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DREAD X: DEATHCEMBER’s Trent Haaga Picks His Top 10 Kid Deaths

I have a personal belief that when children are shown in horror movies, 9 times out of 10 they’ll be just fine. This is because children can be protected from dangers by adult figures, such as parents, police, teachers, etc… Adults don’t really have someone older than them to rely on because the word “adult” is so age-ambiguous. Those below a certain age-bracket have their elders to save them while the elders are basically fucked. It’s kinda BS but them’s the breaks.

Thankfully, we’ve got Deathcember‘s Trent Haaga to remind us that children aren’t always safe. In fact, they sometimes get ROYALLY fucked up and we’re 100% here for that!

Here’s what Haaga tells us:

“Killing children in a movie. It’s still taboo, although not nearly as taboo as killing an animal … I always find it hilarious that audiences can watch millions of humans die during an alien invasion but get really concerned about the dog.  Kill an animal and people leave the theater. Kill a kid and people stop, pick their jaws off of the ground, and keep watching. 

“I got my start working for Lloyd Kaufman of Troma films, one of the vanguards when it comes to slaughtering children in film. Sure, Lloyd did it for provocation, but what he also taught me was that kids are production value.  It costs more money to hire kids, so having one in a movie makes it feel more expensive. But it’s best to kill them quickly so that you only need them for a day of shooting.  When it came time to make my segment for the upcoming Christmas anthology Deathcember, I made sure to murder both of my own kids in it. I guess that could be considered a spoiler alert, but it happens in the first 30 seconds of the film, so not really.  

“Don’t expect the usual stuff like IT and Jaws here. I’m going for some deeper and more disturbing cuts in this list!”

You can read Trent’s list below!

A collection of 24 films that take a look at the dark side of the festive season. 24 international directors with the most diverse ideas and styles; linked by short animated segments that deal with the Advent calendar itself.

Deathcember features stars such as Barbara Crampton, Barbara Magnolfi, AJ Bowen, Brianna Barnes, Sean Bridgers, Johnny Vivash, and many more.

The full list of directors includes Dominic Saxl, Michael Varrati, Lazar Bodroža, Florian Frerichs, Isaac Ezban, Sonia Escolano, Bob Pipe, Steve De Roover, Jürgen Kling, Ama Lea, Sadrac González-Perellón, Julian Richards, Lee Sang-woo, Vivienne Vaughn, Ruggero Deodato, Sam Wineman, Andreas Marschall, Lucky McKee, Milan Todorović, Pollyanna McIntosh, Rémi Fréchette, Jason A. Rostovsky, John Cook Lynch, Trent Haaga, Annika Marx, BJ Colangelo, Zach Shildwachter and Alyosha Saari.

10) Double baby girl stabbing in SGT. KABUKIMAN, NYPD 

Troma is a goldmine of kid killing. From Beware, Children at Play to the notorious “kid getting his head run over” in The Toxic Avenger, but I’m putting a slightly deeper cut as my #10. 

In the opening minutes of Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, two beautiful little girls are stabbed to death by a typically maniacal Troma bad guy. It’s off-screen, but there’s just something so bizarre and out-of-left-field about it. Not only that, but the two victims are Lloyd’s own daughters! The fact that the child murder shot is immediately followed by an in-progress sex scene with nudity just makes the entire thing more bizarre. And Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD was Lloyd’s honest attempt at making a more “family-friendly” Troma film! 

9) Dog-mauling in SUBURBIA

Penelope Spheeris’s punk rock masterpiece is known for its music and “you are there” snapshot of punk kids in Los Angeles in the early 80s. In essence, it’s a melodrama. But the opening scene where a feral dog attacks and kills a toddler comes at you hard and fast with zero warning at all. Bonus points for really lingering on the dog shaking the toddler, a little girl in an adorable winter jumpsuit. It’s obviously a dummy, but it the screaming sound effects really help this one stick. 

8) Ice cream mix-up assassination in ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13

Look, the ice cream guy was nervous and he gave her the wrong flavor. And she wasn’t content to just eat plain vanilla. Because of that, she died. This scene blew my fucking mind the first time I saw it. No faster way to make a bad guy into a REALLY bad guy than to have him shoot a little girl who just wanted a little chocolate in her life. 

