Hey horror fans, let me first introduce myself. I’m Michele “Izzy” Galgana, Associate Director of Programming from the Boston Underground Film Festival. I’m the resident horror chick of that fest, and most recently curated all the shorts programs for the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. Mike’s invited me to contribute to All Things Horror Online, and I thought, since he’s a brand new dad, what better way to start off than to skeeve him out with a list of creepy babies and kids in film? I originally wanted to post this on Father’s Day, but my list became so momentous that it took a few days to compile all these awesome clips. Here are my favorite killer/creepy kid movies, in no particular order. Enjoy!
The Bad Seed (1956)
Patty McCormick is the titular seed here, and she gets her way – or else. This film still holds up pretty well. Check out You Tube for the “give me my shoes” clip and others (embedding disabled). She’s the original evil kid. Apparently, there was a more violent ending in the book that the studio changed for the adaptation because of the Hays Code.
The Good Son (1993)
Not a great movie, but worth it to see little Macaulay Culkin get it after a whole ton of evildoing, and a great scene in which he dumps a dummy off a bridge to cause a mass pile up. Don’t try this at home, kids.
KILL, BABY…KILL! (1966)
This homicidal ghost story by horror maestro Mario Bava takes place in a small German town full of superstitious folk who believe that the ghost of a little girl has come back for revenge. They’re right.
The Innocents (1961)
Deborah Kerr stars as a governess who takes a job caring for two orphaned, creepy, indulged kids on a sprawling country estate in this definitive version of Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. The kids may or may not be possessed by malignant spirits. Anyone for tea?
The Others (2001)
Technically not a creepy evil kid movie, there are nonetheless lots of creepy moments involving kids, one of which you can see in the trailer. The film itself has elements of Turn of the Screw, but the story is different, and has a great twist. Great atmosphere and tension.
The Other (1972)
Besides the fact that this film stars a young John Ritter, the story is cool, and the film is excellent. Niles and Holland are grade school twin brothers in a little rural town who share a lot of secrets. One’s pretty evil and the other has amazing ESP. Just look to the trailer, and you’ll be enraptured. A must-see.
Pet Sematary (1989)
“Shumtimes, dead is bettuh.” Little Gage, so tiny, so deadly. Anytime I think of this film, I wonder how they got this toddler to act so ferocious without condemning him to a lifetime of therapy. Then again, I don’t actually know what this child star is up to these days, but he was awesome in the Stephen King adaptation! Here’s a fun fan video:
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
This film is Polanski’s first American flick and was actually produced by William Castle (notorious for his great B-movie films like House on Haunted Hill, Homicidal, 13 Ghosts, The Tingler, Mr. Sardonicus and more). The film is also one of the few horror movies that received an Oscar (Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Ruth Gordon and a nomination for Best Screenplay for Polanski) along with a slew of other awards. Though the main character is a helpless preggo female for most of the film (pixie Mia Farrow) that grates on me, it’s worth watching. Fantomas does a truly awesome rendition of the chilling off-kilter lullaby hummed at the end of the movie. “What have you done to its eyes?!”
It’s Alive (1974)
This clip from Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments does the film much better justice than the trailer. Shortly after being born, a mutant monster baby goes on a killing rampage, which is awesome. The father of the baby decides to help the police track down the little sewer-crawling bastard in a city-wide manhunt.
The Brood (1979)
One of my favorite Cronenberg films. It first assailed my sights when I was probably eleven years old while I was watching Monster Vision on TNT. Joe Bob Briggs brought this insane piece of cinema to my life (along with Motel Hell and Phantasm), and I’ll always be grateful. Sadly, this film is being remade, possibly by Breck Eisner, and is slated for release next year. If you’ve never seen this movie, add it to Netflix, stat! It’s the very strange tale of a mom and her mutant brood of murderous children. And how they kill when she’s pissed off. There’s NO WAY a remake would have the balls to pull off some of these scenes!
Sick punk David Lynch is one of the greats, and my oh my, did he start out warped. This film is so surreal and weird that you just cannot tear your horrified pupils away from the stark black and white images dancing before you. Seriously. Here, we see Lynch regular Jack Nance playing a man whose wife gave birth to a mutant baby. I’m not responsible if this clip gives you nightmares.
Of the recent spate of modern killer/creepy kids films (The Children, The Offspring, Home Movie, The Unborn, Birth, Joshua, Orphan, Hide And Seek, Godsend) this is one of the better attempts at true kiddie horror. Jordan Ladd (Cabin Fever) stars as a recently widowed, expectant mother who gives birth to a stillborn in her home birthing pool. She wishes really hard that the baby revives itself, and magically, it does. Then it starts to nurse and draws blood. What she’s given birth to is a vampire/zombie hybrid sort of baby that draws blood and doesn’t like formula or any other kind of regular baby food. What then develops is somewhat similar to the enabling in the original Hellraiser where Julia lures victims home for Frank.
Who Can Kill A Child? (1976)
This obscure Spanish flick is great and certainly downbeat. One of the best things about the 70s and 80s is that directors, producers, and writers didn’t care if kids got hurt in film. And the end result is often hilarious in these PC times. The story: a man and his wife vacation on a remote Spanish island, only to find it strangely deserted. Then the kids come out, slowly. Turns out they’ve revolted, and killed everyone over a certain age. What ensues is a tale of survivalism, and it’s awesome. This film has one of the best downbeat endings ever committed to film. Highly recommended viewing for those who love creepy, violent kid movies.
