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Children in Horror Movies

As a genre, the horror movie is rife with cliches. There's billowing curtains, demonic toys, and the perennial idiot deciding to have a shower in the middle of a massacre. But surely scariest of all is the evil child - junior tools of Satan, every bit as cruel and pitiless as real children.

Watch Children in Horror Movies story (Requires RealPlayer):

These maniacal moppets have been scaring teenagers into practising responsible birth control for decades. And the scariest evil child movie of all now has a prequel - 'Exorcist: The Beginning' - which sounds like a pretty good excuse to relive some of our child-inspired nightmares in this week's Mondo Movies.

Exorcist: The Beginning

'Exorcist: The Beginning' takes us to 1940s Africa to the first exorcism performed by the exorcist himself, Father Merrin. But for all its grand locations and eerie settings, this isn't nearly as frightening as what happened when a little girl was possessed by Satan in her own home.

The Exorcist

'The Exorcist' was the first time Hollywood had dared to so graphically portray a child possessed by Satan. Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn actually injured their backs filming these scenes, but the result is one of the most affecting horror movies around. Made by bad-boy director William Friedkin, 'The Exorcist' was ingested, dissected, cloned and excreted around the world. Suddenly, Satan was hot, and even hotter if he could corrupt the souls of innocent children.

The Bad Seed

An early hint at the child possession trend was 'The Bad Seed' from 1956. This blond-haired angel was anything but innocent, and Mum's suspicions were aroused with this reaction to her friend's drowning.

RHODA, IN 'THE BAD SEED': Oh, but I thought it was exciting! Can I have the peanut butter sandwich?

There's no devil possession in the script, but the murderous kid is definitely using some of his ideas, making this a chilling film. Rhoda is painted as a very naughty girl indeed, so naughty that Mother bypasses spanking and goes straight for the drug overdose option.

RHODA, IN 'THE BAD SEED': So many?

MOTHER, IN 'THE BAD SEED': Oh, they're a new kind. I'm to take them too.


When that fails, God himself decides it's time to ground Rhoda...permanently.

The Omen

By the '70s, if children were evil, the devil made them do it.

One of the biggest satanic baby pictures of all was 'The Omen'. Gregory Peck and Lee Remick adopt a little boy and realise too late he's the product of Lucifer's loins.

'The Omen' tapped into a market created by 'The Exorcist' and spawned a similar run of bad sequels. But it's one of the better films to be made in the genre, and though it's not as spinechilling today, it'll give you a morbid fear of tricycles and little lads with pageboy haircuts.

Cubbyhouse

And if you prefer your demonic possession movies Aussie-made, that would be the only reason to try 'Cubbyhouse'. Starring 'Blair Witch's Joshua Leonard, it's the story of an American family's move to a dilapidated house in suburban Australia. The house is OK, but beware the evil cubbyhouse. It wants the children.

MOTHER, IN 'CUBBYHOUSE': What the hell's happening?

FATHER, IN 'CUBBYHOUSE': It's not as bad as it looks.


Nice to see a mother not overreacting to her bleeding children back from playing in a satanic cubbyhouse in the middle of the night.

Craig McLachlan is there as a smarmy real estate agent who wears bad shirts. Even the cubby hates them.

This is B-grade, try-hard horror with cliches galore and an air of familiarity. Which brings us to a film in the genre with another blond-haired spooky girl.

Poltergeist

Steven Spielberg wrote and produced this house-haunting extravaganza, and if nothing else, it proves that kids don't have to be in Satan's thrall to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

'Poltergeist' was directed by 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Tobe Hooper, and the combination with Spielberg leaves it with a slightly schizophrenic feel.

While it's frightening, the kids don't actually get possessed. No-one even dies. In fact, the real darkness came after the filming. Little Heather O'Rourke passed away at just 12 years old from a rare intestinal condition, and her older sister in the film, Dominique Dunne, was strangled by her boyfriend the year of her film's release.

The face of innocence transformed to the face of evil is one of the most disturbing and enduring horror devices, and it's high time for another one of the calibre of 'The Exorcist', even if starring in them can be a health hazard.

 

Linda Blair, the Exorcist, movie city news, 1973 movie

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If you are under 25 or have a heart attack Please Please don't see this page. Thanks a lot .Reza.

 

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