A welcome antidote to the typical slasher flicks of the late 70’s/early 80s, the kids vs. monsters sub-genre of horror hit its peak in the latter part of the 80’s before topping out in the early 90’s. After a lull in horror releases, Wes Craven’s mega hit Scream hit the screen and made a huge wad of cash. The focus in horror reverted again to young adults when horror producers realized they could once again draw crowds of teens with disposable cash. Strategically, they could also cast young-looking 25 years olds and do whatever they wanted to them without repurcussion, while a movie featuring a 12 year old might require some tact and sensitivity. Child in peril films have also come under heavy scrutiny in our age of mega coddling and overprotection. Consequently, kid-centric horror films fizzled out completely. Now, very rarely do we encounter movies where kids are proactive in sticking up for themselves, aka kicking the monster’s ass.
Luckily, we have a filmmaker willing to re-ignite the fun, innocence, and yes, empowerment captured in a few of the flicks I listed below. In anticipation of Joe Cornish’s upcoming comedy/sci-fi/horror film Attack the Block, I put together a list of some of my favorite kids vs. monster movies :
watch this trailer for Attack the Block
And now…the LIST
The Monster Squad (1987) – obviously the granddaddy of the kids vs. monsters genre. A group of kids barely into puberty use their vast knowledge of horror movies to combat real life monsters inspired by Universal classic horror. Whatever you do, don’t call Horace “Fat Kid”.
IT (1990) – Pennywise the clown uses all his most frightening tricks to lure the children of Derry, Maine into the sewers. The Loser’s Club fights back, but never forgets that “we all float down here”.
Critters (1985) – furry, toothsome beasties on the lam crash land their hijacked ship on a small farm, it’s up to Brad Brown and two alien bounty hunters with a penchant for 80’s hair metal to stop them from feasting on his family.
The Lady in White (1988) – when Frankie gets locked in the cloakroom by two bullies, he encounters the ghost of a young girl and must stop her murderer from killing again. Creeeepy little film.
Silver Bullet (1985) – Cory Haim fights werewolves from a moto-wheelchair with the help of his nutty Uncle Red (Gary Busey!) while a mean ole reverend acts out all his animalistic fantasies in wolf form.
The Gate (1988) – heavy metal fan Terry and his buddy Glen accidentally unleash demons when they discover a hole to hell in Glen’s back yard.
Paperhouse (1988) – incredibly beautiful and atmospheric story about a young girl who inhabits a scary dream world she created in a drawing.
Invaders From Mars (remake) (1986) – little David can’t convince anyone but the school nurse (Karen Black) that everyone in town is being taken over by aliens, so he enters their lair all on his own.
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) – Jim and Will find out that Mr. Dark’s wish fullfillment services are not all they’re cracked up to be. Duh, his name is MR. DARK.