**Interesting to note that in both Assault and Suburbia, the kids die because their parents have to stop and make a call from a phone booth. See? Cell phones aren’t so bad, after all …   

7) He almost got away in MAN BITES DOG

In this pitch-black Belgian mockumentary, a film crew follows around a very erudite serial killer and films him committing his crimes. In one harrowing sequence, the killer enters a home and murders a couple only to be surprised by their little boy. The boy runs away into the woods to hide, but thanks to the helpful film crew’s lights, the killer is able to catch the kid. Then he has a whole conversation with the crew about how he doesn’t like to kill children … all while he’s slowly smothering the kid to death with a pillow. Like I said in the first sentence: pitch-black.  

6) “This guy, that’s who!” in WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? 

You simply can’t make a list like this without including a movie whose title is Who Can Kill  A Child? Lots of kids get killed in this one, but there’s a scene where lead actor Lewis Fiander is trying to make his way off of an island populated by homicidal kids. A massive crowd of them confronts him, ranging from 6 months to 12 years old … And he BLASTS his way through the group with a MACHINE GUN – bloody red squibs and all. Wow…

5) Oof. This is just depressing … Why am I watching this? in IN A GLASS CAGE

This Spanish film from 1986 is a tough one to get through.  A few young kids are killed in this one, but the “killing a boy by injecting him with gasoline and then the camera dwells on him dying for an uncomfortably long time while a Nazi in an iron lung watches” is horribly unforgettable. Watch this movie at the end of the day because it’ll pretty much ruin whatever’s left of it. And yet it’s a powerful and strangely beautiful film, which makes it even more disturbing. 

4) You think “In a Glass Cage is disturbing? Hold my beer…” from MEN BEHIND THE SUN 

This 1988 Hong Kong film about the notorious Japanese war unit 731 is rough to watch. A team of “army scientists” (read: sick sadists) injects a little boy with paralyzing agents and then slowly, methodically vivisect him. It’s like watching a PETA documentary about “where’s the meat on my plate come from?” and it is utterly stomach-churning … 

3) “What’s wrong? You guys don’t want the god Ar to be mad, do you?” in BEASTMASTER

It’s good to see this movie start to get the love that it deserves. Rip Torn is the evil wizard Maax. He worships the god Ar. Ar demands sacrifice. In one short but unforgettable (at least to me, at the tender age of 11 when this movie came out) sequence, Rip Torn tosses a screaming four-year-old into a blazing fire in front of the whole village. Then he has the gall to ask for more sacrifices right after that! Again, the surest way to make a bad guy even worse is to have him kill a kid. 

2) “Did he say ‘hot dog?'” in FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE

This 1977 sleaze-fest could never, ever, ever be made today. It’s like a race-themed I Spit On Your Grave for people who found that movie too polite. Three escaped convicts hold an African American family hostage and make them fight for their lives. In one unforgettable sequence, a friendly neighbor child comes over to play, is tipped off to the hostage situation, and runs home through the woods to call the police…but he never makes it. One of the convicts (a drooling, giggling psychopath the likes of which are long gone in today’s cinema) takes great pleasure in dashing the little boy’s brains out with a rock. Disturbing stuff, to be sure, but not the most disturbing thing in this whack-a-doodle exploitation masterwork.   

1) “Man, I was just starting to feel bad about your prison abuse” in THE UNTOLD STORY

Hong Kong Category III films. They mess with your mind, man. That’s why I’m placing this at number one. Anthony Wong (who won a “Best Actor” Hong Kong film award for his work in this film) is a sleazy, homicidal, amoral rapist cannibal in this day-wrecker of a film. After watching Wong horribly murder a bunch of people (who he then cooks and serves to unsuspecting restaurant patrons), he is caught and sent to prison where he is subjected to horrible torture by his fellow inmates. It gets so bad that you actually start to feel sort of bad for the guy… 

…And then, about 2/3 of the way through the movie he confesses to his first murders and we’re “treated” to a flashback where Wong kills an entire family, which includes four bound-and-gagged children. It’s bad enough that he kills their parents in front of them, but when he takes to the four kids with a giant meat cleaver…well, let’s just say that any sympathy for this character goes right out the window. This movie is powerful and disturbing and there’s really nothing like it out there. It’s hard to watch, but should be seen at least once for anyone with a curiosity about extreme cinema.     

What do you think?


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Written by Jonathan Barkan

Lifelong horror fan with a love of music on the side.

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