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10 Best Creepy Kid Movies of All Time

Mama opens on Jan. 18, and with it we’re reminded once again why we don’t want to have children. But this debut feature from director Andres Muschietti, based on his own 2008 short film, and executive produced by Guillermo del Toro himself, isn’t the first and won’t be the last to tell us children are bad ideas. Life’d will now examine more than 50 years of terrifying little turds with the 10 Best Creepy Kid Movies of All Time.   

10. Village of the Damned (1960)
village of the damned

Village of the Damned was followed by Children of the Damned (1964) and a John Carpenter-directed remake (1995) starring Christopher Reeve and Mark Hamill that was just okay. The original, however, is a remarkable film in the sense that it had the audacity to depict children as killers, and also attack the Christian concept of a virgin giving birth – here it’s depicted as evil – something you just didn’t do 50+ years ago. A contemporary with Psycho, it has some pretty interesting set-pieces and a cool effect (for the time) with the creepy kid eyes and the fact all of them look like they could be brothers and sisters.

9. Wake Wood (2011)

wake wood

The revamped Hammer Studios didn’t knock one out of the park for originality with Wake Wood, but they did make a creepy, atmospheric throwback with enough gore and Pet Sematary to keep us adequately chilled. The plot centers on a husband and wife (Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle) mourning the death of their daughter Alice (Ella Connolly) in a vicious dog attack. With their move to Wake Wood, the couple receives an opportunity to bring their daughter back from the dead for three days—a flawed plan in that once dead things get a taste for living again, they’re not keen on going back. Mayhem ensues.

8. The Bad Seed (1956)
the bad seed

The original bad kid movie! Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) appears to be an adorable 8-year old to her doting father, but Mom (Nancy Kelly) isn’t convinced. Bad things happen to other children whenever little Rhoda is around, and the coincidence leads the girl’s own mother to believe her daughter is a vicious killer. A creepy, atmospheric black-and-white chiller in every sense of the word, right up until the idiotic deux ex machina finale and the Leave It to Beaver closing credit sequence. (NOTE: The end credits do somewhat devalue the shock of the movie, but this was before Psycho and Village of the Damned, so we can kind of see why they tacked it on there.) Still, McCormack, who was 11 at the time, gives a jaw-dropping performance that has defined her still-active career for more than 62 years while setting the standard for murderous brats.

7. Death Dreams (1991)
death dreams

What did Christopher Reeve have against kids? In the ’95 remake of Village of the Damned, he took on a whole class full of telepathic nut jobs, and in 1991’s made-for-cable chiller Death Dreams, he may or may not have murdered his own stepdaughter. Like other creepy kid movies on this list – Wake Wood, Pet Sematary, etc. – the story focuses on a woman, whose young daughter dies tragically. With the aid of a psychiatrist, Crista (Marg Helgenberger) makes contact with her daughter and finds out that the drowning may not have been as cut-and-dry as it appeared. Director Martin Donovan relies mainly on suspense to bring the chills and also gets a lot of help from Reeve and Helgenberger. But it’s dead Jennie (Taylor Fry) that really gives us the willies. Hunt this one down if you can.

6. Pet Sematary (1989)
pet sematary

Not much that needs to be said here. By now, all of you have seen it (and probably the inferior 1992 sequel). There is also allegedly a remake planned for 2013. But we’re pretty certain it’ll be hard to replace little Gage (Miko Hughes). To this day, I refuse to let a little rugrat anywhere near my Achilles tendon.

5. The Haunting of Julia (1977)
The Haunting of Julia

Mia Farrow starred in the film many of you will excommunicate me for not including on this list, Rosemary’s Baby—(sorry, it’s good, but I only had 10 to work with). However, it’s this film that makes our hairs stand on-end. Julia (Farrow) has left her overbearing husband (Keir Dullea) following the tragic death of their daughter. She buys a new house and is quickly haunted by a presence that she believes to be her child. Well, without giving too much away, it’s a child, all right, but that’s where the similarities end. A haunting bed-wetter of a film.

4. Orphan (2009)
The Orphan

Little Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) has a horrible secret, and no, it has nothing to do with the fact that she kills people and is one of the most manipulative little wretches you’ll ever meet. Orphan is essentially the film The Bad Seed could have been had it not been weighted down by the sensitivity of the day. And that ending…oh, that ending!

3. Let the Right One In / Let Me In (2008 / 2010)
let me in 

Lina Leandersson played Eli in the 2008 version while Chloe Grace Moretz took on her equivalent in 2010’s Let Me In. The original is a masterpiece, and the remake is comparable. And while the two “little girls” are the protagonists, they have some very unsettling moments, particularly when you get them around swimming pools or urge them to enter your home without a formal invitation.

2. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist  

The first image that comes to most of you upon hearing the words “creepy kid” is probably Linda Blair levitating and inventing new curse words for the English language in this classic shocker. The Exorcist remains an unnerving tale of demonic possession, and what makes it especially frightening is the helplessness of the mother (Ellen Burstyn). The movie’s unsettling message is what is responsible for its lasting impact in our opinion. And that message is, you can’t protect your children from evil or becoming evil; and as hard as you try to understand them, there will always be a dark side you cannot control.

