When it comes to horror, writers go back to the old “evil in the shape of a child” motif time and time again. I know some people who hate it and I also know some people who love it. I am part of the latter group. I’ve always found things extra creepy when evil is represented as a child, especially when the character has a tragic aspect to it. The problem with top ten lists is that there is no way to include everybody so I give you something that is most assuredly not definitive but a pretty good representation of what I’m partial to. Here we go!
10) Rhoda Pennmark (The Bad Seed 1956) Nothing like little miss perfect in pigtails being a killer sociopath. I was reluctant to include her on the list because; while The Bad Seed is an excellent thriller I wouldn’t exactly say it’s horror. Highlights include her conversation with the old groundskeeper Leroy that results in him being burned alive.
9) The Grady twins (The Shining 1980) When it comes to iconic images of ghosts, you can’t really deny that the Grady twins are right up there. Even though they don’t really do much in Kubrick’s film, I’ve always been creeped out by their scene with Danny. “Come play with us?” No thanks!
8 ) The Brood (The Brood 1976) Anyone who has sat down to watch David Cronerberg’s The Brood cannot deny that it’s a wild ride into what-the-fuck. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you do. You have a bunch of murderous children psychically linked to their mother who kill whoever enrages her and it’s not pretty. Highlights include the children overwhelming poor Raglan and busting through the closet door after Candice.
7) The infant (It’s Alive 1974) What’s scarier than the prospect of being a new parent? Well how about if your baby is a horrible mutant with fangs that kills anyone it sees. It’s Alive makes the list on the laurels of being a killer baby movie. It’s totally ridiculous but I think that’s why I like it. Highlights include the birthing scene and the baby stalking the milkman to his doom.
6) Santi (the Devil’s Backbone 2001) In the wake of the 6th sense, Hollywood churned out quite a few ghost stories, one of which was the Devil’s Backbone. Santi is a tragic apparition that serves as a powerful reminder that history can and does repeat itself. The flick was directed by Guillermo del Toro, so his special brand of heavy handed messages are found in abundance. The Highlights is defiantly Santi’s tragic origin.
5) Isaac/Malaki (Children of the Corn 1984) There was something about the children of the corn that really made me want to see those kids get what was coming to them. I think if one evil child is creepy, than a bunch of them would be even worse. I couldn’t decide who was freakier in Children of the Corn, Isaac had the whole religious zealot thing going on, or Malaki who was much more brutal. Highlights are defiantly Malaki sacrificing Isaac, and then Isaac’s revenge.
4) Damien Thorn (The Omen 1976) For the fourth spot I picked Damien purely because it doesn’t get much better than straight up being the anti-christ. The Omen would see a lot of lesser sequels spawned from it and, of course, the remake in 2006. Despite all of that, the film has always been a great example of stuffing a lot of biblical evil into a cute little kid.
3) Regan MacNeil (The Exorcist 1973) There would be no way to do this list without including Linda Blair’s foul-mouthed pea- soup-spitting monstrosity. The Exorcist was nothing short of groundbreaking, and the special effects coupled with the insane language just makes for a totally in-your-face horror icon. Highlights include the crab walking scene down the stairs and the infamous “cross scene.”
2) Sadako/Samara (The Ring/Ringu 1998/2002) Whether you like the originals or the remakes, it’s hard to deny that The Ring produced an instantly classic and freaky little ghost girl. The Ring brought Japanese horror to the mainstream and made me kind of afraid of my own television. Highlights include her first emergence from the television set, and her well climb in the Ring 2.
1) Toshi Saeki (Ju-on/The Grudge 2003/2004) Well we’ve reached the number one spot and many of you might be surprised at the decision. Trust me, I don’t mean to lessen the ground breakers that have come before it, but for me the freakiest kid has to go to Toshi AKA cat-boy. Like The Ring, I enjoyed both the originals and the remakes. I don’t know if I was the right age or in the right place, but The Grudge movie sucked me in and this kid scared the crap out of me (I mean jeez look at that thing’s face). The worst part about this kid is how he just turns up everywhere. Highlights include showing up under the table at a restaurant and, of course, his attack on William’s family.
Well that’s my list. Have I missed some of your personal favourites? Or do you think I have the order all screwed up? Comment and tell me what you think and as always thanks for reading!