I must have sensed someone was standing there when I opened my eyes around 3 a.m. recently and found my 9-year-old daughter hovering silently over my bed. I have to admit, for a split second, she scared the bejeezus out of me. Then, "Mama, can I sleep with you?"
I let her slide in between the covers and thought to myself, "Whew, I have not given birth to the Bad Seed, after all."
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I don't care how much you tell me you love your child, every parent has a latent, little fear that she's hatched a pint-sized sociopath. That no amount of good parenting will matter because the innocent crawling into your bed at night harbors some deep-seated desire to be the next Lizzie Borden.
Most of us have managed to slide this irrational concern deep into a brain crevice. But then there's a new slasher movie out every summer to remind us: Size doesn't matter when it comes to evil.
There's something about the contrast of a sweet, angelic face with the Lord of the Flies savagery lurking beneath that makes these movies the ultimate horror stories. In 9 out of 10 of these movies, you can bet the wicked little thing has sprung from Stephen King's twisted imagination ("The Shining," "Pet Semetary," "Firestarter"). But this summer, it's "The Orphan," the story of a seemingly mature 9-year-old girl who causes a number of "home accidents." There's also young Tom Riddle, the unsettling boyhood incarnation of Lord Voldemort in the new "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." He may be only 11, but his icy, deadly stare turned me cold.
Here, in honor of Hollywood's killer tykes, are my Top 7 Demonic Child Movies. Have you locked your bedroom door tonight?
Regan MacNeil from "The Exorcist," 1973 – Possessed by the devil, Regan abuses priests, breaks out in boils, levitates, and projectile vomits. Sound like a typical Friday night for most families I know.
The Davis baby from "It's Alive," 1974 – Parents of newborns know best: Don't wake up the baby, especially when he's a vicious mutant monster who kills when frightened.
Damien from "The Omen," 1976 – You know you're in trouble when the child you are raising turns out to be the offspring of Satan. Have you checked for the 666 birthmark?
Carrie White from "Carrie," 1976 – What parents of a teenage girl haven't wondered if they're living out this horror classic? Another reason not to let her go to prom.
Isaac Chroner from "Children of the Corn," 1984 – Savage preacher boy orders the children of a small Nebraska town to kill all the adults. Avoid play dates with this one.
Henry Evans from "The Good Son," 1993 – We have seen the face of evil and it looks an awful lot like Macaulay Culkin on the edge of puberty.
Jane from "Mr. Brooks," 2007 – Serial killers who spawn their own offspring should worry about certain inherited traits.