1. The Shining (1980)
The Shining

Jack Nicholson may have represented the Overlook’s menacing evil in Stanley Kubrick’s film version of the Stephen King novel, but admit it. To this day, when you hide your eyes and freak out, it’s the little girls in the hallway intercut with the disturbing flashes of horror that make The Shining stand out. As a kid, I honestly thought my bowels would loosen if I saw those creepy little girls standing there when Danny (Danny Lloyd) rode around the corridors on his tricycle. The twins (Lisa and Louise Burns) are now in their forties. Lisa attained a degree in literature and language while Louise now works as a microbiologist, according to VH1’s “Where are they Now?”. Neither made another film after The Shining, presumably to make amends for terrorizing a whole generation of kids like me.

Those are our picks. Let’s hear yours. Sound off in the comments below!

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  • kevincsullivan

    I’d also suggest THE GOOD SON and WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, but that’s still a really good list.

  • Aric

    The Good Son would have made it with a creepier kid. Macaulay Culkin isn’t that scary. But it’s a well-made flick with a humdinger ending, no doubt! Still need to check out We Need to Talk about Kevin!

    • tanya w

      not as scary but loved the movie! the ONLY movie I liked Macaulay Culkin in

  • http://www.facebook.com/triphoppenskip Sam Burwell

    You forgot Honey Boo Boo.

    • pac 3

      Not funny.

      • Dingus Mungus

        Based on the thumbs up on his comment versus yours, it’s funny. Honey Boo Boo is vile.

    • http://www.facebook.com/IKEOW James Owens

      she was sitting on you’re face.

      • http://www.facebook.com/BlessedDead Josh Moats

        your face

    • JDL

      The scariest damn person i have ever seen.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U522OA34GXFHC4OOUB3RVSEZXQ Lois

      LMAO!

  • Duchess47379

    In agreement with the Good Son too….

  • lshontale

    Case 39 was really something. Even my husband was scared of that little girl, and he usually doesn’t scare too easily.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Sugamomma27 Nicole Seabrook

      I was hoping it made the list. I just watched Case 39, two nights ago.

  • http://www.freebieiphone.com/ Free Iphone Now!

    Saw “Mama” yesterday.
    It is instantly in the top 10. Probably top two or three.

  • Chris Jones

    Great list, but…where’s The Omen?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Sugamomma27 Nicole Seabrook

      I agree. Damien was the son of the devil, it doesn’t get much creepier than that!

  • Firespider

    We Need to Talk About Kevin. I watched this movie the day before the shootings in Newtown. OMG!

  • sowhat143

    Children of the Corn was pretty creepy….

    • tanya w

      i just knew that would have been in the top 1o…. it traumatized me. i am almost forty and still get freaked out at night anywhere near a cornfield

  • OneMoreToAdd

    Samara from The Ring: Watching t.v. has never been the same since her “climb”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MPCPRIE2XHL7PTWELQM27CIWPI EZ2BMe

    Case 39 creeped me out!! I couldn’t sleep for a week after watching that. Talk about a psychological thriller!!!!!

  • Rob Billeaud

    OK, I like the creepy little girls in The Shining. One thing I never understood about Pet Semetary though. When the kid is lying in bed and his buddy who WAS dead comes and scratches at his window, why oh why did he let him in? I mean you are on the second floor and people don’t just float up unless something is seriously wrong. Personally, if that happened to me, I’m pulling the covers over my head and screaming my lungs out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/laurie.denofrioalmodovar Laurie Jean DeNofrio-Almodovar

      that wasn’t The Shinning, it was Salem’s Lot!

      • mynameisme

        he didnt say it was the shining… if youd read all of his statement he said PET SEMETARY….

  • Doug Avila

    I would switch The Exorcist with the Shinning at no. 1 and 2. But both are great horror movies. I would also at the Ring in the mix.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sugamomma27 Nicole Seabrook

    Besides Omen and Case 39, what about Carrie! I think she was a real spook, although her mother was just as creepy and crazy as hell!

    • Cheyenne H

      Case 39 was a freaky movie

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sugamomma27 Nicole Seabrook

    Poltergeist could’ve made the list, too. Carol Ann scared the hell out of me when I was little. I hated to see snowy screens on the television way before White Noise, and White Noise was boring and stupid, not scary at all!

  • clemdane

    Definitely biased towards recent history like most film/book reviews, but a few made sense. As pointed out elsewhere, The Omen should be #1. I would add Audrey Rose (1977) and The Innocents (1961.) Another great one is The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1976) where this boy who likes to experiment on killing cats and then trying to bring them back to life with electricity becomes jealous of the sea captain his mother is dating…

    • chicabell

      the innocents… saw that as a kid (not the greatest idea). still think that movie warped me (i love horror). still creeps me out to watch it.

