Compiling a Top Ten Kids in Horror list isn't easy. Criteria for inclusion in this case is because of something memorable the kids do, whether fighting against evil, representing evil itself, or just being plain creepy. They have to earn it, in other words. In some cases, juvenile heroes from low-budget b-movies gain more points than the antichrist himself because, well, little Damien Thorne doesn't actually do very much except look creepy. But you gotta include Satan's own whippersnapper, right? Right. Wouldn't want to piss off his old man; I hear he's got one hell of a temper.
Close but no cigar (they're all too young to smoke anyway): The Coreys (Haim and Feldman) in The Lost Boys, Corey Haim in Silver Bullet, young Tatum in Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, little Karen Cooper in Night of the Living Dead, the zombie kids at aircraft hanger in Dawn of the Dead, and of course little Danny Torrance in The Shining (couldn't have two entries on that one!).
Ok then boys and girls? Let's play.
10 .Halloween (1978) Young Michael - (Will Sandin)
He's 6 years old and lives in a nice house in the pleasant suburban surroundings of Haddonfield, Illinois. He’s got a great clown outfit and there’s nothing he likes more than to spend his Halloweens showing off what he can do with his trusty kitchen knife. Big sis is the first to get it, after a quick bit of 'how’s yer father' with her boyfriend while Ma and Pa Myers are out for the evening. Michael then deftly proceeds to educate her in Rule No.1 of being a slasher victim: sex = death. Michael’s parents must have been disappointed - what a little monster they spawned. He must’ve been grounded for ages. With no sweets. Although he wasn’t allowed to keep the knife, he managed to procure one just like it for his return many years later when he came home again and again and again and again and ag…
Went on to appear in: a nice pair of slacks.
9 .The Bad Seed (1956) Rhona Penmark - (Patty McCormack)
She’s little, she’s cute, she’s a natural born killer. When enfant terrible Rhona doesn’t get to keep the medal she’s convinced she should have won at school, she bashes the Daigle kid to death with her steel capped shoes, then pushes him into the lake. And she’s done similar before, too. But it looks like butter wouldn’t melt, naturally. Although this initial adaptation of the stage play (which is an adaptation of the novel) is a virtual filming of the theatrical experience, and as such feels almost suffocated in its sense of staginess, there’s no denying the strength of this chilling story involving hereditary evil – a bad seed indeed. This has been remade for TV and another remake from Eli Roth is currently in production.
Went on to appear in: about 40 American TV movies you won’t have heard of.
8 .Children of the Corn (1984) Job & Sarah (Robby Kiger and AnneMarie McEvoy)
Little Job and Sarah miraculously seem to survive on the outside of the local youth club, led by an evil squirt by the name of Isaac. This is because Sarah is a dab hand with clairvoyant crayoning and, well, maybe they left Job alone because he has no fear of 'He who walks behind the rows'. Job is particularly adept at finding great hiding places in the adult-free town of Gatlin and assisting the interloping grown-ups ignite the cornfields, pissing off Isaac and that geezer who walks behind them rows no end. 'An Adult Nightmare' indeed, and one stands up quite well today. "He wants you too, Malachaaaaaaaai!"
Went on to appear in: (Robby Kiger) The Monster Squad, Micki and Maude, Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael. (AnneMarie McEvoy) Jury Duty: The Comedy (TV), The Magic Boy's Easter, Hostage Flight, Lots of Luck, Invitation to Hell (All TV movies)
7 .Poltergeist (1982) Carol Anne Freeling - (Heather O'Rourke)
And now for a sad entry on Top Ten Kids. If little Heather O’Rourke were alive today, she’d no doubt be happy to know that her famous line in the Hooper/Spielberg film ("They’re here!") has gone down as one of the most famous quotes in horror film history. When the incredibly bright and undoubtedly talented nipper was only 4 years old, a stranger asked her what her name was, to which she replied, "My name is Heather O'Rourke. But you're a stranger, and I can't talk to you". The stranger was Steven Spielberg and history was soon to be made, even though Spielberg was originally looking for someone older. She died of a cardiac arrest on 31/01/88.
