Not to be confused with her closely-related filmic counterparts - e.g. Creepy Little Boys (The Sixth Sense, The Bad Son), Creepy Little Boy and Girl (The Innocents, The Others, Under the Mountain, Escape to Witch Mountain), or Groups of Creepy Little Boys and Girls (Village of the Damned, The Brood, Lord of the Flies) - the Creepy Little Girl (CLG) stands alone, stomps her patent leather shoes, whips back her tightly-plaited braids, and demands dominant screentime. If she doesn’t get it she just may cut your throat with a straight-razor and sing a creepy little song over your dead body.
The Haunting of Julia
Sometimes we see films about CLG’s who have grown up. Such films might include gratuitous breast shots, homecoming queens with guns, or pig’s blood. If they’re made by Hammer Horror Studios they might very well feature Natasha Kjinski in a wimple while Christopher Lee ravishes her in a Satanic ritual to conceive the Antichrist (To the Devil, A Daughter - a plot that is dear to the heart of Movie666). Those are not, however, the films I am talking about here. Maybe next month.
The Creepy Little Girl exists in a liminal state, hovering between childhood and puberty. She is small, with intensely bright eyes (achieved by low-lighting, a la Bela Legosi in Dracula), yet she teeter-totters between childhood and adulthood, innocence and experience, secrets and lies, hopscotch and murder. Sometimes, as in Firestarter and Poltergeist, the CLG has supernatural powers that threaten to consume her tiny CLG body. Despite her raw potential for evil, mischief, and necromancy, however, the CLG inevitably follows the formulaic trajectory of the CLG film. To wit:
Creepy Little Girls fight with their mommies but love their daddies. They’re clever in school, but never seem to get enough attention from the teacher - and the teacher will pay for this. Usually the CLG has a sordid genetic history that is belied by her cute exterior. This “backstory” will explain why the CLG is so damn creepy. Finally, the creepy little girl must kill, be killed, or achieve a melodramatic redemption. This leads me to the conclusion that the CLG Film is just another metaphor for puberty (see Gingersnaps).
The following films feature quintessentially creepy little girls. They might not have breasts yet, but they’ll kick your ass.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1991) starring Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams.
SEE the Addams’ children duel to Shakespearean iambs! HEAR the scraping rapiers, the drips of blood, and the horrified gasps of the PTA! TASTE the girl scout cookies - made from real girl scouts! Although Christina Ricci hasn’t quite shaken her identity as a CLG, her portrayal of Wednesday Addams is creepy, eerie, and even disturbing. The only CLG to put girl scouts in their place, Ricci makes the Addams Family worth seeing for the school play alone.
ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER (1983) starring Martha Byrne as Anna Hart
Anna Zimmerman Hart is the smartest student in a school of gifted children. She’s a whizz at math, a brain at science, but she doesn’t have much patience for the arts. She also has a penchant for stealing jewelry, giving evil looks, and telling lies. Her teachers don’t trust her - and they shouldn’t. And why not? Because Anna is a clone - a genetic experiment that’s about to go horribly wrong. Based off Mildred Ames’ excellent young adult novel of the same name, this film flashes back to Nazi Germany and puts a surprising twist on the original text.
AUDREY ROSE (1977) starring Susan Swift as Ivy Templeton
HOT! HOT! HOT! HOT! Ivy Templeton doesn’t know why she has such horrible nightmares, but Anthony Hopkins does. Susan Swift stars as dead-girl reincarnated-as-live-girl-who-remembers-being-dead-girl through hypnosis. Hopkins dazzles as dead girl’s depressed dad. Confusingly creepy!
THE BAD SEED (1956) starring Patty McCormack as Rhoda Penmark
Rhoda wants the achievement medal so badly she’ll kill for it - and she does! When another boy wins the medal, Rhoda dons her steel-tipped patent leather shoes, follows the punk home, and takes care of business. They find his body - covered with crescent shaped wounds - but they don’t find the medal.
