When I was 6 years old, I remember one evening sitting with my older brother in his bedroom playing something and watching TV. He was twelve and actually had his own black and white portable TV - the whole thing was cool beyond belief. At one point, a trailer (they used to call them “coming attractions” back then in 1960) for the movie Village of the Damned came on. Kids with platinum blond hair with strange eyes which would glow and make people kill themselves. My God, it scared the hell out of me. I couldn’t make sense of it. These were kids, actual killer kids, and they had a movie about them. I couldn’t stop talking about it, and hoped in vain to see the trailer again. I don’t remember if I was fortunate to see it, but I sure remembered the images of those searing eyes. I was too young to see the movie, of course, but my brother did. Much to my chagrin, he pronounced it “neat” but wouldn’t go into detail – whether this was out of brotherly concern (which I doubt) about causing me nightmares or he just couldn’t be bothered to talk to his baby brother at the time when he had more pressing things to do. Years later I was finally able to see the movie and also read the novel on which it was based: The Midwich Cuckoos. Both the film and the novel have justifiably attained “classic” status. The plot is unnerving and freakish. The characters, however, those kids who were monsters, they made a huge impression on my 6-year old mind. I’m not sure if I can point to this as the origin of my interest in the “creepy kid” horror genre, but it is a good account as any. Most of my horror fascination throughout childhood was drawn to giant rampaging dinosaurs in major cities (followed by other big monsters doing nasty things). So, being a fan of scary kid horror didn’t really take hold until high school when I read The Other and The Exorcist, but the origins may have started with that trailer seen in my brother’s bedroom in 1960.
Anthony Hains is a horror & speculative fiction writer.