Went on to appear in: Poltergeist II and Poltergeist III
6 .The Omen (1976) Damien Thorne - (Harvey Stephens)
Young Damien Thorne has it all. A massive house, all he could wish for, Lee Remick is his mum, and an important US Ambassador 'dad' in the form of Gregory Peck. Except the Peckmeister isn’t his dad at all. No. Damien’s real father has a diabolic army of disciples on Earth, guiding him through his youth and ensuring a clear path to his evil destiny – to rule the world. It’s fair to say that young Harvey Stephens really didn’t have to make much effort as the antichrist, once they'd dyed and straightened his blond hair but there’s no denying this rock solid casting choice. He doesn’t like those daggers much.
Went on to appear in: something made for TV called Ganguin the Savage, and that’s it.
5 .Village of the Damned (1960) The Children - (Martin Stephens, Sarah Long, Thomas Heathcote, Charlotte Mitchell et al)
This can't have been a walk in the park for the new parents of Midwich - a cluster of unexplained pregnancies followed by the births and subsequent high-speed, super-human development of physical growth and mental abilities in their human-vessel alien spawn. They look alike, think alike and read the minds of the unfortunate inhabitants of the picturesque English village, while their ultimate goal is to disperse, multiply and rule. Thank God then for Gordon Zellaby - aristocratic intellectual, expert in all things, "father" to the group's leader and a great believer in the power of… "A brick wall!" He’s a modern martyr. But not that modern.
Went on to appear in: The Innocents, The Witches.
4 .The People Under the Stairs (1991) Fool - (Brandon Adams)
This pint-sized hero takes proactive measures when cruel landlords threaten unfair eviction for the people of his housing scheme. He, along with Marcellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction, breaks into the nasty landlords’ lair whereupon they uncover a lot more than they expected to. Prepare to be astounded as young Fool outwits and ultimately defeats the completely and utterly mental Everitt McGill and his sister/wife/both Wendy Robie in their vastly reconstructed playpen of pain and suffering. Fool is a decent kid who knows right from wrong, but don’t get on the wrong side of him or he’ll drop a brick on your face. Ouch.
Went on to appear in: Ghost in the Machine, The Mighty Ducks, and its groundbreaking sequel, D2: The Mighty Ducks.
3 .The Deadly Spawn (1983) Charles - (Charles George Hildebrandt)
Charles rocks. This little blighter's sheer showmanship and courage is what prompted someone at Zombie Club to say, "Hey, let's do a top Ten Kids in Horror!" and there was never any question of our brave, bright young hero getting on the list. A true fan of horror and monsters, Charles acts with more intelligence than most adults in horror film situations. He’s the kind of kid who could survive a zombie apocalypse – he’s seen the movies, knows the score, and deals with the situation at hand. He's also one of the best kid actors you've ever seen in a shoestring-budget movie. I love this movie, especially the spawn attack on the old ladies' vegetarian luncheon.
Went on to appear in: nothing. Shame
2 .The Shining (1980) The O’Grady Twins - (Lisa & Louise Burns)
If you ask me, Charles Grady got so pissed off with his twin daughters' habit of walking around and saying scary stuff in unison that he hacked them up into little pieces. Now their spirits appear to be trapped in lushly carpeted 5-star accommodation where (highly) frustrated novelist Jack Torrance is trying out a new repetitive style of prose in an effort to forget how ugly his wife is. The twins on the other hand just want young Danny T to play with them as they're somewhat bored of each other's company. All together now, "Come and play with us, Danny." Dammit, Kubrick should have made more horror films.
Went on to appear in: my nightmares.
1 .The Exorcist (1973) Regan - (Linda Blair)
Ok, so the Power of Christ may have compelled me to give Regan the number one spot, but that doesn't mean she doesn't deserve it. Poor Regan's dream of owning a horse is temporarily postponed due to the inconvenient and downright rude arrival of the Spirit of Pazuzu – a rather nasty, ancient demon. Sweet, cherubic Regan then gets rather ill, sounds like a 100-a-day smoker, and shouts obscenities in the general direction of the priesthood, baffled doctors and her poor mum, played by the magnificent Ellyn Burstyn. The fact that young Blair went through this ordeal and did such an incredible job of it at her tender age is pretty formidable stuff indeed. Where DID you learn language like that, young lady?
Went on to appear in: quite a lot. Most famously include Airport ’75, Exorcist 2: The Heretic, Chained Heat, Red Heat, Scream.
6th Jun 05 Imagine if you will, being middle aged, bloated, in a boring, thankless job and trapped in a loveless marriage. And that’s the way it’s going to continue until you’re 6 feet under. You get late night phone calls from an old friend.