There are many different phobias related to babies, infants, and children. Sufferers might be scared of having children or worried that they’ll be unable to care for them or just afraid of the sounds they make or the way they look. For many, these fears appear irrational since babies are harmless. But what about those who are not harmless? In cinema and on television, we have seen countless creepy babies over the years. In most cases, these horrifying little babies are mutated in some way, appearing much more disgusting than the average baby. Sometimes, it’s the way they move or act that scares us. This is a list full of horrifying babies (and infants) of all types. The one thing that each of these babies has in common is that they terrify us.
There’s something especially frightening about a freaky-looking baby. If it came down to it, a monstrous baby would be a lot easier to dispose of than a fully grown monster, so it’s not the fight that worries us. Or is it? Plenty of us are afraid of rats because they’re so small and quick. Maybe the fear is a result of the subversion of the perfect image we have of babies in our minds. Sure, not everyone thinks babies are cute. But most people see the concept of childbirth as something pretty remarkable. When a film or TV show twists and contorts this into something frightening, it affects us in a powerful way. Whatever the reason, we acknowledge that there is something about a weird-looking baby that works. So why not run down the list of the most terrifying babies from the screen? Here is Brephophobia: The 15 Most Horrifying Babies in Film and TV History.
15. Ethan – Cold Mountain
The baby in Cold Mountain doesn’t make this list because it’s demonic or zombified or even deformed. It makes the list because, in the arms of its mother, the character played by Natalie Portman, this thing is a gigantic monster. Obviously, the filmmakers couldn’t get a proper newborn, so they went with what appears to be a five-year-old, trying to pull the wool over our eyes. We’re shown this petite Portman holding a gigantic mass of chub of flub. Maybe the scariest thing of all as regards this baby is the image we’re forced to conceive of a woman Portman’s size actually trying to birth this 45-pound child. When she holds it up next her, we see that the child is roughly her size. Okay, maybe not exactly. The baby probably has bigger arms, but close enough. We can suspend disbelief and watch a film about aliens and demons but don’t you dare ask us to believe this tiny woman could release a beast like that from her body.
14. Gage Creed – Pet Sematary
Technically, Gage was a toddler in Pet Sematary because he was just over two years old, but we could never leave this little guy off this list. Next to the monster baby in It’s Alive, Gage is the only entrant on this list that is a main character. Similarly, and more importantly, Gage is a true antagonist in the film. For that, he gets bonus points. He’s also terrifying. Cute as a button when he’s the normal, living Gage. However, he’s the stuff of nightmares when he comes back from the dead. After being run over by a transport truck, Gage is revived by the power of the pet cemetery and he comes back different. And we’re not just talking about that gnarly scar on his head. Gage comes back with a desire to kill everyone and he tries to do just that. With a scalpel in hand, this kid slices his way through the Creed family and their neighbor, Judd. With that laugh and the barely legible babbling, Gage made an entire generation think twice before having children.
13. Monster Baby – It’s Alive
The monster baby in It’s Alive is a national treasure. We don’t often get films about murderous babies, so when we do, we have to celebrate them. This little guy was born deformed, with fangs, claws, a big ol’ head, and a seriously jacked upper body. Basically, as soon as this guy gets out of that womb, he starts killing. In its defense, the doctor trying to smother it was a bit out of line, so things got off to a rough start for this little baby. The practical effects from the ’70s really brought to life some frightening creations, maybe none more so than this baby. To our eyes now, it doesn’t look real, but it is bulbous and exaggerated and sticky-looking. That might be more frightening that an accurate model would be.
12. Baby Freddy – A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Freddy Krueger as a man is a walking nightmare. But, if you can imagine it, he’s even worse as a baby. In A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, we’re shown a dream sequence in which Freddy is born. After Freddy’s mother, Amanda Krueger, was r*ped by a room full of mental patients, she gives birth to hideously deformed version of Freddy. We watch this gross little guy escape from the birthing room and then work his way to the church to transform into the real Freddy. For the first time in the franchise, we were actually relieved to see Freddy in his true form because that little monster was too much to handle. Those little gangly arms and that rotund little belly were sickening.
