Scariest Children in Horror Movies

You don’t have to be a childless millennial at Disney World to be afraid of kids. There’s a whole time-honored sub-genre of horror that plays upon pedophobia, the fear of children. It’s yielded ghost girls aplenty and more than one son of Satan.

Writer-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala ventured into pedophobic territory with their 2014 Austrian film, Goodnight Mommy. It’s been a long road to the release of their new feature, The Lodge, which premiered at Sundance last year and earned some rave reviews, only to see its release date pushed back until after this year’s festival. Now, the wait is finally over and The Lodge is almost here. It hits theaters on Friday and this film has some elements that will poke at the child-fearing part of the brain.

In honor of that, we’re diving back through the last 60 years of film history, taking a reverse-chronological look at the 10 scariest movie children. Of course, there are any number of horror films where precocious youngsters say or do things that contribute to the overall creepy atmosphere. (“I see dead people,” “They’re heeere,” etc.) However, with this list, we’ll be focusing mainly on the kids who are straight-up evil or possessed and whose desire to harm others plays an integral role in the plot. You’re about to wade into a playroom where the tykes are all finger-painting with the blood of adults.

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The Shining Mountain Dew Super Bowl Commercial

This weekend brings us Super Bowl LIV, and with it will be a bunch of star-studded new commercials pushing all the biggest brands in front of one of the largest television viewing audiences of the year. But in the internet age, it’s more important to go viral before the Big Game, and some of this year’s biggest commercials are already online. One of them will be of particular interest to fans of Mountain Dew, Bryan Cranston and Stanley Kubrick.

Mountain Dew has just launched their new Mountain Dew Zero Sugar (or MTN DEW Zero Sugar), joining the ever-growing roster of carbonated drinks swapping out sugar for artificial sweeteners. And to give the new soft drink a proper launch, they recruited Bryan Cranston to recreate scenes from The Shining. So instead of Jack Torrance being a murderous psychopath, he just wants his wife to try some of this Mountain Dew Zero Sugar like any sane person would. Read More »

doctor sleep sequel

Doctor Sleep was expected to be a big hit for Warner Bros., and the studio had such high hopes that they were already planning a sequel. But as the saying goes, life comes at you fast, and while The Shining follow-up garnered positive reviews, the box office returns have been a major disappointment. So what happens now? We don’t know. But we do have some idea of what kind of sequel director Mike Flanagan was planning.

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Doctor Sleep Jack Torrance Scene

The most important scene in Doctor Sleep isn’t in the trailers. You won’t find a glimpse of it in the marketing. And a recognizable actor, who appears exclusively in this scene, has been left out of just about every cast list. It’s all by design, of course. Because the most important scene in Doctor Sleep is a big swing from writer/director Mike Flanagan, one that he knew would prove controversial with horror fans. Somehow, it works. Heck, it’s even the scene that convinced author Stephen King to give the movie his blessing.

I was able to speak with Flanagan and his longtime producer Trevor Macy about the scene, their conversations with King, the casting of that actor, and more. There are major spoilers for Doctor Sleep from this point on.

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Original The Shining Reviews

(Welcome to The Film Historiography, a series that explores the initial reactions to important, iconic, and memorable films.)

“Writing about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which is now playing at the Capitol Theater, is a lot like writing about God or politics. Everybody’s doing it.” – Vivi Mannuzza, The Berkshire Eagle

In the late 1970s, Stanley Kubrick set out to make the “ultimate horror film.” Bringing together his mastery of cinema as an artform – and working from a much-beloved Stephen King novel – Kubrick labored to bring to the screen The Shining, the now-iconic horror film about isolation, domestic violence, and the bad places in the world that call to broken people. Fans flocked to see the film, which diverged early and often from King’s novel; disappointed by the Kubrick’s creative liberties with the novel, The Shining labored as an arthouse curio for years before finally earning its place atop the modern horror canon.

As far as historiographies goes, it’s mostly true. Kubrick may indeed have set out to create the “ultimate horror film” – though that phrase seems more directly attributable to a May 1980 Newsweek article hyping the film than any direct quote from Kubrick himself – but he did so at a time when both horror and Stephen King were capturing the imagination of mainstream audiences everywhere. Hollywood was still adjusting to a new wave of horror films like Halloween (1978), The Amityville Horror (1979), and Alien (1979), and Kubrick’s meticulous shot construction and melodramatic character work seemed at odds with the naturalistic direction of the genre.

These were the threads that regional film critics were running with when The Shining hit theaters in May 1980. While the overarching narrative remains the same – it was underappreciated, it was misunderstood – the reasons for this are rooted in these cultural touchpoints of the era. As we look forward to Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep, a sequel to both Kubrick and King’s versions of The Shining, it’s worth looking back at the critics and the conversations that helped shape the film’s legacy for the next 30 years.  

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hbo max classic movies

Most of the biggest streaming platforms are frequently — and rightly — criticized for rarely featuring films that were made before the 1980s. The race for new original content has drowned out the century of classic movies that have built up cinema to what it is today. But WarnerMedia’s forthcoming service HBO Max could, at least partially, remedy that with its curated collection of classic movies.

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The Shining Honest Trailer

This weekend brings early screenings of Doctor Sleep, at least for Fandango VIP members. But for the rest of us, we’ll have to wait another week before reuniting with Danny Torrance nearly 40 years after he was traumatized at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. The good news is you can pass at least some of the time with The Shining Honest Trailer, which reminds you of all the different possible metaphors this movie may contain while also pointing out that there are about three kinds of shots you see over and over. Read More »

New On Blu-ray The Shining 4K

In an odd twist of fate, coincidence, or maybe just because it’s Halloween season, every title in this week’s Blu-ray round-up is a horror movie. So if you’re not a horror fan, uh…see you next time! For everyone else, these are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week.

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doctor sleep early screenings

If you just can’t wait to see Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, and also happen to be a Fandango VIP member, I have some good news. Mike Flanagan‘s Stephen King adaptation will screen nine days earlier than the official release date for members of Fandango VIP. The horror film follows an adult Danny Torrance as he reckons with his traumatic past while dealing with a new supernatural threat. Learn more about the Doctor Sleep early screenings, and check out a cool new poster, below.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

doctor sleep posters

Hey, did you know Doctor Sleep is a sequel to The Shining? If not, don’t worry, two new posters for the Stephen King adaptation are here to make damn sure you don’t forget. These two posters lean heavily into imagery from Stanely Kubrick’s Shining adaptation, and also plaster Stephen King’s name above the title, something that hasn’t been done for a while. But King movies are hot, hot, hot right now, so this makes sense. Check out the Doctor Sleep posters below.

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