Cinema's Brat Pack: The Naughtiest Children of Hollywood | 123Movies
Forget Demi Moore or Judd Nelson's 80's chic clique, Hollywood's true brat pack involves some of the more groundbreaking movies ever. Films centered on hopelessly naughty tykes who'll stop at nothing to accomplish their dark goals.
From Linda Blair in The Exorcist - regarded as one of the most powerful horror films of all time - to Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed - a landmark film focusing on philosophical questions of evil stemming from either nature or nurture, these films intrigue each generation of fans because kids usually behave themselves.
These film tots behave too, but strictly in their own self interest.
The Bad Seed (1956)
The forerunner of the true Hollywood Brat Pack - Patty McCormack's portrayal of the scheming, seemingly soulless Rhoda is still the gold standard by which bad film kids are judged.
Starring opposite Nancy Kelly who played Rhoda's well meaning, if slightly clueless mother, McCormack's fully fleshed out performance earned her a supporting Oscar nomination. The film was based upon a hit Broadway play and while it may seem a bit dated now in terms of the highly theatrical acting, the story remains chillingly real and engrossingly disturbing. Most fans would agree that Patty McCormack's legendary performance should have been nominated in the Best Actress category and probably should have won. There's been talk of Dakota Fanning tackling the role for a remake, but nothing official confirming a new version has surfaced as of this writing.
The DVD contains a fun, informative conversation between star McCormack and writer Charles Busch.
Village of the Damned (1960)
This hauntingly produced British sci-fi horror film contains some of the most effective, though low key thrills of any of the brat pack flicks. Based on the novel The Midwich Cuckoos, the plot involves about a dozen women giving birth to nearly identical looking and acting children nine months after their small English village is gripped by a mysterious paralysis where every living thing is put into a comatose like state with absolutely no explanation.
With their pale, white skin and blonde hair, the freaky kiddies come across like a quiet band of Nazi Hitler youth. The children protect themselves and wreak havoc through mind control and telepathy, which becomes strongest when their eerie glowing eyes network them into a powerful universal mind. What's most effective and mysterious about the film is there's no definitive answer about the origins of the kooky kids. John Carpenter directed a solid remake in 1994 starring Christopher Reeve and Kirstie Alley.
Children Of The Damned (1963)
Although not as scary, this sequel to Village of the Damned, ramps up the action and stands out as a stronger sequel than many a horror or sci-fi film can boast.
The plot now involves children from all over the world with tykes from Indian and African descent now taking part in the X-Files like marauding kid gang. It provides a melting pot international chill factor as the still unknown cause for the psychic villainous children force the powers that be to take military action. Today's parallels can be see in everything from cyber obsessed youth to the so called Indigo Child, which tells stories of modern waifs whose highly developed intellectual powers and overall maturity level seem more accelerated in all areas than their forebears.
The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is more than a naughty girl spewing green pea soup.
It remains a singularly potent example of skillful film production covering a subject so controversial, that people still have problems with the movie to this day. Demonic possession may have been flirted with or even portrayed in movies prior to William Friedkin's masterpiece, but none before or since have been able to capture the raw feeling of dread, evil and ultimate redemption better than this landmark film.
Linda Blair's character of Regan starts off as a well adjusted daughter of a celebrated actress played by the wonderful Ellen Burstyn. Slowly, Regan displays shocking behavior that physicians and psychiatrist her worried Mom brings her to are at a loss to explain. When all medical, and rational thought is exhausted, the Catholic church is sought out. Father Damian Karras (Jason Miller) is called on to exorcise the demon spirit from the girl.
Perhaps most disturbing about this devilish brat romp is the core story. It's supposedly based upon a true tale, taken from William Peter Blatty's best selling novel who also penned the screenplay. Not only was it banned for years in several countries, including Britain, but stories of misery plagued the production and subsequent release for many years afterwards.
The Omen (1976)
Despite trying to exploit the demonic child film success of The Exorcist, this Richard Donner helmed shocker treads original, terrifying ground.
Here the terrible tyke isn't just bad natured, nor taken over by a demonic spirit, but he's the physical, earthly embodiment of the Devil himself. The religious concept of the anti-Christ is explored most effectively in this film and while Christians or Catholics may be most disturbed by the convincing religious allegory, any spiritual person no matter their denomination will find much to be haunted by here. The little actor chose to portray Satan's spawn would later say his childhood was a true horror show, as both kids and adults would tease or shun him because of the heavy realized drama of the hit film.
Actors Gregory Peck, Lee Remmick and David Warner headline the impressive cast and Donner's direction is spot on spooky. It spawned a solid sequel with Damien as a confident, though tortured military school cadet, an OK third outing with Sam Neal playing the adult child of Satan now a global entrepreneur hungry for business, political and ultimately world domination. A weak TV film followed in 1991 and most recently a 2006 remake failed to excite critics, audiences or generate respectable box office receipts.
Problem Child (1990)
A slapstick comedy more than anything else, Problem Child is perhaps the most innocent natured and light of Hollywood's brat flicks. John Ritter is the big name in the cast playing the adoring adoptive father of Junior (Michael Oliver), who soon discovers his new son acts like he wasn't sent from heaven, but from the other, hotter place.
The film is now something of a cult classic with bad kid loving fans everywhere and was successful enough to spawn a sequel - Problem Child 2.
The Good Son (1993)
Regarded as the male version of The Bad Seed and what may be Macauley Culkin's most risky departure from the adorable scamp image he cultivated in the Home Alone movies, the film ultimately is much better than many remember.
A pre-Hobbitized Elijah Wood plays opposite Culkin as the hapless child who is the only one who seems to know the true, evil nature of Culkin's character. The film balances the disturbing subject material with skill and the juxtaposition of Good in the title to the "Bad" in The Bad Seed is another indication of the film maker's intentional homage to the classic, which preceded it by almost forty years.
Bad kids can be the making of some really good films, so the old saying wasn't true: Children should be seen and not heard. In the case of great films, kids should be front and center, speaking lots of memorable dialogue.