The Killer Kid sub-genre is a favorite amongst many horror fans. There is something especially amusing about a pint-sized sociopath knocking off victims twice their size. One of the reasons we like the genre may be that we tend to get a slightly better look in to the psyche of killer children than we do in horror films with full grown behemoths like Jason Voorhees or Leatherface who are beyond reach for making much rhyme or reason of their behavior.
Today, we are taking a walk down memory lane and revisiting ten of the most shocking on-screen deaths at the hands of killer children. Not all of our selections are shocking because of blood and gore. Some of our choices are shocking because they broke new ground for the time the film was released, or because of the filmmaker’s willingness to explore the taboo around portraying an individual not yet old enough to vote as a knife-wielding psychopath. Below, you will find an eclectic blend of ten shocking deaths at the hands of killer children.
Since this piece discusses death scenes, there may be mild spoilers, so you better read carefully. Okay?
The Bad Seed: Rhoda Kills Claude Daigle
Rhoda killing Claude in The Bad Seed didn’t make the list because the film gives us a violent and close up look at the act that Rhoda commits, but because Rhoda is like the grandmother to all of the killer kids who came after her pivotal role in the 1956 film. This film broached very taboo subject matter for its time: it profiled a girl who was willing to kill her classmate over a penmanship medal. The Bad Seed proudly paved the way for the other films on our list. Without The Bad Seed there wouldn’t have been subsequent films like It’s Alive or Bloody Birthday. We, as horror fans, owe a certain gratitude to this film for being one of the first of its kind.
Damien, Omen II: Damien Kills His Aunt Marion
Damien picks up where he left off in the second film by doing what Damien does best. Aunt Marian probably had it coming. She really got on his nerves by suspecting him of being evil and wearing too much lavender perfume. When you anger evil incarnate, you run the risk of being eliminated. So, true to form, Damien transforms into a crow and gives the poor old woman a heart attack. This scene was disturbing not for its excessive display of gore-there isn’t much to speak of-but for the way that Damien is so calculating about taking the life of a member of his family to promote his own devilish agenda.
Bloody Birthday: Debbie Kills Her Sister
This scene is outrageous and shocking for a variety of reasons; not the least of which being, Debbie calculatingly shoots an arrow through her older sister’s eye with no remorse. Debbie later comments, “She had it coming.” All three of the killer kids in this low-budget slasher film were effective at playing the part of sociopath, but of the three, it was Elizabeth Hoy’s turn as Debbie that really stood out as the most brutal and unflinching. The film didn’t have a big enough budget to deliver a lot of blood or completely realistic looking gore, but it made up for it with creepy performance from its trifecta of juvenile delinquents and a hefty helping of bare boobies, for god measure.
It's Alive: The Hospital Scene
“What’s wrong with my baby?” The notorious hospital scene from It’s Alive was terribly shocking for its time and even more shocking because it happened in a PG-rated film. The blood trail that the Davis baby leaves behind is not a polite one. The sequence where the blood hungry baby massacres the delivery room staff and strikes out on a killing spree is more than a little outrageous; suffice to say, this child was not pleased about being brought in to the world. An interesting side note: Academy Award winning makeup artist Rick Baker created the makeup magic behind the Davis baby as well as “played” the role of the infant.
Orphan: Esther Kills Her Adoptive Father
Esther is technically not a child, but we included her on the list, because she looked, like, acted like, and was impersonating a child when shit got real. Seeing Esther get all tarted up, come on to her adoptive father and then kill him in cold blood caught viewers squarely off guard. Making things even more uncomfortable, we learn that Esther’s adoptive sister is looking on as Esther brutally stabs their father to death.
Home Movie: Jack and Emily Kill Their Parents
Jack and Emily are little monsters. Their unusual behavior starts small; they kill a family pet, but it soon becomes much more severe. Though the viewer realizes, in the back of their mind, that Emily and Jack’s parents probably aren’t long for this world but that doesn’t make their demise any less shocking. Home Movie is particularly surprising because Jack and Emily’s parents are a Pastor and a Psychologist. As a society, we tend to think that children who come from that background would not be capable of plotting their parents' demise. The film poses some interesting questions about nature versus nurture and provides an unflinching look at a couple of crazed kids.
Sinister: Ellison’s Daughter Does Him In
Sinister is another example of Blumhouse Productions' ability to make an excellent film on a miniscule budget. The film’s ending was a conclusion that maybe I should have seen coming, but I was so wrapped up in the movie that I wasn’t even looking for it. Not only is the whole ending sequence creepy as hell, the score is insanely unnerving. It’s the kind of music that makes you want to jump out of your seat. Seeing Ethan Hawke’s creepy child wielding an axe and making the ‘shh’ face after committing murder gave me the super creeps.
Halloween: Young Michael Meyers Kills His Sexually Generous Older Sister
The original Halloween really surprised me the first time I saw it. We don’t get a lot of back-story about what makes young Michael tick and then, boom: Michael is killing his older sister. For me, that was where the remake went wrong. The remake delved too much in to young Michael’s back-story. But, the original gave us just the right amount of insight in to Michael’s twisted mind. Michael is unflinching in his urge to kill. The POV camerawork makes the death even more eerie as Michael takes the audience along with him for his first kill.
Pet Sematary: Gage Kills Jud
We knew that Gage wasn’t going to be the same when he came back from the burial ground, but we didn’t necessarily expect him to turn in to a one child homicide machine, either. Miko Hughes was extremely creepy as Gage and showed surprising range for an actor barely old enough to speak. He was exceptionally creepy when he killed his family’s next-door neighbor. Gage saw fit to slash Jud’s mouth open and then feast upon his neck, while making really weird sucking noises.
The Children: The Sled Scene
The sled scene in The Children is very disturbing. Children scare me, under normal circumstances, but when they are portrayed as clever little sociopaths who can effectively pretend to be innocent and grieving over the loss of their father seconds after they have caused his untimely death, I start to get a stress headache. The gore is absolutely brutal: you see a piece of the victim’s head peel back and gush blood. This scene goes all out. It brings the gore and relentless, bloodthirsty youngsters as well.
We would like to extend honorable mention to the children who kill Steve in Eden Lake (We left them off as we were focused more on children under 14 for this piece).
Did we represent all or most of your favorite moments of killer kid carnage? Please let us know in the comments below.