5. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch has a lot of good qualities, but let’s be honest, the reason you watch the movie is to see Little
Buddy Kupfer (Brad Schacter) put on the Don Post pumpkin mask and explode with bugs, spiders, and snakes. The sequence is a mesmeric horror show where the tiny kiddie becomes the first Silver Shamrock test subject. Their commercial signal interacts with the mask’s sensor causing a phantasmagorical combustion within. Little Buddy claws at his mask as it seemingly rots along with the rest of his body. He hits the floor a husk, his blood and guts now transformed into an infinite wave of creepy crawlies. “Gross” does not even come close to naming the end result. (Brad Gullickson)
4. Don’t Look Now (1973)
As flippant as I’ve been through the writing of these blurbs, I cannot imagine what it must be like to actually lose a child. The horror of it. The void that it leaves behind in those who remain. Nicolas Roeg‘s Don’t Look Now explores this grotesque reality that too many must face, depicting the death of Christine in appalling slow motion. It’s a moment where life ends for everyone in the frame, a sequence that stains every other that comes after.
Donald Sutherland‘s John Baxter is desperate to believe that communication with his daughter is still possible after her death, and he believes he sees her roaming Venice. Spiritually and metaphorically, she does follow him wherever he goes, but that’s not enough. He needs a tangible experience. But the one he gets, wrapped in a familiar little red raincoat, is almost as hard to describe as the loss of the child in the first place. (Brad Gullickson)
3. Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Say what you will about Maximum Overdrive, but there is no denying that it is the highest form of cinema. Sure, Stephen King was a first-time director that was absolutely coked-up out of his mind, but when you want Stephen King done right, you need a coked-up Stephen King! In a film filled to the brim with spectacle, nothing is more spectacular than a scene involving little leaguers. First, the team’s coach falls victim to a vending machine that decides to fling soda cans at this crotch and head — a truly terrible way to go. The kids dart off, most making it to safety, with the exception of one poor kid on a bike. Unable to ride his bike across a grassy field, the kid flips over the top of his handlebars. Before he can get back to his feet, a steamroller bursts through the outfield wall like the Kool-Aid Man and promptly flattens him like a Looney Toon. To me, that’s cinema. (Chris Coffel)
2. Hereditary (2018)
It’s pretty wild that the scariest thing in Ari Aster’s Hereditary isn’t a greedy, ancient demon cult or even the self-decapitation via piano wire. It’s anaphylactic shock. Relenting to his mother’s demands, Peter (Alex Wolff) brings his socially awkward kid sister Charlie (Milly Shapiro) with him to a house party. Being a teenager, Peter swiftly shirks his babysitting duties to go smoke pot. Unattended, Being a kid, Charlie chows down on some cake. And it’s the plausibility that makes what happens next so horrifying. Unaware that the cake contained walnuts, Charlie goes starts gasping for breath and goes into shock. While Peter races to the hospital, a wheezing Charlie sticks her head out the car window for air. The body of a dead deer appears in the middle of the road, and when Peter swerves to avoid it, Charlie’s noggin is beaned by a passing telephone pole. What’s worse? The soft crunch of the impact? Or the shot of Charlie’s now headless sweater waving in the wind? Haha, trick question: it’s the jump cut to Charlie’s head covered in ants. (Meg Shields)
1. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Every time I rewatch John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, his first proper feature after his film school debut (Dark Star), I’m reminded why it just might be my favorite of his nearly untouchable filmography. Every single thing about it is aces, and it all starts with one of my favorite tropes in genre films – killing off a goddamn kid. You’d think more films would do it, but it remains a bridge too far for many filmmakers and viewers alike. Happily for me, a connoisseur of kiddie carnage, Carpenter had no such qualms. Little Kim Richards, fresh off her big Disney debut in Escape to Witch Mountain, pesters her frazzled dad for an ice cream cone. She gets the wrong one because the ice cream man is equally distracted by some nearby gang members, and when she goes back to get her vanilla twist? Well, it comes with a side of hot lead courtesy of an apathetic street punk. The editing, the score, the “I wanted vanilla twist,” the look on her face as the squib hits – all a shocking perfection. (Rob Hunter)
Hug your small ones as you continue to shatter taboos with our 31 Days of Horror Lists!
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