11. Normal Babies? – Knocked Up and Rocky Balboa
This is a twofer because both these babies were sold to us as normal, but we’re not being fooled that easily. First, in Rocky II, Rocky and Adrian have a baby boy. When this monster comes out, it says hello to the world with thickest rug of black hair you will ever see. Looking like a newborn Eugene Levy, this thing immediately turns what we thought was a sports drama into a horror film. Although we can’t see the backside of the child, we just know that this black carpet drapes all the way down his back like an Italian hedgehog. Rocky must then choose if he should defeat this demon while it’s still weak or wait until it grows up and comes for him. The other baby is from Knocked Up. As Ben and Alison sit in the waiting room of their doctor’s office, a stranger’s ugly baby turns and looks at Ben. In what appears to be a nightmare sequence at first, this freakishly formed baby reaches out to grab Ben. As it trembles and grasps with its rangy claw hands and stares on with those bulging eyes, we’re immediately transported into Ben’s shoes as a terrified soon-to-be parent.
10. Zombie Baby – Dawn of The Dead
As soon as we were introduced to Luda, the pregnant woman in Dawn of the Dead, a zombie movie, we all knew that we were going to see a zombie baby at some point. We did and it was worth the wait. After being scratched and turned to a zombie, Luda is tied up before she gives birth. We aren’t told or shown what the baby looks like right away. The group who watched the birth get into a shootout, which leaves every one of them dead. When the other group come to investigate, they find a bundle of joy in Andre’s dead arms. As the blanket is lifted from the baby’s face, we see that it is dead. Nope! ALIVE! Well, undead actually. It screams and lunges a little, looks awesome and all zombified, but it’s shot and killed easily.
9. Dawn – Trainspotting
Watching Trainspotting is an uncomfortable experience. Unless you’re familiar with the trashy lifestyle portrayed in the film, it is a shock to the system to see it up close. Nothing in the film, except for maybe climbing into that disgusting toilet, is more terrifying than when Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) is tweaking and that damn baby comes in, crawling along the ceiling. It’s creepy for a number of reasons. For one, the baby is a weird animatronic thing that looks and moves in unnatural ways. Two, the baby turns its goddamn head around 180 degrees like The Exorcist. Three, well, the baby’s on the frickin’ ceiling. Add in the baby’s death as a result of neglect and her entire role in the film is a scary.
8. Baby Dren – Splice
When Dren, the odd creature from Splice, grows up, she’s weirdly attractive, which is difficult to accept because she’s not human. But there’s no difficulty in making a statement about Dren when she’s a baby. She’s disgusting. She looks like a hairless rat, with nubby arms and a butt crack down the middle of her face. You know, we’re all for wild artistic creations, but what the hell were they thinking of when they designed this freak? At least when she ages, Dren’s face crack seals up a bit so we’re not confronted with that image the entire film. Even though we might be mostly horrified for all the wrong reasons, Dren makes the list. After all, who would ever want to come face-to-face with this thing?
7. Renesmee – Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2
In the final cut of Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2, we were introduced to Bella and Edward’s baby, Renesmee. This thing was off-putting because it was made with the worst CGI imaginable. However, that’s not even the version of the baby that we put on this list. The baby in the picture is the animatronic version of the child that was originally planned to be in the film. This monstrosity was named Chuckesmee because it was what was so unsettling for everyone who saw it. Seriously, who would have ever believed that was a real baby? It’s massive eyes and flabby neck skin made it look like a demon. Was that the point? Like in the books, was the baby meant to look different because it was a vampire or whatever? Actually, you know what? Forget we even asked. We don’t care. Chuckesmee was scrapped and they threw together a CGI baby that looks less realistic than the dancing baby from ’90s.
6. Leonard – The X-Files “Humbug”
OK, so technically, Leonard isn’t a baby. He’s an underdeveloped conjoined twin, but we’re going to count him as such because he never grew up. The X-Files was known for making some of the strangest stories, but “Humbug” is high on the list of crazy. This one revolves around a slew of mystery killings in a “Freak Show.” The killer turns out to be Leonard who is the underdeveloped conjoined twin or Lanny. Since Lanny is slowly killing himself with alcohol, Leonard removes himself from Lanny’s body (seriously, we couldn’t make this stuff up) and attacks others, always looking for a better host. When Leonard is off the body, hell, even when he’s on the body, he’s a terrible sight to behold. Not a baby, but one of the most frightening baby-like things you’ll see onscreen.
