The people who make horror movies really know how to get to the root of our fears and of course, that makes sense because scaring the wits out of us is their bread and butter. Whether they’re playing on our deep insecurities about own lives or bringing our darkest nightmares to life, we can’t get enough of horror movies. The truth is that we love the feeling of being afraid, it’s thrilling and gets our blood pumping, but we also want to feel that way in a safe environment i.e half hiding under the blanket in our bed at home.
Now we all have our favorites when it comes to horror movies, some of us enjoy supernatural or religious themed stories while others like slasher or gore flicks, but I think we can all agree that when child actors appear in horror movies it makes them even more terrifying. Maybe it’s because we associate children with innocence so seeing one possessed by demons or climbing out of a tv screen really grabs our attention.
But what has become of the child stars who played these spine-chilling roles in the past? Let’s look at some of the actors from iconic horror movies like The Shining, The Exorcist, and The Ring, and find out what became of these young stars…
15. The Omen – Harvey Spencer Stephens
Harvey Spencer Stephens, now 46, only ever acted in one film, but it was so scary that we still can’t forget him. Harvey played the role of Damien in the original version of The Omen (1976). He was just four years old when he was chosen to play the role of the evil little boy and became very famous following the film’s success. He would often appear at promotional events and horror movie conventions on his tricycle – how creepy is that? But The Omen was his first and last movie.
He appeared briefly in the news earlier this year when he was arrested for a road rage incident in which he repeatedly punched two cyclists. He received a suspended sentence and was forced to pay compensation for the victims as well as attend anger management classes.
14. Pet Sematary – Miko Hughes
Miko John Hughes started his movie career at the age of three when he played Gage Creed in Pet Sematary (1989). Since then he’s also played in Apollo 13, Mercury Rising, and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. You might also remember him from his recurring role as Aaron on Full House between 1990 and 1995. He’s also appeared in numerous TV shows such as Baywatch, Beverly Hills 90210, Touched by an Angel, The Nanny, and Melrose Place. In 1995, at the age of nine, Hughes, who is also a talented musician, released two albums, featuring songs he wrote himself.
He took a brief break in his acting career before playing a teenager in the sci-fi series Roswell. His last film credit was in 2011 when he played Jensen in the post-apocalyptic horror flick Steve Niles’ Remains.
13. Poltergeist- Heather O’Rourke
Steven Spielberg discovered Heather O’Rourke while she was visiting MGM’s studios with her family and cast her as Carol Anne Freeling in his 1982 horror film Poltergeist. Before her movie role her family had been struggling financially and living in a trailer park, but her success helped them all improve their lives and buy a new home. She’s remembered for having the film’s most recognizable line “They’re here!”
Heather reprised her role as Carol Anne for the second and third instalment of the movie franchise and also had a recurring role on the show Happy Days. Sadly this fledgling actress never got to live to her full potential. She died tragically at the age of 12 after suffering septic shock caused by intestinal stenosis. She may be gone, but she’s definitely not forgotten.
12. Orphan – Isabelle Fuhrman
Isabelle (now 20) appeared in her first movie, Hounddog, at the age of 10 and during the same year she was chosen to play the lead role in the horror flick Orphan, alongside Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard. She auditioned for the role of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games but because she was only 15 years old at the time she was deemed too young for the role and it went to Jennifer Lawrence instead. However, she was called back to audition for the role of Clove and got the part.
Fuhrman’s latest movie, Hellbent, is still in post-production. The film follows the story of a girl traveling across the country with a fugitive, trying to find her father. A release date for the film has not yet been announced.
11. Children Of The Corn – John Franklin
John Franklin is best remembered for playing Isaac Chroner in the 1984 film, Children of the Corn and Cousin Itt in The Addams Family. Franklin was born with a growth hormone deficiency and as a result, he is under 5ft tall. John started his career doing commercials and was picked up for Children of the Corn a year later. The role jumpstarted his acting career, but following 9/11 Franklin decided to return to teaching because he felt that acting was “too shallow”.
At the end of 2016 Franklin, who is now 58, announced that he was retiring from teaching. He explained that he wanted to reprise his career as a writer and actor and concentrate on creative projects. He is currently working on several projects, including a fiction novel.
10. Case 39 – Jodelle Ferland
Jodelle started her career doing commercials at the age of two and by the time she was 4 she had already made for film debut in the TV film Mermaid. She received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for this role which made her the youngest nominee in Emmy history. She’s made several guest appearances on TV shows such as Dark Angel, Smallville, and Supernatural, and has played in a number of horror films. Her roles include Sharon/Alessa in Silent Hill, Lillith Sullivan in Case 39, Patience Buckner in The Cabin in the Woods, and Jenny in The Tall Man.
9. The Shining – Lisa and Louise Burns
Lisa and Louise Burns played the part of the two creepy twins in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining in 1980. Time hasn’t made this masterpiece any less scary and most of us still have an unnatural fear of somehow finding these girls at the end of a passage!