This film is currently in theaters, courtesy of our friends from Quebec. Starring modern-day scream queen Sarah Polley and the hawk-beaked Adrien Brody (playing a pair of too-cool, hipster scientists), Splice attempts to reinvent the Frankenstein tale. Enter Dren, a hybrid creature and product of the biochemist engineer couple’s genetic tinkering. I won’t give anything away, but one of the best things about this film is that it goes much further than anything you’d see coming out of Hollywood, and therefore deserves your $9.50. We need more risky films like this at the local multi-plex, and less like that of shyster Michael Bay’s Nightmare On Elm Street remake. The alien chicken thing you see in the clip below eventually becomes somewhat human, which is why I’m including it here. Don’t miss the live slug fight to the death in front of a live audience!
Dead Alive (1992)
Before Peter Jackson got all famous and high class, he made weird, weird stuff like Dead Alive, Meet the Feebles, and Bad Taste. In the scene below, the protagonist treats the zombie baby that has taken up residence (among others, including a zombie priest who formerly kicked ass for the lord) in his mom’s house to a day in the park.
Basket Case (1982)
“What is the secret Dwayne is hiding in the basket?” Oh my god. I love this movie – its innate, violent grindhouse weirdness just makes you feel kinda dirty, and damn, it’s just awesome. So, it’s not technically a creepy kid movie, but the thing in the basket is someone’s brother. Someone’s horribly mutated, demented Siam twin brother. The brothers go on a rampage of revenge against the doctors who surgically separated them. This sick little nugget is brought to you by Frank Henenlotter, who also directed “Wanna date?!” Frankenhooker and Bad Biology. If you haven’t seen this, do it now. It’s a whopping eight bucks on Amazon.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Sarah Polley again, this time starring in the remake of a pretty great zombie movie by Lord Romero. When I saw it in the theater, some Puerto Rican guy had actually brought his TODDLER to the film. I’m thinking it fell asleep, because I didn’t hear it, thankfully. Anyway, this film isn’t fantastic, but it has a lot of fun elements, like the delightfully hilarious zombie baby.
Devil Times Five (1974)
Seventies child pop star Leif Garrett (plus his real-life sister and mom) starred in this little shocker – yet another movie where children revolt against adults. In this case, they’er psychotic to begin with. They escape on their way to a mental institution and quickly find refuge with some naïve adults in a snowed cabin. Includes piranhas in a bathtub, and you can’t go wrong with that.
Don’t Go To Sleep (1982)
This was a made-for-TV killer kiddie flick, and no doubt disturbed the general populace when it aired. It uses the cliché of a child’s death and the parents’ subsequent attempt at a new life. Throw in some visions of the dead little girl, a trashy, nagging, smoking grandma, producer Aaron Spelling, and bodies piling up, and you’ve got a nice little prime time shocker. In this scene, the ghost of the dead older sister taunts the younger one. A little later on, there’s a bathtub electrocution of hairy dad stud Dennis Weaver.
Village of the Damned (1960)
As a result of some kind of gas, every female able to rear kids does, nine months after the strange phenomenon. They all birth tiny blond, blue-eyed little Hitler youth gifted with telekinesis. This bad bundle of Aryan kids with glowing eyes set themselves upon parents and adults of all kinds, and undoubtedly made audiences uneasy. This was the original before John Carpenter decided to remake it in the 80s with Christopher Reeve and (shudder) Kirstie Alley.
The Orphanage (2007)
Guillermo Del Toro protege Juan Antonio Bayona directs this sincerely chilling and heartbreaking film about lost child Tomas and his mother’s search for him in and around her home for handicapped children. A truly tense and unsettling original story. The burlap sack mask ups the creep quotient.
Devil’s Backbone (2001)
This film no doubt had a huge influence in the look and flavor of The Orphanage. Set at the end of the Spanish civil war in 1939, the story centers around a group of hapless orphans caught in the middle of some bad adults in addition to the horrors of war. Add a very scary ghost child that predicts more bad things, some hidden gold, and a great director, and you have a fantastic, award-winning film.
Trick ‘r Treat (2008)
This is arguably one of the best Halloween films ever made, and acts as an homage to the holiday itself and to the old moral tales of EC Comics, Tales From the Darkside, and Tales From the Crypt. It takes on a similar format of the aforementioned series, and shuffles back and forth between them adeptly. The key piece holding the stories together, is Sam, Halloween’s protector of rules and general tiny miscreant. The stories themselves are enjoyable and all have fun and spooky twists. The film is highly nostalgic and feels like a bowl of popcorn and candy corn on a creepy fall night.
Children of the Corn (1984)
Though not an amazing Stephen King adaptation, this movie is nonetheless noted for a Southern pack of holy roller kids who make themselves judge, jury, and executioner, and that’s scary enough.
Plague Town (2008)
I hosted this film and its director at BUFF 2009. I’ve gotta say, when I was watching the screener at home, it actually made me jump once, and has a great opening scene. The plot: an American family touring the Irish countryside misses their last bus back to civilization. They encounter a whole crop of deformed, inbred Irish kids. Good for watching in a dark room with friends and a few bowls of popcorn.
The Shining (1980)
“Come and play with us.” Poor Danny. Not only is his dad a selfish, alcoholic jerk, but he’s very sensitive to the ghost world inhabiting the Overlook Hotel. In fact, there’s a ghost who lives in his mouth and speaks to him through his finger in a creaky voice. “It’s just like pages in a book, Danny. It isn’t real.”
The Exorcist (1973)
Heralded as one of the of the scariest movies of all time, this film put a whole lot of baby boomers into therapy. My mom will actually hit me if I mention it, so of course, I own the dvd. There’s nothing to be said about this film which hasn’t already been said, so just enjoy. I’d be freaking out if I saw this thing coming down the stairs, too:
Ju-on (The Grudge) (2002)
Here’s a tale of ghostly revenge from J-horror auteur Takashi Shimizu. Ju-on stars a little meowing ghost boy, among other horrors. Skip the American remake.
Lastly, I’ll just end this mammoth post with what I imagine childbirth must be like.