The Top 25 Horror Movies About Killer Kids

Within the horror genre, the "killer child" film is an intriguing niche, one in which the perceived innocence of kids runs in sharp contrast to their violent actions on screen. It's a gimmick, to be sure, but quite a few movies have turned the premise into chilling entertainment, from the '70s classic "The Omen" to more recent films like "Orphan."

This prototypical killer child movie finds an American diplomat and his wife taking in a child who turns out to be the son of Satan. Deadly "accidents" seem to follow the kid around, as do fanatical nannies who toss themselves off of rooftops. A chilling entry in the Satan-centric films of the late '60s and '70s, "The Omen" single-handedly ensured that no child would ever again be named Damien.

One of the films most synonymous with the "killer kid" genre, this Stephen King adaptation actually isn't all that great, but it creates enough atmosphere—especially in an early massacre scene—to be entertaining.

After Drew Barrymore won our hearts in "E.T.," she set them on fire as the sympathetic title character in this Stephen King adaptation. Barrymore plays a little girl whose ability to light fires with her mind draws the unwanted attention of the military.

04
of 25

It's Alive (1974)

It's Alive DVD
© Warner Home Video

The idea of a mutant killer baby is laughable, but cult writer/director Larry Cohen treats it with a remarkably straight face in "It's Alive." The seriousness is helped by the fact that the claw-footed kid—little more than a cheap rubber doll—isn't shown very long. Mostly you just hear it off screen, crying and screaming when it's scared ... which is often.

05
of 25

The Children (1980)

The Children DVD
© Troma

In this entertaining low-budget feature, six children on a school bus ride through a toxic cloud from a nearby nuclear power plant, turning them into zombies. These zombies aren't interested in eating anyone, though. The twisted plot has them developing the ability to burn people alive with their hands, meaning that all the kids have to do to kill their parents is give them a hug.

06
of 25

Case 39 (2010)

'Case 39' movie poster.
© Paramount

Like a feature-length version of the classic "Twilight Zone" episode "It's a Good Life," this long-delayed and underrated flick starring Renee Zellweger as a social worker hired to handle a troubled girl delivers solid entertainment.

Though it will never be mistaken for a good movie, "The Pit" remains absurdly watchable, thanks to its fascinating train wreck of a lead character. 12-year-old Jamie is an emotionally disturbed, pathologically lying perv who looks up women's skirts and sends harassing photos of naked women to his teachers. If there's anyone who shouldn't be trusted with a pit full of man-eating troglodytes, it's him. But unfortunately for everyone else, Jamie's the one who discovers the pit, and his natural inclination is to lure his enemies to it and push them in.

In this Stephen King adaptation, a grief-stricken man buries his young son's body in a magical burial ground that resurrects corpses. However, when the tyke returns, there's something terribly wrong with him—a fondness for slicing scalpels through human flesh.

A demented Shirley Temple-type named Rhoda cold-bloodedly kills anyone who prevents her from getting what she wants in this black-and-white classic.

10
of 25

Sick Boy (2012)

SIck BOy
© Grand

One of the most underrated killer kid movies, "Sick Boy" features a classic babysitter-in-peril setup that is turned on its head when the source of the peril turns out to be the child. Cinematic direction, oodles of atmosphere, a strong cast and realistic, well-rounded characters overcome the low production value and make this a true diamond in the rough.

11
of 25

Kill, Baby...Kill! (1966)

Kill, Baby, Kill DVD
© Dark Sky Films

Italian legend Mario Bava directed this tale of the ghost of a six-year-old girl who seeks vengeance on the residents of a small Transylvanian village who let her die. Despite its silly American title, this is a somber film that showcases Bava's visual style, with kinetic camerawork, dreamlike sequences, and lush colors.

In this horror film from 2006, pale-faced, black-eyed zombie kids dressed in Depression-era clothes climb out of the mine they died in and roam the woods at night, carrying pickaxes.

A bus from the children's ward of a mental hospital crashes in the snow, killing everyone on board except for five little psychotic children. They head towards a house in the hills, where they're taken in by a group of adults who think that they seem like normal kids. The adults couldn't be more wrong, though, as the crazy quintet sets up a series of grisly ambushes.

14
of 25

Wake Wood (2011)

Wake Wood
© Dark Sky

From the legendary Hammer Film Productions comes this tense and surprisingly grisly killer kid flick in the tradition of "Pet Sematary," the story of a grieving couple granted the chance to spend three days with their resurrected daughter.

Fresh off his stint in the family-friendly "Home Alone" movies, Macaulay Culkin opted to star as Henry, a pint-sized sociopath, in the R-rated "The Good Son." In the film, Henry's cousin Mark (Elijah Woods) comes to stay with him but soon discovers that the boy is only "good" at murder and mayhem. The climax, in which Henry's mother must choose between the two boys, is a contrived thing of beauty.

This smartly crafted supernatural thriller plays like "Ransom" meets "The Omen," as a quartet of ne'er-do-wells kidnap a wealthy family's son, only to realize that they've captured a Damien. The eerie tyke has a talent for getting inside people's heads and making them want to kill.

This highly entertaining killer kid flick, shot in a POV "home movie" style, tells the story of a husband and wife who, despite their efforts, end up with a couple of evil, evil kids.

18
of 25

Citadel (2012)

'Citadel' movie poster.
© Cinedigm/New Video

Sort of like "Them" with a supernatural element, this hypnotic urban fairy tale from Ireland features otherworldly kids tormenting an agoraphobic father trying desperately to protect his baby daughter.

This mix of "Village of the Damned" and "Devil Times Five" plays on the astrology craze of the '70s, featuring three children who are born in the same town on the same night under a particularly odd alignment of stars. A decade later, as their 10th birthday approaches, the three suddenly team up to kill as many people as possible.

In this 1960 flick, a mysterious force impregnates the women of a small British town, who then give birth to blonde, bright-eyed children who are mature beyond their years and have the power to read minds and control the actions of others.

Orphan movie poster
© Warner Bros.

Broadly drawn characters and a ridiculous plot only heighten the deliciously dark fun of this popcorn thriller. More »

In this David Cronenberg film, a psychologist specializing in "psychoplasmics"—the physical manifestations of a person's rage—treats a woman whose symptoms go well beyond the usual welts and scars. She actually births little mutant kids who kill anyone she feels anger toward. The little blonde monsters are malformed approximations of her real daughter, whose screeching fits of rage usually result in blunt force trauma.

There may be no more frightening image of a killer kid than that of Samara in "The Ring," crawling out of the well on TV ... and then out of the TV.

This terrifying French film features pubescent punks who remain mostly in the shadows, stalking and tormenting a couple staying in an isolated mansion.

This Spanish production has the apocalyptic feel of "The Birds," but with kids instead of fowl. A British couple vacationing on a small Mediterranean island discovers that all of the adult inhabitants have been murdered by the children.