“IN THEIR WORLD, ADULTS ARE NOT ALLOWED… TO LIVE.”
So runs the chilling tagline for the 1984 cult classic horror Children of the Corn, based on the short story by horror maestro Stephen King. Set in an agricultural town in Nebraska, the film tells the story of 12-year-old Isaac, a real little charmer who indoctrinates the local children into a religious cult that slaughters anyone over 18! The film, which cost under $1million to make, was a smash hit and spawned a horror franchise.
To celebrate the release of a lavish Arrow Limited Edition box set of the trilogy (Order here!), including the original film in Ultra High Definition, here’s a round-up of some other horror films featuring problematic pint-sizers which you won’t want to turn your back on for a moment…
Village of the Damned (1960)
Based on the famous sci-fi novel by John Wyndham, The Midwich Cuckoos, this is the mother of all killer kids films, featuring a group of blonde-haired, highly intelligent little-uns whose eyes glow mysteriously, who were all born on the same day after a mysterious incident in the village some months earlier. Are they aliens? – they’re certainly not very friendly.
Bloody Birthday (1981)
Any parent will tell you, kids’ birthday parties can be murder. Except in this instance such a party really is. Seemingly inspired by The Midwich Cuckoos, here three kids born during an eclipse go on a killing spree on their birthdays ten years later. Hell of a mess to clean up afterwards.
The Bad Seed (1956)
Based on the superb book by William March, Mervyn LeRoy’s black and white classic is a timeless tale of tyke terror. Rhoda (played by Patty McCormack), seems like such a sweet kid, with her precocious ways and her cute pigtails. But you don’t want to get on the wrong side of her, as Leroy the janitor finds out, the hard way.
Who Can Kill a Child? (1978)
A young couple on holiday find themselves on what appears to be a rather quaint picturesque Spanish island in this disturbing and highly-effective Euro-thriller. The island seems to be deserted of grown-ups – there are only children lurking around. Looking for an adult, the husband hears a group of kids involved in what seems to be fun and games. When he sees what’s really happening, well, let’s just say he might want a refund from his travel agent.
Devil Times Five (1974)
A truly thrilling American horror gem, with quite a cult following that includes Quentin Tarantino as a fan, this really is a peculiar and brilliant one-off featuring a group of deranged kids killing off adults staying at a snowy lodge in the mountains. This film’s got everything, except a happy ending…
The Child (1977)
An 11-year-old-girl, Rosalie, likes to hang around in the nearby cemetery in this schlock horror favourite, where she has befriended a load of zombies to do her bidding. That bidding involves taking revenge on the people who she deems responsible for her mother’s death. Some kids eh!
The Children (1980)
“It’s time you believed in a new kind of horror… the horror of THE CHILDREN”. Thus intones the creepy voiceover on the trailer for nasty slice of exploitation excellence, in which a leak at a nuclear power plant infects a busload of kids, turning them into a pack of murderous zombies. The giveaway that a child has been infected – their fingernails turn black, they start making strange noises, and they want to kill you.
Strange Behaviour (1981)
This nifty little shocker is just your everyday story of a mad psychologist paying kids to take part in clinical trials that happen to turn them into psychopathic killers. Co-written by Bill Condon, who would go on to win an Oscar for his script for 1999’s Gods and Monsters, the film features a showdown between a pump-action-toting dad and his deranged son. Which goes to show, if your kids say they can earn a hundred bucks after school, be afraid, be very afraid.
Children of the Corn Trilogy (1984-1995)
The Children of the Corn trilogy is what might be described as a bumper crop of wicked kids… in the cult classic original, a young couple (Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton) find themselves stranded in the small town of Gatlin, Nebraska where they meet a religious cult of children led by the mysterious Isaac and the unhinged Malachi and learn the blood-curdling secrets of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”. Meanwhile in Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice, the well meaning locals of nearby Hemingford adopt the children who survived the original terror… well, you reap what you sow! In Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest two orphaned boys from Gatlin are taken into foster care in Chicago. Big mistake – “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” begins to walk again…