Sugar and spice and everything nasty and not very nice; that's the usual scenario when evil kids go out to play in the horror genre. But there's something not quite right here. Children in real life rarely have power over adults (unless they are royalty or Disney Channel stars), while in the horror genre they wield enough power to make any and all adults quake in fear or drop dead.
How can this be? What elements combine to turn all that sugar sour and comforting cinnamon spice into hot pepper? Why do they scare us so much, or traumatize us, or make us wish they would go away and play with their nastiness somewhere else? From zombie kids to Satan's pride and joy, from juvenile serial killers to mutant offspring, the little evil ones bedevil us.
The following members of The League of Tana Tea Drinkers lend their thoughts on the subject for your edification.
Vault of Horror talks about the evil destruction of childhood:
For the longest time, horror films and the concept of childhood have had a complex relationship. This has much to do with the fact that one of the central themes of all horror entertainment — if not the central theme — is the corruption/destruction of good by evil.
Childhood as an ideal represents nothing so much as innocence in its purest form. And innocence itself is the ultimate distillation of “good”. Perhaps this is why both creators and audiences alike have often had something of a difficult time dealing with it within the horror medium. Because childhood represents the ultimate good, the corruption/destruction of that good is the most extreme form of evil that most of us can imagine. Very often it is simply too much to bear.
This is why, for as long as horror films have been around, the ultimate taboo, the one area most have avoided like the plague, has been the murder of children. True, there have been notable exceptions over the years, movies like Frankenstein (1931), The Blob (1988), and Sleepy Hollow (1999). But for the most part, filmmakers keep away from it, as exemplified most vividly in some of the Friday the 13th movies, in which Jason will literally walk past the beds of sleeping campers and keep his focus on the counselors. For most of us, violence against children is something we don’t really want to see in horror movies. It’s not fun or entertaining, and unfortunately, it's all too painful and real.
Which brings me to the original topic: evil kids in the horror genre. Ruling out the literal destruction of the child, the closest most horror creators choose to come is the destruction of childhood. If horror is all about the corruption of good, then the corruption of the ultimate good, the innocence of childhood, is about as evil as it gets.