Top Ten Tuesday: Santa’s Naughty List
With Santa Claus right around the corner, what better time is there to point out those good little boys and girls who have taken a turn for the worse? These are the baddest of the bad, the meanest of the mean, naughtiest in Santa’s list. They didn’t start out that way… Some say it’s genetics. Others say it’s how they were raised. Some are just being controlled by the devil himself! No matter how you view it, these kids are going to see a lot of coal in their stockings if they keep it up… TOP TEN: SANTA’S NAUGHTY LIST
10. The Exorcist
THE EXORCIST (1973) starred a young Linda Blair as Regan, an innocent little girl possessed by the devil. Sure, most parents out there surely feel their children are possessed by the devil at one point or another, but Linda Blair and the special effects team on this film raised the bar on what’s considered a “problem child.” Regan is a handful and a half, creating sleepless nights for her parents giving new meaning to split pea soup.
09. The Good Son
THE GOOD SON (1993) stars Macaulay Culkin in his second serious role — outside of making family films — and his first, and possibly best performance. Culkin plays Henry Evans, a normal boy on the surface, but just beneath the facade of youthful innocence is a boy showing signs of psychotic tendencies. This dangerous behavior takes front stage when his cousin comes to stay with Henry and his parents. Culkin is creepy, convincing and shows he has a darker side to his HOME ALONE image established early in his childhood acting career. One may wonder if this role, and that of his in PARTY MONSTER, are signs of a more intriguing thespian to come in later years.
08. The Addams Family
THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1991) Here’s an example of two “problem children” who were no problem at all to their adoring parents. Twins Wednesday(Christina Ricci) and Pugsley(Jimmy Workman) are the much loved warped children of Morticia(Angelica Huston) and Gomez Addams in Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 film THE ADDAMS FAMILY based on the characters created by Charles Addams in cartoons for the New Yorker(and developed further in the classic 1964-66 ABC-TV sitcom). After we see the kids join the adults toÂ welcome a group of Christmas carolers by pouring the contents of a bubbling cauldron on them in the pre-credits sequence, the kids are frolicking in their playroom. Wednesday instructs Pugsley to sit in the electric chair to play a game. “What’s the game called?” he asks. Widening her eyes at him, Wednesday replies, “It’s called ‘Is there a God?’”. Later at the dinner table when Pugley raises a meat cleaver toward her, she calmly warns,”Stop it.” Later, with the help of their long lost Uncle Fester(Christopher Lloyd), the kids enact a Shakespearean duelÂ that drenches the first row of the school pageant audience in gallons of fake blood, much to the delight of the elder Addamses. Workman does a good job playing Pugsley as a happy-go-lucky lunatic, but Ricci as Wednesday is the film’s standout with her quiet deadpan delivery and crazed stares. When Fester tucks her in for the night(along with her headless doll) she folds her arms like a corpse. It’s only fitting that after opening the film at Christmas, the final scene should be set at their favorite holiday: Halloween. While Pugsley dresses up as his beloved Uncle, Wednesday is in her usual black attire. When asked”What are you, darling? Where’s your costume?” she provides a great end line to her character(and the film) by stating” This is my costume.I’m a homicidal maniac. They look just like everybody else”.Truly these two kids are are ‘all together ooky’.
07. Lord of the Flies
LORD OF THE FLIES (1963) Although the book is required reading for most US schoolchildren, Lord of the Flies remains an amazing story and movie. After ending up stranded on a deserted island, a young group of boys with no adult supervision have to start their own living community. They have to fend for themselves, and figure out how to survive. This eventually turns ugly and savage as the boys turn on each other. Some of the boys turn to horrific behavior in their moment of crisis, that is less than rational, but all they know to do. Sure, these kids were not ready to live on their own, but the line between rational survival and pure savagery has been drawn.
FIRESTARTER (1984) stars a young Drew Barrymore, long before her fame as a “wild girl” from a family of Hollywood legend. Based on the best-selling Stephen King novel, Drew plays Charlene “Charlie” McGee, a troubled girl with good intentions. Her trouble is no fault of her own, but given the cruel nature of the world around her, she struggles to control her special ability. Charlie’s parents participated in a medical experiment, giving them telekinetic powers, which led to their child acquiring pyrokinetic powers. It doesn’t take much effort to imagine the result of an adolescent child with the ability to create and control fire with her mind. Personally, even more so than ET, this is the role I remember Drew most for as a child.
05. Children of the Corn
CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984) In the mid-1980s, no freckled, red-haired teenager was safe from the mocking name calling of ‘Malachai.’ That whiny, red-headed terror (played by Courtney Gains) and his army of brain-washed children took their small country town of Gatlin, Nebraska by force, under the command of a demonic presence that walks behind the rows in CHILDREN OF THE CORN. Adapted from a Stephen King short story of the same name, the 1984 film’s B-horror movie shortcomings have withered in the past 20-plus years to reveal its D-horror movie charm in a genre that’s currently saturated in computer-generated effects and remakes. And the sight of kids in a corn field chanting ‘Praise God, Praise the Lord,’ while brandishing sickles and knives still manages to send a chill up the spine.
