are certain taboos that few filmmakers will breach. Killing kids is one
of them. That’s why a good child murder remains one of the moments in
any movie that will shock even the most jaded connoisseur of extreme
Some of you reading this will believe that kid
kills are beyond the pale, but remember – this is just acting and
make-up. This list is the best fictional kid kills – you won’t see the Twilight Zone movie
on this list. Adjust your outrage-meters accordingly and settle in for
ten of the best minor murders ever committed to celluloid.
Totaled Tot: Campin’ Carl Nelson
Kiddie Killer: A cuddly bear messed up on mercury.
Minor Murder Method: Hard to tell. Either claw attack or a feather boa accident.
One bar I frequent has lately been reminding me of the old teasing days of VHS, because the art on the walls, when seen out the corner of your eye, looks an awful lot like the amazing H.R. Giger cover to Future-Kill. Makes me want to be ten again, when I’d pretend I could draw that, Def-Con 4, and a million others. There’s a whole other list right there, featuring the ratio of awesome cover to shitty payoff in the VHS days.
That’s where Prophecy comes in. Featuring one of the gooey-est, greatest animal monsters to grace a box cover, this was John Frankenheimer at his cockteasing worst. This environmental horror story features a mercury-addled mutant bear that, every once in a while, gets around to killing people. Consider that a blessing, though. Heavy-handed as this eco-thriller is, we’re lucky the bear doesn’t act like a giant thermometer and warn of melting ice caps.
Much of the killing is done half-assed, or in tight, under-lit closeup. But when the bear trips over a camping family, Prophecy takes a sharp detour down the right path for exactly…oh, fifteen seconds.
As ol’ Travis Nelson and his two kids slumber in the woods, the sloppy, deranged bear finally gets to work. Travis and his daughter are mostly menaced in close-up, but the littlest male Nelson, all zipped up in a sleeping bag he borrowed from Maggie Simpson, tries to hop away. The bear pulls a sweet combo (double-tap forward, light punch, light punch, I think) and the kid flies end over end before exploding against a rock like a grenade going off inside a pillow.
Note: Because I can’t find my DVD, two screens above are shamelessly stolen from Brian Collins’ awesome Horror Movie A Day entry. Read his site. It’s great!
Untold Story (1993)
Totalled Tots: Five tear-streaked pieces of lunch meat.
Kiddie Killer: Anthony Wong.
Minor Murder Weapon: Uncommon kitchen implements.
Before the internet was any good with streaming video, the ’90s had one obvious source for footage of lipsyncing fat boys and deadly accidents: Hong Kong movies.
Even in the mainstream stuff you had a tot in danger via John Woo, and babies being menaced and sacrificed in The Heroic Trio. But if you wanted the real goods, it was Category III, the country’s adults-only rating, all the way. You got yer explosive gore, yer rape, yer cannibalism…but rarely in the same scene, unless you were lucky. (Or you were in Germany watching Nekromantik.)
High on the CatIII import list was Untold Story, starring Anthony Wong as a bespectacled chap whose sense of right and wrong had been replaced by a colony of carpenter ants. He cut up normal humans and wrapped them in dough, at which point they became delicious humans. Wong took home the Hong Kong equivalent of an Oscar for his trouble, but when you get right down to it, the flick is a snooze.
Except for two scenes.
One features Wong helping a handful of chopsticks lose their virginity. The other, for which we are gathered today, is a flashback in which Wong terrorizes and chops up a family of seven. Of the kids, one l’il burrito is simply slashed in the throat and left to die on the floor. Two more are quickly given broad tracheostomies. Wong then throws a pre-teen piece of fois gras up on a table before lopping off her head as if he was auditioning for the Jean-Claude Dreyfus role in Delicatessen. We’re treated to an under-the-table shot of her noggin rolling off before a cascade of blood spills down. With a case of Chardonnay, Wong could probably have de-glazed the whole floor to make a nice pan gravy before knocking off the last tot, which sadly happens off-screen.