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.
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' 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.
'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
When that fails, God himself decides it's time to ground Rhoda...permanently.
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
'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.
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.
IN 'CUBBYHOUSE': What the hell's happening?
FATHER, IN 'CUBBYHOUSE': It's not as bad as it looks.
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.
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.
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.
directed by 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Tobe Hooper, and the combination with Spielberg leaves it with a slightly schizophrenic
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.
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.