Children are supposed to be our future, right?
As parents, everything we do once we have children is to prepare them for their own life and try and teach them everything we wished we knew at their age. Most parents want their children to have a better life than they had. This is only natural.
We suffered so our kids don’t have to.
Parenting in the movies is definitely a mixed bag at best. There are many examples on both sides of the spectrum. From Steve Martin and Diane Keaton in “Father of the Bride and Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo in the “Vacation” movies to Faye Dunaway in “Mommie Dearest” and Jack Nicholson in “The Shining, we have seen both sides many times.
Most of the time even in these examples the children seem no worse for wear at the end (except maybe for an occasional “redrum”!) Evil children in film are something totally different and something we don’t see nearly as often.
Most of the time we have to believe children are under the influence of an evil spirit, demon, entity or some other external force. It would be hard to believe indeed a child would be naturally evil on their own.
10. Children of the Corn
The short story “Children of the Corn” originally premiered in an issue of Penthouse magazine and was subsequently published in a compilation novel of Stephen King stories called “The Night Shift” in 1978. The film spawned a horror franchise which is now at nine films and still going.
The original story focused on a married couple (“Terminator” star Linda Hamilton and television actor Peter Horton) driving across the country, becoming stranded in Gatlin, Nebraska and encountering a weird cult of children led by Isaac (actor John Franklin who also played “Cousin It” in the 1990s “Addams Family” movies). The situation quickly escalates and the couple are on the run for their lives while also trying to avoid Isaac and his child cult.
The film is campy to be sure, but entertaining nonetheless. King criticized the film as he did not like the changes filmmakers made to his original story. Franklin also reprised his “Isaac” role fifteen years later in the straight-to-video sequel “Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return”
A father and author (Ethan Hawke) has moved his family again to a new house while he prepares for his new novel. He discovers some old home movies in the attic and decides to watch them. He discovers they are in fact kind of “snuff films” which show several families brutally murdered. Upon further investigation his uncovers more and more details about the history of the crimes and the existence of Bughuul, an ancient Babylonian god who would kill entire families and devour a child’s soul.
Under the influence of spirit possession, children do unspeakable things in this film as well, but the story is told well and film has a dark, wicked look. Ethan Hawke is a standout in his first horror/thriller=type role.
Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) is a 9-year-old Russian girl who goes to live with her new adoptive parents (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgarrd) after they recently lost their own child. Esther has trouble with her new siblings and her new classmates at school and begins exhibits very bad behavior. Her mother decides to investigate the child’s origins in Russia and finds out more than she bargained for.
This film is a cut above recent horror/slasher films as we generally like the characters and sympathize with their problems and complex lives. The acting by all is first rate including Fuhrman who should have a promising career ahead of her. The film relies on a slow-build tension rather than a multitude of typical “jump scare” moments.
7. The Bad Seed
One of the original evil children on film, this 1956 drama/horror film tells the story of a woman (Nancy Kelly who also starred in the original play production) who slowly starts to believe her young daughter (Patty McCormack) is a coldblooded murderer. The film was based on the very popular Broadway production which was released two years earlier.
The most disturbing aspect of the film is the way it is told, through the eyes of a child. It would be so hard for us to believe a child is capable of such wrongdoing, but the child seems to rationalize it. It was quite controversial at the time. Film audiences were quite shocked by the lying, manipulative young girl and the events portrayed in the film.
At one point, Alfred Hitchcock was asked to direct the film, but declined. Bette Davis had also been interested in played the mother, however, the director decided to stay with Kelly who had originated the role). The three lead actresses were all nominated for Academy Awards in 1956.
6. Village of the Damned
The original 1960 version of this film, which is based on the novel “The Midwich Cuckoos”, follows a small town and its residents who fall asleep only to awaken to discover many women are pregnant. After the children are born, they grow rapidly and have a very similar appearance of blonde hair and spooky eyes. They only seem to associate with each other and start to influence the townspeople into doing things they would normally not do.
The film feels like it has a “Twilight Zone” quality to it. It is definitely a must-watch for fans of 1960’s creepy, sci-fi/horror films. There was an inferior sequel called “Children of the Damned” and a remake of the film made in 1995. The 1995 version starred the late Christopher Reeve in his final role before his tragic equestrian accident in 1995. This version is also far below the original.