5. The Devil’s Child – Passion of the Christ
In the scene from Passion of the Christ, as Jesus is scourged by the Romans, the anti-Christ, or devil or Satan or whatever you want to call her/it, walks through the crowd. When Satan reaches an opening, we see that she is carrying what appears to be a baby. In truth, she is carrying Davide Marotta, an Italian actor with Dwarfism. But the image is meant to recall images of a mother and child, albeit subverted and perverted. Here’s what the director, Mel Gibson, said about the scene, “It’s evil distorting what is good. What is more tender and beautiful than a mother and child? So the Devil takes that and distorts it just a little bit. Instead of a normal mother and child you have an androgynous figure holding a 40-year-old ‘baby’ with hair on his back. It is weird, it is shocking, it’s almost too much – just like turning Jesus over to continue scourging Him on His chest is shocking and almost too much, which takes place the exact moment when this appearance of the Devil and the baby takes place.”
4. Baby Selwyn – Braindead/Dead Alive
If you’re a fan of zombie movies or splatter films, you’ll know of Braindead/Dead Alive, Peter Jackson‘s incredibly fun film about Lionel and his quest to keep on living a normal life despite the growing zombie infestation. In his efforts to keep everyone happy, we get one of the greatest scenes ever shot and easily the best in this wonderful film. As Lionel takes the zombified Selwyn baby for a walk, things go downhill quickly for him as the freaky little thing gets loose from his carriage and starts running amok. Lionel, in his efforts to save the park folks, tries to wrangle in the disgusting baby. The beauty of the scene is that Lionel doesn’t do this gently. As horrified witnesses watch on, Lionel punches, throws, and abuses this zombie in the worst ways, smashing to the ground and full out fighting it. All the while, the others in the park think this is a normal baby. This was the last scene shot for the movie and is Jackson’s favorite in the entire film, for good reason.
3. Brundle Baby – The Fly
For fans of science fiction horror, The Fly will always be considered one of the greatest films ever made. The effects in this film were way ahead of their time. Some of the practical effects are still disgusting to see today. One scene in particular, the maggot baby scene, is tough to watch. All those fluids, that stickiness, the sounds, it’s all troubling. After Ronnie (Geena Davis) finds out she’s pregnant, she becomes worried because she doesn’t know if the child was conceived before or after Brundle’s (Jeff Goldblum) teleportation. In her paranoia, she has a nightmare that she gives birth to a giant maggot. Virtually all of the film’s final action is a result of Brundle trying to stop Ronnie from aborting this baby in fears that the maggot dream will come true. The disgustingness of this maggot baby is also what makes us root so hard for her.
2. Satan’s Child – Rosemary’s Baby
Of all the babies on this list, the titular Rosemary’s Baby is the only one we never set eyes on. After Rosemary is seemingly raped and impregnated by a mysterious force, she eventually gives birth. After the child is born, Rosemary awakes and approaches the bassinette to see what she has brought forth. In a room full of old folks, she peeks in and then quickly recoils in horror. She pleads, “What have you done to it? What have you done to its eyes?” It’s then that we hear the baby described. It “has his father’s eyes,” they tell us. Rosemary is also told to “look at his hands” and “his feet” which provides our imaginations with enough information to crate an image. The effect on the audience during this scene is incredible. If you were to ask someone who hasn’t seen the film in some time what Rosemary’s baby looked like, you might hear things like “red eyes,” “hoofed hands,” or even “clawed hands.” Many believe that they were shown the baby. That’s how effective the scene was. Without showing the baby at all, we get a terrifying image of Satan’s son in that black bassinette.
1. The Deformed Baby – Eraserhead
How David Lynch went about creating the nightmare baby in Eraserhead has never been discovered, but the result was horrible. Some persistent rumors have suggested it was made with an embalmed fetus of a calf or rabbit or sheep. Others say it was something else entirely. Obviously, the film has the theme of fear of fatherhood embedded throughout it. Lynch’s own daughter, Jennifer, was born with clubbed feet, and some have suggested that this deformed baby is the embodiment of a parent’s fear that their child might not be “normal.” Whatever the hell this creation is, the thing we see on screen is disgusting. It looks alien and almost impossible to understand.