Some time ago I wrote a lengthy entry about Kids Who Kill in the movies. I have a love-hate relationship with children. I don’t have any of my own besides the Hubster and the furchildren. I like other people’s kids just fine for the most part. Mostly what I hate about kids are the extreme noises and smells that they can create. I have some hearing damage due to working too many rock and roll shows and playing with too many power tools in my younger days, but there are certain pitches that children can utter that drill straight into my skull, leaving me to twitch uncontrollably. Children are also germ-laden little monkeys that consistently have sticky hands even if they’ve just been washed within the last 12 seconds.
But on the other hand, I love children; they taste like chicken.
I am joking, I am joking. Children probably taste like what germs they are currently laden with, along with fruit snacks, sour milk, and Cheerios ™. In movies, children tend to be one polar extreme to the other: either they are darling little precious perfect snowflake angels, or they are monster angels of death, pain, and a bleeding dagger through the skull. Or the adults are screaming, “Why, WHY, my perfect snowflake angel, are you driving a bleeding dagger into my skull??” And that’s what we’re wondering today. Are these kids crazy, or just bad to the bone?
Let’s take a look at Acacia, a South Korean film from 2003.
A young married couple, unable to have children of their own, go to the local orphanage and naturally pick out the creepiest kid possible; that is, the kid who draws pictures of death, dead trees, and dead people that makes Edvard Munch’s The Scream seem like a great nursery wallpaper:
So not only does the kid draw creepy pictures, but he’s inexplicably drawn to the dead acacia tree in the backyard, believing it to be his real mother. The kid continues to go all creepy-looney-tunes, his parents kind of go nuts as well, and lots of people die, but the acacia tree flowers like nobody’s business. Now there is a lot of craziness and odd dream-like sequences in this movie, and I’m giving a lot of that short shrift because this is the turning point of the movie for me:
The kid’s adoptive mother is a knitter and a weaver. One of the first things she does, in fact, is to knit this boy a lovely red sweater. Later in the film, there are sequences that use the red yarn as a magnificent metaphor for ties that bind, etc., but this moment in the film made me scream. As you can see, the little shit pulls the tail and unravels this whole lovely piece of work. It’s a great fan pattern, too. Now, as a knitter, never never ever ever would I leave a piece that could unravel. If I don’t bind them off properly, they’re on lifelines or holders and that loose end is tied up good and secure. Seriously, if I had a kid that pulled this stunt, he’d be opening a big ‘ol can of whoop-ass.
Rotten Kid Verdict: I don’t give a rat’s ass what kind of problems a kid has, he ain’t messin’ with my yarn. Guilty!
Moving on, we have this great film called Devil Times Five (1974) also known as Peopletoys, Tantrums, and The Horrible House on the Hill.
Five children, including one Leif Garrett (!), are in a terrible van accident in the snowy woods, although it’s a bit ambiguous about why the accident happened. The kids then seek shelter at a cabin-mansion in the woods, using their cuteness to worm their way into some do-gooding hearts. It turns out that these kids are actually all mentally disturbed, and even though a pre-Boss Hogg Sorrell Booke attempts to use modern psychology on them, death befalls all the adults, and the kids have a great time with their new toys:
Seriously, this is a great movie. It also features Shelley Morrison, who played Rosario the maid on Will and Grace. And how can you go wrong with Leif Garrett as a kid with gender identity issues? This is NOT to say that kids with gender identity issues go on to kill people. Just in 1970’s horror films.
Rotten Kid Verdict: As a reminder to the court, the Rotten Kid Court does not recognize the plea of insanity. Guilty! … times five. *snerk*
Let’s wrap up today with Spider Baby (1964):
This cute little black-humor horror-fest stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as the chauffeur-cum-caretaker of the three Merrye children, Virginia, Elizabeth, and Ralph:
These children suffer from a family disease called the “Merrye Syndrome”, which only affects members of the immediate family, probably due to inbreeding or eating Lon’s cooking. Members of the family grow normally until adulthood, when they begin to regress mentally to a child-like state in a sort of reverse (and perverse) progeria or perhaps even a cheap ’60s version of Benjamin Button syndrome. Virginia loves her some spiders, Ralph is freaking lech straight out of a John Waters film, and Elizabeth loves her pretty dresses and thinks she’s just the bee’s knees. Anyway, a distant relative, Emily, believes that there’s an inheritance to be made out of these three and their crumbling family mansion, so there’s the obligatory family reunion along with Emily’s brother Peter, the family lawyer, and cousin Sam and his pretty girlfriend, Ann. After a lovely dinner of twigs, ferns, and possibly a tufted titmouse, hilarity ensues when ears get cut off, cats get killed, and Emily catches the family disease from a forced sexual encounter with Ralph.
Finally, Lon decides enough is enough, and proceeds to blow the family house and the remaining family to kingdom come. However, Sam and Ann escape, and all these near-death experiences make them fall in love, marry, and have a daughter. Sam, as a distant cousin, is sure that he has escaped the “Merrye Family Syndrome”, but, as is the nature of these goofy-ass flicks, the last image we see is of Sam and Ann’s young daughter delightedly playing with a spider in its web. The whole movie is worth it for the opening theme song, a spoof of “Monster Mash”, sung by Lon.
Rotten Kid Verdict: Well, technically, these people are adults, and they didn’t actually kill anyone. Furthermore, spiders scare the bejeebers out of me, so …. Not Guilty!
The Current Rotten Kid Tally:
Children of the Really Rotten Ilk: 8 (Each Devil Times Five kid is a separate count in this court!)
They’re Not Bad, They’re Just Misunderstood: 3
Simply Trying to Channel Their Inner Evil Child: 1
Both Misunderstood and Misrepresented in Court: 3