The early 1990’s brought about a wave of terrible ideas and even more terrible movies to the horror genre. Studios were pumping out subpar sequels to successful franchises from the 1980’s that would bomb at the box office and alienate their once loyal fans. Movies like Child’s Play 3, Freddy’s Dead, Jason Goes to Hell, and Omen IV would destroy their respective franchises until reboots would eventually revive them by presenting new ideas to these stale franchises. The early 90’s was by all accounts a horrible time for horror movies - what worked in the 80’s was not working anymore and studios were left with many more questions than answers.
In need of fresh ideas to revitalize a stalling genre, studios made their horror franchises more outlandish (Leprechaun, Carnosaur), more gory (Hellraiser, Dead Alive), and pushed the boundaries of taste further than ever before. This is when we got the brief resurgence of one of the weirdest sub-genres to the horror genre: the killer kid movie.
The killer kid movie was not a new phenomenon to the 90’s: The Bad Seed (1956), Village of the Damned (1960), The Omen (1976), Children of the Corn (1984) and many other proceeded their resurgence in the early 1990’s but nothing compares to the level of depravity we experienced during this “renaissance”. While most of these movies from past decades dealt with the idea of kids being complicit in murder they were almost always portrayed as being controlled by an outside/supernatural force. The killer kids movies in the 1990’s dealt with something we had rarely seen before - the killer is inside the suburban home and a product of a troubled childhood.
Mikey (1992), The Good Son (1993), and The Paperboy (1994) are all examples of the 90’s killer kid movie resurgence. Each one of these films deals with children who are the product of troubled homes, like violent movies, and as a result of their surroundings and mental issues have become cold blooded killers.
Mikey is what I would consider the pinnacle of bad taste in killer kid movies. While The Good Son and The Paperboy certainly have their camp factors, they simply don’t compare to the level of debauchery featured in Mikey. Not only does Mikey kill, he revels in it, he plans his attacks and he even cracks jokes before committing the crimes - imagine The Omen if Damien had used Stallone-style one-liners.
The audience can never quite tell if this is all meant as a joke or if it’s supposed to be taken seriously - we have comical one-liners punctuated by gruesome deaths and solemn reflections; what are we supposed to feel? The sum of its parts is an amazing train wreck that simply has to be seen to be believed.
Our goal at the Grindbin is to explore the sub-genres of films that created some of the most bizarre and unsettling experiences that exploitation film has to offer; Mikey is certainly one of them.