Tuesday, June 06, 2006

666 -- The Omen isn't the only devil-child movie around

When it comes to some of Hollywood’s scariest screen tykes, “the devil made me do it” isn’t just a funny expression.

It’s the truth: From the remake of “The Omen” all the way back to “The Bad Seed” (and probably beyond), devilish children have long frightened audiences. Evil children are such a staple of horror flicks that they’ve created their own sub-genre.

Here are a few notable examples of the trend:

“The Bad Seed” (1956) – Little Christine (Nancy Kelly) is America’s most adorable daughter until she turns bad, in Mervyn LeRoy’s then-shocking adaptation of the stage play of the same name. Hey, who’s causing those freak fatal accidents, anyway? “The Bad Seed” was remade for TV in 1985, and it returns to the big screen next year.

“Village of the Damned” (1960) – Children born at the same time in a small English village reveal an uncanny ability to orchestrate evil. Campy but boasting impressive b/w cinematography, this film and 1963’s “Children of the Damned” (both based on novels by John Wyndham) have gained fervent cult followings. John Carpenter remade “Village of the Damned” in 1995 (with Christopher Reeve and Kirstie Alley).

“Rosemary’s Baby” (1963) – The most frightening, by far, of the devil-child movies, this Roman Polanski classic is technically about a woman (Mia Farrow, the evil nanny in the new “Omen” ) impregnated by Lucifer after she’s drawn into a Satanic cult. Leave the lights on.

“The Omen” (1976) – Richard Donner, later to direct “Superman” and its sequel, brought the genre into the ‘70s with a good cast (Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as the unfortunate parents) and a fairly chilling tale. It was such a success that it was followed by several big-screen and television sequels and remakes.

“Children of the Corn” (1984) – Based on a Stephen King short story, this one centers on a charismatic kid preacher who conspires the kiddies to murder everyone over the age of 19 in a Nebraska farming community. It was followed by far too many sequels, including 2001’s “Children of the Corn: Revelation,” the seventh installment.

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