Message: If the teacher’d given Rhoda the freaking medal like she deserved none of this would have happened. But then we never would have found out that Rhoda’s got some psychotic killers on her mother’s side of the family tree. This film, also based off a book, makes a mockery of the novel’s grim ending.
In the book, Rhoda wins.
THE EXORCIST(1973) starring Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil
When Regan MacNeil plays with the Ouija Board she gets more than she bargains for - Beelzebub himself! When the Lord of Darkness takes over this CLG, he doesn’t screw around. Complete with spinning head and pea soup vomit, Regan’s Satanic possession is a fun-filled family treat! Priest sold separately.
Message: People too damn busy to take care of their own damn kids should not have the damn kids in the first place.
FIRESTARTER (1984) starring Drew Barrymore as Charlie McGee
Little Charlene can start fires with her mind - all because her parents were once part of a government genetic experiment. Did this genetic experiment go horribly wrong? It certainly did! Now the government wants to bury all traces of the project, and Pyrokinetic Drew and her Psychic Daddy are the only things standing in their way. Truly creepy is the image of little Drew’s chubby baby face covered in sweat - as she prepares to annihilate an entire squadron of men in white labcoats.
Message: The government needs to stop being so sneaky and share the psychic wealth with everyone - not just Hollywood royalty.
THE HAUNTING OF JULIA (1981) starring Sophie Ward as Kate LoftingDoesn’t she just look creepy?
To escape the accidental death of her daughter, Julia (Mia Farrow) flees her husband and attempts to start a new life - somewhat illogically, in a haunted manor in England. Her daughter is not so easy to shake, however, and becomes co-mingled with another dead CLG, the one who haunts Mia’s castle. The movie makes no sense in terms of plot, motivation, or character development, yet it is worth seeing for the final scene.
Note to Moms: If your daughter starts choking on her cornflakes do not, I repeat: DO NOT perform an emergency tracheotomy with a dull pare knife on the kitchen floor. Mia Farrow tries this in The Haunting of Julia and soon she Mia is M.I.A.
INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE (1994) starring Kirstin Dunst as Claudia
Truly disturbing are Claudia’s canines, spiral curls, and insatiable lust for fresh blood - not to mention the dead Creole woman she’s murdered and stowed beneath her dollies. Her cute little coffin softens some of her “dark” side, however, and one can’t help feeling a little sadness - and RELIEF - when a gang of rival vamps burns her CLG body to ash with a wash of bright sunlight.
POLTERGEIST (1982) starring Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling
Carol Anne Freeling doesn’t know how she can talk to the TV people - but she can and does in this CLG touchstone film. Almost as creepy as Carol Anne’s pajama-clad body is Carol Anne’s disembodied voice after she’s been sucked into her closet and taken to the “other side.” Stay away from the light, Carol Anne! And tell your dad to stop hawking real estate that doesn’t belong to him.
Message: 2 hours of TV a day - and not one minute more.
RETURN TO OZ (1985) starring Fairuza Balk as Dorothy Gale
Although the entire Creepy Girl Film genre can be traced - from kitten to vixen to vamp - in the work of Fairuza Balk alone - (the same might be said of Drew Barrymore), Return to Oz is a CLG film in its own right. First of all, it starts in an insane asylum, where little Dorothy stubbornly refuses to let go of Ozian delusions. Secondly, although Dorothy seems to have no interest in killing, per se, she certainly is creepy, and one doubts her sanity for the entire duration of the film - since the nurses wheel out the EST equipment just as Dorothy slips back to Oz. While obviously not as “cheery” as the original Wizard of Oz. Return to Oz features talking chickens, walking pumpkins, and a head-stealing Mombi.
Special Note: This film contains a Creepy Little Girl Bonus - Mombi I is played by an adult Sophie Ward, the Creepy Little Girl from The Haunting of Julia.
In short? L. Frank Baum on acid. A must see.
- Nuclear Girl
- Defend Yourself Against Goblins, Witches, and Crazies
- Summer Not at the Movies
- Half Blood Prince is Empire Strikes Back of Potter Movies
- Let the Right One In