What is it that freaks us out so much about demonic little children in films? From the Omen to Children of The Corn to The Ring, possessed children have terrified horror movie buffs more than any adult ever could. With the upcoming Feb. 1st DVD release of Let Me In, we’re exploring the Scariest Children in Film.
The Brood (1979)
David Cronenberg bites off a doozy with this story of demented offspring. Psychoplasmics, aka the physical manifestation of a person’s rage, is the central focus of this disturbing film about a woman who gives birth to mutant children who kill anyone she feels anger toward. The little blonde monsters are malformed versions of her "real" daughter, whose screeching fits of rage are enough to chill the viewer to the bone.
The Bad Seed (1956)
Based on William March’s novel of the same name, The Bad Seed was about a little pig-tailed demon named Rhoda Penmark, who terrorizes her saint of a mom and tortures everyone in range while dressed in a pinafore and knee-socks. Patty McCormack’s portrayal of the nasty little monster child is often overlooked, but never overstated in its excellence.
The Omen (1976)
Damien Thorn is the child embodiment of the Anti-Christ, with Gregory Peck as the doting father who comes to learn the unspeakable horrors of his son’s true identity. Deadly "accidents" seem to happen all around the child, as do fanatical nannies with a tendency to launch themselves off of rooftops in suicidal swan-dives. Singlehandedly ensuring the plummeting popularity of Damien as a baby name, the film was successfully remade in 2006.
Children of The Corn (1984)
From the brilliantly macabre mind of Stephen King comes this film adaptation of a novella about a young couple who get stranded in a town that happens to be under the control of some of God’s most demented little darlings. A boy preacher named Isaac has influenced the kids in town to kill their parents, as well as every adult in a 10 mile radius. They now run the land, puppeted remotely by a malevolent demon who hangs out in the cornfields.
Village of The Damned (1960)
Based on The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, a global cosmic event results in all the women in a local village giving birth on the same day, resulting in a brood of overly polite and emotionless children with a knack for mind control. Only one man can see that these would-be lovely little children children are much more dangerous than they appear, and he realizes he may be the only one who can stop them.
The Ring (2002)
Daveigh Chase’s Samara Morgan in The Ring, Gore Verberski’s remake of Hideo Nakata’s horror about the ghost of a little girl with a murderous lust, is as terrifying as they come. There’s something supremely unsettling about a little girl staring dead-eyed into the camera with that creepy voice saying "everyone will suffer," and that whole wall-climbing scene in the well will likely haunt nightmares for another few decades.
Poltergeist, the 1982 film which spawned two sequels and a television series, is perhaps the most cursed film of all time. An alarmingly high death rate among the cast members of the films has caused many to believe that the Devil has a thirst for revenge. Most famously, little 12 year-old star Heather O’Rourke (Carol Anne Freeling) died of septic shock in 1988 at the Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Bacterial toxins set loose by a bowel obstruction made their way into her bloodstream, sending her into cardiac arrest. She was revived, but died on the operating table when she underwent an operation to remove the obstruction. Julian Beck, Dominique Dunne and Will Sampson are just a few others in a long line of untimely deaths related to Poltergeist.
The Exorcist (1973)
Evil doesn’t even begin to cover what’s happening in a little girl Regan’s room. After horrific physical and psychological changes, the girl’s mother contacts a priest who comes to the conclusion that Regan is possessed. Father Merrin, a specialist in these matters, is called in to help save Regan from the demon inside her, and the battle that ensues is a gruesomely mind-bending experience that blurred the lines of reality.
There is actual footage from the first release of the film showing people passing out, vomiting, convulsing and cursing the film. That’s just the icing, however; Deaths were rampant on set, with a total of nine cast and crew members dying throughout the production. As if that wasn’t a tough enough factor to deal with, star Linda Blair was reported to have had a mental breakdown, and a mysterious fire almost shut production down on the film entirely.