Monster of the Day #54

Creepy kids are kind of a horror movie staple, and indeed, we’ve already featured one in Monster of the Day.  This example still holds up, though.  I remember how disappointed I was when I saw John Carpenter’s remake (a mere six months after the release of the first film of his, In the Mouth of Madness, that I have loved in a long time).  I can’t ever remember seeing a more useless film.  The attempts to broaden the story didn’t work.  And it made me realize how many mind-control movies there had been since the original came out.  Lastly, kids were expected to be polite and more, well, aware of their place back in the day, which made the children here really spooky.  Nowadays you expect kids to act out…hell, you see it every day out in public…so the kids acting like monsters in the remake didn’t offer the same frisson.

  • BeckoningChasm

    A really fine film. Martin Stephens was excellent as he usually was.

    So, what do you think of the eyes at the end of the film? Bill Warren thought that was a terrible idea.

  • Not-So-Great Cthulhu

    A wonderfully creepy movie. Now if only the book was still in print…

  • Killer kids rarely work for me – I think because Hollywood almost always wusses out on them. For instance, look what they did in the 80s Twilight Zone movie to the evil psychic kid. That said, there are a few movies which follow through on the threat of the evil kid. “Who Can Kill a Child” from Italy is such an example, as well as the menacing ghost from “Kill Baby Kill”. But generally once you see a kid you know (a) he’s safe from harm and (b) the movie won’t let him do anything too terrible.

  • BeckoningChasm

    Of course, Martin Stephens starred in another “evil kid” movie – The Innocents, based on The Turn of the Screw. That would be another where they let the kids be evil.

  • The Rev. D.D.

    Don’t forget Pet Sematary, which has one of the creepiest little kids I’ve ever seen. No punches with that one–hit by a semi, brought back as a murderous monster, and evil to the end.

    As for the Monster of the Day, a great movie, and one of the few instances of evil kids done right. Their perfectly coordinated movements are one of my favorite parts–like they’re all part of one giant collective.

  • Sandy — Have you ever seen The Children? Because believe me, those rules go out the door fast.

  • BeckoningChasm

    Ken – yes, but in the case of The Children, the “make a good movie, or at least be entertaining” rules got thrown out at the same time.

  • John Nowak

    Wait, this wasn’t a documentary?

  • Rock Baker

    I think this film is one of those that get even more milage from the British ‘underplay everything and take it seriously so it comes off creepy instead of exploitive’ mode of production. It may be simply because it was underplayed that ‘Damned’ remains a classic, while the subgenre of killer child movies from the 70s go mostly unseen (and often completely forgotten). The sequel didn’t measure up either (but it seems like it did have its moments). This is just a touchy subject, anyway. When done right, it can be very creepy. When done wrong, it just comes off as trashy.

  • fish eye no miko

    @ Sandy re: evil kid movies wussing out: There’s a mid-70’s evil kid movie called The Other (not to be confused with the Nicole Kidman ghost movie The Others“), which has its evil kids do something just… horrific.

    And The Good Son… I’m pretty sure he kills his little sister (though that might have happened before the film started, which is a bit different), and they certainly don’t wuss out on HIS fate.

  • Rock Baker

    See also the king of all evil child movies; The Bad Seed (1956) based on the well known story of a murderous little girl.

  • John Nowak

    The Other is a personal favorite — a wonderful little horror film that’s so low-key and mild that I suspect a lot of people wouldn’t consider it horror.

    Great book, too.