In a recent interview with The Daily Mail, Lisa and Louise (now both 48 years old) spoke about how much they enjoyed their once in a lifetime Hollywood gig and how Jack Nicholson acted as a mentor for them. But according to them, the movie did more harm than good to their acting careers and they were turned down by numerous acting schools simply because they had appeared in a horror movie. Today Lisa is a lawyer and Louise is a published scientist.
8. Child’s Play – Alex Vincent
Alex Vincent is best remembered for his role as Andy Barclay in the Child’s Play franchise. He appeared in Child’s Play, Child’s Play 2, Curse of Chucky, and most recently, Cult of Chucky which was released in 2017.
Vincent was just five years old when he was cast to star in Child’s Play, a movie about a dead serial killer who possesses the body of a toy, which ends up in Andy’s home. After appearing in the first two films, Vincent quit acting and tried to live down the image of a child star, but two years later he decided to give it another go. Sadly his career just didn’t take off again. He went to 15 auditions and was turned down for every single one.
7. The Ring – Daveigh Chase
2002 was a hugely successful year for young actress Daveigh Chase. She starred as Samara in The Ring, a role that gave many of us sleepless nights and won her the Best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards. Incredibly the young actress beat out veteran actors like Mike Myers, Colin Farrell, Willem Dafoe and Daniel Day-Lewis to win this award! In the same year, she voiced the character of Lilo in Lilo & Stitch which netted her the Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role: Age 10 or Under at the Young Artists Awards.
6. The Exorcist – Linda Blair
Can you believe that the terrifying, foul talking, head-spinning, little girl from The Exorcist is now almost 60? It’s funny how some movies turn out to be almost timeless and this film was certainly one of them.
In the early 1970’s Linda was chosen from a pool of over 600 girls to play the role of Regan in The Exorcist. This role earned her a People’s Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination.
She’s done a lot with her life since she played this iconic role; she co-wrote a lifestyle book, became an animal rights activist and continued to act in TV and film, although we’ll always remember her as the little girl who played with the Ouija board and got possessed by demons.
5. The Ring – David Dorfman
When we think of The Ring we tend to remember the character of Samara as the one who gave us nightmares but the little boy Aiden was just as freaky. The role of Aiden was played by David Dorfman and he might just be the biggest success story on this list.
David is not just a talented actor, he’s super brainy too. He’s so smart that he was admitted to study at UCLA when he was just 13 years old – talk about a prodigy! Oh, and he graduated at age 18 as valedictorian and was admitted to Harvard Law School.
He’s also appeared in a number of other films such as Panic, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Drillbit Taylor, and made numerous appearances on TV shows. If this is what he’s done by the age of 24 we can’t wait to see what this talented young man is planning next!
4. The Shining – Danny Lloyd
Danny Lloyd was just six years old when he was chosen to play the role of Danny Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. He was selected due to his ability to concentrate for long periods of time, quite a unique trait among six-year-old children! What you may not know is that the young Danny didn’t realize that he was acting in a horror movie. Kubrick was able to film all his scenes without letting on the true nature of the film, instead leading Danny to believe that the film was a drama about a family staying at a hotel out of season.
3. The Grudge – Yuya Ozeki
Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with Japanese horror films (and their remakes) because although I thoroughly enjoy them, I usually end up sleeping with the light on for a week after watching them. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who feels this way.
If you like movies with scary kids then The Grudge is probably one of your favorites, with Yuya Ozeki playing the role of a ghost boy named Toshio. This young actor also played the role in the original Japanese versions of the film. He had a cat phobia on set which made filming some of the cat scenes a little difficult, but the film turned out to be a huge commercial success.
2. Dark Water – Ariel Gade
Ariel Gade appeared in her first movie at the age of four when she played Ben Stiller’s daughter in the film Envy. This was a supporting role, but it led to her being cast the play one of the main characters in the 2005 horror film Dark Water. In the film, she plays the part of Ceci, a little girl who is haunted by the ghost of a girl who drowned in her apartment building. She’s also appeared in Invasion as Rose Varon, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and Call of the Wild.
Her most recent role was in Some Guy Who Kills People which came out in 2011. The young actress, now 20, decided to retire from acting following this movie in order to concentrate on school and family.
1. The Sixth Sense – Haley Joel Osment
Osment’s spectacular performance as Cole Sear, the unwilling child medium, in The Sixth Sense, had us all glued to our screens. This wasn’t his first appearance on the big screen, but it was the role that helped him achieve stardom. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Cole which made him the second-youngest performer ever to receive an Academy nomination for a supporting role and the first millennial male actor to receive an Academy Award nomination.
Osment went on to appear in a number of films, including A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Pay It Forward as well as TV shows. The actor, now 29, most recently appeared in the 2017 comedy film Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town.
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