5. Pet Sematary
A nice family moves to a house in Maine (go figure since it is written by Maine resident Stephen King) to start a life in the country. The main problem is the very busy highway right off their front yard. The family’s new neighbor (“Herman Munster” Fred Gwynne) tells them about a “Pet Sematary” close to their property. They visit the sematary and the father learns about a hidden area reserved for brining those who have passed on back to life.
First it is the family cat, Church, who gets flattened when he is let out accidentally. The father then buries the feline to wait for his subsequent resurrection. Once completed, Church reemerges not quite the same as he was before. Unfortunately, young child, Gage, is also a victim of a large semi-truck, and his father cannot bear the anguish of being without him. He brings his young, lifeless body to the “sematary” for his own rebirth. Gage also comes back, but with an evil inside him.
Child actor, Miko Hughes, is very convincing is the demonic undead child bent on murder. The whole idea of the film is very disturbing, just like most of King’s work. King himself was present during most of the shooting since the movie was shot only 20 minutes from his home. This actually was the first filmed screenplay King had adapted from one of his own novels.
4. The Grudge (Ju-On)
Unlike “The Ring”, the original Japanese “Ju-On: The Curse (Curse Grudge)” (2000) is considered to be far superior to its American counterpart “The Grudge” (2004) starring “Buffy” alum Sarah Michelle Gellar. One note is both films (and the sequels) had the same director, Takashi Shimizu. This story involves a curse which inhabits locations where death has occurred to spread its evil to those that remain.
Both versions contain several evil children to haunt and torment the young heroine while she tries to stay alive. While ot at the level of “The Ring” both films have some scares and spooky moments. As with “The Ring”, some of the sounds and sound effects are effecting in getting under your skin. The films lost quality quickly after many subsequent sequels.
3. The Omen
The original 1976 classic helmed by “Superman” director, Richard Donner, tells the story of Damien Thorn, the child of an American ambassador, who was given to his father at the hospital after his original child was stillborn. This was Donner’s first feature film after being a very successful television director at that point in his career. As the child grows, evil events begin to unfold showing the child as possibly containing an evil presence within or even being the son of Satan.
One elements of the film Donner insisted upon was it be based in “reality” to make the terror more intense. Any supernatural or fantasy elements were removed. Gregory Peck gives a convincing and powerful performance as Damien’s father. Peck had actually “retired” seven years earlier, so filmmakers were surprised and elated when he agreed to star in the film.
Damien witnesses and participates in events happening around him, but the performance given by child actor Harvey Stephens was very unstated except for a few scenes. Maybe this as due to him being only 6-years –old when he made the film. Stephens actually had a cameo as “Tabloid Reporter #3” in the surprising-good 2006 remake of the film starring Live Schreiber and Julia Stiles.
2. The Ring (Ringu)
The original Japanese (1998) and American (2002) versions of “The Ring are actually pretty similar in story. They are both based on the “Ring Trilogy” novels by Koji Suzuki. The Japanese version currently has a 97% on RottonTomatoes.com and IMDb rating of 7.3 while the American version is at 72% and 7.1 respectively.
The back stories of the main characters differ and the origin of the evil child (Samara vs. Sadako) are not the same, but the basic idea of a “cursed” videotape in which you watch and then mysteriously die 7 days later remains the same. The “Hollywood” version had quite a larger budget ($48 million vs. $1.2 million) as one would expect, bigger isn’t always better. The “TV” scene at the end of both films is actually pretty similar as well. Just more CGI in the Hollywood version.
Both versions prove you don’t need lots of blood and gore to be scary. Just the opposite. The eerie sound effects in both versions go a long way to help aid in the uneasy feeling you have while watching both films. The suspense is more intense when you are left to wonder what happened or some scary elements happen off-screen. Movie fans should definitely check both out.
1. The Exorcist
It was recently announced production company Morgan Creek sold its film library and the rights to many popular films including “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”, “Major League” and “The Exorcist” franchise. This prompted director William Friedkin to promptly Tweet in reply: “I mention it only in passing, but I don’t believe Morgan Creek has the rights to THE ORIGINAL, only the so-called sequels.” It does appear likely we will see a remake of “The Exorcist” in our lifetime.
Definitely the most well-known evil child on the list, Regan MacNeil is a girl like any other. She has a loving actress mother (Ellen Burstyn) and a missing father. No one really knows how she became possessed by “the devil”. The movie is just as much about the journey Regan takes from loving child to vulgar, soup-spewing demon spawn from hell as it is the shocking portrayal by Blair. Audiences at the time had never seen anything like it.
Many people had to leave the theater as it was too uncomfortable and disturbing for them. Willilam O’Malley, who played Father Dyer in the film, has said the movies was indeed partially true. He claims the movie did change a few details but the actual events did really happen.
Did you know the film was actually nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1973 including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress? Unfortunately it did not win any acting awards, only those for Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Honorable mentions for this list include:
Halloween (young Michael Myers)
Dawn of the Dead
Interview with the Vampire
The Shining (evil twins)
V: The Final Battle
Author Bio: Andy Kubica is a life-long cinephile. Having spend time as a video store manager, movie theater manager and the first DVD buyer for a former rental chain he now spends every waking moment reducing his film “bucket list”.