  • quent375

    Sinister was probably the most disturbing movie I have ever seen …talk about creepy kids

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MP3GY7CWZ756MYSL4KANYVZLGE luni

    Chucky didn’t make the list?

  • Ringthane

    There was some movie I saw around 1980 that was about a kid (apparently a demon) who gets adopted by a family and then people around them start getting killed. All I really remember about it was the ending, where the kid has disappeared and the mom (who has always protected him) sees him with another family. Does anybody have an idea what this movie was?

    • http://www.facebook.com/dori.cart Dori Cart

      The Godsend.

    • kelly79

      i think your talking about a movie called “mikey”

      • Ringthane

        Mikey has the same premise, but it’s from 1992 and isn’t the movie I’m thinking of. It was definitely from around 1980, and I think it’s The Godsend.

  • http://www.facebook.com/harry.berry.33 Harry Berry

    They forgot a good one called The Good Son

  • Jim

    I’m pretty sure none of these are “kid movies.” These are just creepy kids in creepy movies…

  • Anton Dubinski

    “Come play with us, Danny.”

  • sanbaba

    I don’t know about “10 best” or not, but the kids in “Home Movie” with Adrian Pasdar were pretty creepy sometimes.

  • Thrillmetothemarrow

    2 movies i’ve never heard of and no OMEN. Not to mention The SHINING wasn’t a movie about children. If all it takes is an appearence then I would rate ROSEMARY’S BABY as the creepiest kid ever. Remember the off-kilter horns playing. Quite disrurbing for the period.

    Can anybody get paid to have an opinion? Appears so.

    • magnum

      And what about the baby at the end of Angel Heart. That was a shocker.

    • mynameisme

      the article wasnt about movies about children but of movies that had children in them….
      is comprehension really that hard for you?
      apparently it is

  • Meena

    I laughed so hard at the ending of the Bad Seed.

  • Diane M

    At the time, I thought Friday the 13th (part 1) was a pretty creepy movie, as well as Night of the living dead (original verion).

  • MigThor

    I agree with most of these, except as said by someone else, I’d put Exorcist at a close #1 over The Shining. Also, Omen should be high on the list.

    • mynameisme

      a close #1 is #2 genius lol

  • gumbeedog

    I saw the original “Bad Seed” for the 1st time on TCM a few weeks ago. What an excellent movie! Had to buy it for my collection.

  • Bulldozer

    The Shining sucked…Not sure why every fawns over this movie…

  • tanya w

    i was creeped out by sleep away camp when i was little. maybe not top 10 material but it messed me up…smh

  • Justice

    Don’t forget these creepy TWINS! :0

    http://vimeo.com/47070937

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1426778911 Michelle Wentling

    The Changeling! Salem’s Lot!

  • pickaname

    I am missing ‘The Innocents (1961)’ with Martin Stephens, who also played the main role in the “Village Of The Damned’ (1960).

  • http://twitter.com/codymaverickas codymavericka

    Children of the Corn?????? I think you missed one

  • Tereesa

    what about damien from omen

  • UFCIsSux

    Admittedly not Top Ten material, but the creepiest kid I’ve seen in a movie in a while was the little girl playing with her letter bracelet aboard the luxury liner in “Ghost Ship”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/coring27 Czarina Azul

    They forget to add wicked with Julia Stiles…

  • http://www.facebook.com/BlessedDead Josh Moats

    Pet Semetary’s Gage was much creepier then the children from the Shining(they had a whopping 8 minutes total in it) and Damien from The Omen should be 2 and while I liked Village of the Damned both versions there was nothing “Creepy” about the children

  • Stephanie

    oh my lord I HATE PET SEMANTARY.
    That movie is just one bad movie for me, even as an adult.

    • mynameisme

      then “gage” did his job… and stephen king did too lol

  • Brady

    Ummmmm…where is “The Other” on this list?

  • Dago T

    Jack Nicholson may have represented the Overlook’s menacing evil in Stanley Kubrick’s film version of the Stephen King novel, but admit it. To this day, when you hide your eyes and freak out, it’s the little girls in the hallway intercut with the disturbing flashes of horror that make The Shining stand out.

    Is that why you show a picture of Jack and not the little girls?

    • mynameisme

      why post a picture of the twins twice? that just doesnt make any sense… the twins were in the photo at the beginning. to post it again would be stupid… like you

  • general_guy_01

    the good son with mcauly culkin was actually really good too. yeah i said it.

  • Carol123

    The movie “The Orphan” is soooo creepy! It freaks me out just to look at the cover of the DVD case ! Wicked ending.

  • Graham Hall

    Mary Poppins. Possessed freaked out furniture,suger spoon pushing, shit got real

  • Willow
  • Kenneth James Abbott

    The Good Son.

  • It’s Just My Opinion

    What about the “Wrong Turn” movies? These kids were not only scary they were fuugly!! I also liked the “Final Destination” movies too, they kept me on the edge of my seat. My all time favorite is “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte”, with Bette Davis.