04. Problem Child
PROBLEM CHILD was the 1990 comedy from director Dennis Dugan (I KNOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY, YOU DON’T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN, GROWN-UPS). This spawn-of-satan movie starred Michael Oliver as the 7 yr old “Junior” who’s wreaked havoc after being left on a doorstep from birth. He’s laid every kind of path of destruction including bulldozing a mobile home after his toys were stepped on. After going from home-to-home, Junior is left at an orphanage, only to be adopted by a couple played by John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck. As you can imagine, chaos ensues in the home and neighborhood of new parents Ben and Flo Healy – a well-meaning dad and brow-beating mom. Their “model” problem child terrorizes everyone around him and is even pen pals with a serial killer who eventually shows up on the Healy’s door to kidnap mother and son. Comedy in disguise of a true horror film is really what this film is all about. Even Ritter is glad to be rid of his gold-digging wife and bow-tie sporting “son,” but alas, the film has a happy ending and everything is made right. The nasty Flo is left packing, literally, inside a suitcase on the back of a farmer’s pig truck and Ben rescues Junior and the son tells his Dad, “I Love You.” Leaves ya misty, doesn’t it?
PROBLEM CHILD beget two more sequels and an animated tv show on the public.
03. The Omen
THE OMEN (1976) I’m generally not a big fan of remakes, so when I think of one of the great screen problem kids I remember Harvey Stephens as little Damien Thorn not in the 2006 version,but in Richard Donner’s original 1976 horror classic THE OMEN. The film begins in Italy when aspiring politico Robert Thorn(Gregory Peck) learns that his wife Katherine(Lee Remick)Â has delivered a stillborn son. Luckily a helpful priest is able to provide them with a healthy newborn boy(she’ll never know!). As the lad gets around 4 or 5 all manner of freakishness starts to occur. At his birthday party Damien’s nanny hangs herself after getting the stink-eye from a rottweiler. Later, after becoming the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, Robert takes the family to a formal function at a church. As the the steeple looms closer, Damien has a royal freak-out. He shrieks and pulls at mommy’s hair so violently that they speed away to home. Soon after Mom decides to treat him to a day at the drive-thru safari park. But the animals(other than those nasty rottweilers) know this kid is trouble. The giraffes sprint away from him and hordes of red-butted baboons attack their car. Damien’s most memorable moment happens back at the Thorn estate when Katherine decides to water a hanging plant. The tyke comes charging down the hallway on his tricycle(after being let out of his room by his evil new nanny) and knocks mommy off the table and over the railing. He stares blankly at her as she clings to the railing and then plummets face first twenty feet to the lower level. Damien eliminates the competition when we learn that the fall has ended her pregnancy. After finally heading the warnings of a priest and photographer(eliminated in grisly accidents) Robert takes a pair of scissors to the sleeping boy’s head of hair and sees the mark of the beast:666! The final shot of the film belongs to little Damien , flanked by the U.S. president and first lady, as he turns to the camera and his grimace changes into a sinister smile as if to say,”I will be back”(in two theatrical sequels, a TV movie, and the aforementioned remake). That Damien Thorn is quite the li’l hell-raiser!
02. Village of the Damned
VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1960) is based on The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (who also penned Day of the Triffids) and it has a simple but brilliant premise. A small British town is encompassed by an unseen force that causes everyone in a certain radius to fall asleep. When they awake, all of the women of the village are pregnant. It’s very scary stuff and actually one of the most memorable science-fiction films of the 1960′s. The children that are born from this event are eerie and detached. They all have the same blond hair and strange, penetrating eyes that make people do things they don’t want to do. They seem devoid of human emotions and hint that they are from a superior race. The word “aliens” might be on everyone’s mind while watching this movie but it never comes right out and says that and I think it’s a great touch. The actors are all quite good but the central child actor, Martin Stephens, really stands out. John Carpenter helmed a decent remake in 1995.
01. The Bad Seed
THE BAD SEED (1956) is an incredible film and with good reason it tops our list this week. The films protagonist, Christine, appears to have a perfect life with a loving husband and a beautiful, sweet little girl named Rhoda. The mother and daughter go about their daily lives until the mother slowly comes to realize Rhoda’s true personality… that her blond, angelic eight-year-old is wrecking havoc and committing horrific acts of violence. The events leading up to the end of the film are the stuff of cinema greats and will leave you pondering the question of nature versus nurture. The film excels in its presentation of the banality of evil as in real life; evil in The Bad Seed comes in the most chillingly normal package.
What do you think? Who are your favorite kid on Santa’s Naughty List? HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE MOVIE GEEKS!!!