps me going back to this well produced and directed film based on Charles Addams wonderfully gothic cartoons. Tim Burton is supposed to start production on a new Addams Family film, and its going to be done in stop motion animation. Let’s hope that production sees the light of day, because I’m really curious to see what Burton can do with The Addams Family franchise in stop motion animation. It should be something special.
Quote: “Nobody gets out of the Bermuda Triangle. Not even for a vacation, everybody knows that.”
Director: Gore Verbinski
Comments: To me this was a great example of how to make a good PG-13 horror film. You don’t need blood and guts to scare people to death, which this movie did; very effectively. I remember seeing it with an audience. The audience reaction in the theater was electrifying. The scene of the ghost emerging from the T.V. set was a movie moment if there ever was any! It was followed by an incredibly disappointing sequel, which curiously enough was directed by the guy who had made “Ringu” the original Japanese film on which this remake is based on!
Director: J.S. Cardone
Comments: This film is about a family that moves to a lonely cabin in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. They are not aware of it, but at night, a group of zombie kids emerges from nearby caves to feed! The images on this film are dark and atmospheric, unfortunately, the storyline feels convoluted at times and disjointed, resolving many plot points in a rush, and leaving other plot points in the air.
Director: Harry Hook
Comments: This was one of the first films I saw that truly shocked the hell out of me! I was a kid, and had not seen many dramas or films that didn’t involve monsters or special effects. So when I went to see this one to the theaters, I remember leaving the theater strangely shocked and moved. I felt like I had just taken a cold shower. The movie is about a group of kids that crash land and end up surviving in a desserted island. Soon they divide into two groups. The more moral driven ones, and the more chaotic ones. A violent war for survival ensues. Highly recommend this one if you have never seen it.
Quote: “When you other brats get older, or hungry enough, you can join up too.”
Director: Neil Jordan
Comments: This is one of my favorite vampire movies ever. Neil Jordan directs an epic life spanning tale of three vampires surviving in a world that rejects them. Kirsten Dunst steals the show as the little girl that gets turned into a vampire, only to remain a little girl for the rest of eternity! What happens when a little girl grows mentally, but not phiscally? She gets angry that’s what! This movie has some great visual effects! One scene has Kirsten Dunst slitting Tom Cruises throat! It looks so real you cant even tell that it was a puppet made out to look like Cruises character. A testament to the awesome special effects wizardry of Stan Winston.
Director: Rob Zombie
Comment: On this one we see a side of Michael Myers we had never seen before. His childhood. Want to see why Michael Myers was so messed up in the head? See this movie! The first half works as a prequel to the original Halloween, while its second half works as a remake of the original. Michael Myers was turned into a force of nature not to be fucked with on this film. Director Rob Zombie made sure he depicted Myers as a fierce unstoppable killing machine, in contrast to the more quiet and creepy nature of how John Carpenter portrayed him in the original. Not a bad remake in my book. Just different.
Director: Mario Bava
Comment: Bava was a master at creepy ghost stories, and this is one of the good ones as far as Im concerned. Atmospheric to the max! Not his best film, but certainly not his worst. This one has many of Bava’s signature visuals, creepy supernatural entities looking through windows, lots of fog and windy nights. And yes, even a witch features into the story. This film was extremely influential on Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, so if anything, see it for the similarities with that film. But you should just watch it because its Mario Bava doing what he does best: gothic horror!
Director: Peter Jackson
Comment: The evil kid in this one is a zombie baby, offspring of a zombie priest and a zombie nurse. Yup, you read that right! And if you haven’t seen this gory splatter fest of a zombie film, then do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a gag a minute blood bath that you wont soon forget. Its equal amounts comedy and horror. Plus you'll get a chance to see just what kind of film Peter Jackson was making before he did all those Lord of the Ring movies. Highly recommended!
Other films I didnt have time to write about but have Evil Kids in them:
The Children (1980)
The Orphanage (2009)
Its Alive! (1974)
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Who Can Kill a Child?
Night of the Living Dead (1990)