Once they made us feel for their terror-filled eyes, or chilled our bones with their (mainly) evil ways. Now? They’ve all grown up and moved on to other things. In the spirit of impending Halloween, we thought it time to catch up with Hollywood’s most haunted kids and take a look at them now.
Film: The Sixth Sense (1999)
Then: He saw dead people as the literally haunted tyke Cole Sear, who brought messages from spirits and (spoiler alert for the three people who still don’t know this) figured out Bruce Willis’ big secret. Outside of M. Night Shyamalan’s classic chiller, he also played a robo-boy in Spielberg’s A.I. and debuted as Forrest Gump’s son.
Now: He’s more menacing since puberty, but Osment is still acting. He took some time off to attend New York University’s Tisch School Of The Arts but is back with several projects including Amazon’s Alpha House, comedy miniseries The Spoils Of Babylon, Max Landis’ Me Him Her and Kevin Smith’s walrus horror Tusk. So he’s not done scaring us yet…
Film: The Ring (2002)
Then: She creeped us all out by clambering from a well – and a telly – in the US remake of Ringu. Chase was so frightening, in fact, that she herself covers her eyes whenever she watches the film. She also cropped up in a less terrifying role as the voice of Lilo in Lilo & Stitch.
Now: These days her hair care regime is a lot more stringent and she has model looks that wouldn’t make you run for the hills. She’s normally to be found in indie movies, appearing in S. Darko as Samantha, and is at work on a thriller called American Romance. The well she crawled out of retirement to a farm in Upstate New York, where it is waiting for another small child and works part time as a historical monument.
Film: The Omen (1976)
Then: Harvey Stephens was the original Damien, the cursed child of the devil with the interesting scalp mark and the bad attitude towards anyone who tried to stop his pop’s devious plans. Stephens, who was four at the time, apparently got the role because he punched director Richard Donner (at the director's request; he’s not a psychopath). That was the only major role he took aside from a TV movie.
Now: Stephens popped up in 2006 in John Moore’s remake of The Omen in the blink-and-you’ll miss him role of a tabloid journalist. He’s given interviews about the movie and was touting a possible film in 2008, but nothing seems to have come of it.
Film: The Exorcist (1976)
Then: Pea soup puke. Head twisting. Crucifix… manipulating. There are few horror kids as iconic as Linda Blair’s Regan MacNeill. Seared on to the eye sockets of film watchers thanks to The Exorcist and, to a lesser extent, Exorcist II: The Heretic, she was Oscar nominated for the role.
Now: After some legal troubles in the 1970s, she continues to work fairly solidly, spoofing her most famous role in 1990’s Repossessed and specialising in low-budget horror movies. She also played a police woman in an episode of Supernatural that ended with the leads heading off for some refreshing pea soup.
Film: Child's Play (1988)
Then: It can’t be much fun to be upstaged by a smart-mouthed, psychotic doll, but Alex Vincent hasn’t complained much about it since Child’s Play. He played the original Andy Barclay and survived to show up again in Child’s Play 2 and 3.
Now: After one or two other roles, Vincent now makes his living as a sound engineer, though he has more recently been acting, writing and composing for the screen. He’s back as Andy for a cameo in Curse Of Chucky, which director Don Mancini talked about on the podcast right here.
Film: Pet Semetary (1989)
Then: As Gage Creed, the kiddie from Pet Sematary, Hughes came back… changed. As in, murderous and evil. Still, that didn’t hold him back from a career in Hollywood (it’s encouraged) and he went on to appear in Kindergarten Cop, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Spawn, Mercury Rising and Baby Geniuses, among others.
Now: Hughes is still working, if a little more sporadically. He popped up for an uncredited role in Tropic Thunder and worked on horror pic Remains. He’s also directed one short in portmanteau pic Chilling Visions: 5 Senses Of Fear. Horror… You never can quite escape it, can you? BTW: Church, the resurrected cat from Sematary, is now a wedding DJ working under the name Paws The Music.
Film: Poltergeist (1982)
Then: Everyone knows, tragically, what happened to Poltergeist’s Heather O’Rourke, who played Carol Anne Freeling and died at the tender age of 12. But what of her screen brother? Robbins was Robbie, who was also haunted by the spirits. As well as appearing with his Polter-family in the follow-up (though he skipped the third) Robins cropped up in Airplane II: The Sequel.
Now: Robins all but stopped acting after Poltergeist II. He switched his attention instead to writing and directing such films as Eating L.A., Wild Roomies and Man Overboard.
Film: The Shining (1980)
Then: Stanley Kubrick famously kept the fact that The Shining was a horror movie a secret from the six-year-old playing Danny Torrance. He was picked largely because he could concentrate for long periods, which must have appealed to the pernickety director.
Now: Aside from a couple of small roles, Lloyd abandoned acting and took up teaching. In 2007 he became professor of biology at a Kentucky community college. We’re hoping his employers told him he was going to be lecturing when he got the job.
Film: Cujo (1983)
Then: Being terrorised by a rabid dog in Cujo must’ve been quite an eye-opening experience for a first film. Happily, Pintauro survived the experience (fortunately, the St. Bernard was only acting rabid, having trained at Julliard).
Now: The actor was able to move on to a career of mostly guest roles, aside from a long stretch on US sitcom Who’s The Boss. Interestingly, he dealt with star Tony Danza in much the same way as he was taught to respond to the dog in Cujo.