Ok, voted for my picks...and here's why. Linda Blair in the Exorcist, come on. Hands down the winner to me, and at her age? Fantastic job in that movie.
Heather O'Rourke hits me hard. She was great in the Poltergeist movies which I saw in my younger formative years of horror watching, and her dying at such a young age sucks. Love her for sentimental reasons.
Harvey Spencer Stephens...never really knew his name until now, lol. But he was great in The Omen. The loving little boy one minute and then the maniacal hell beast the next. The way he rides his big wheel through the hall knowing all the while what he intends to do when he knocks his Mom over the balcony, then the knowing stare after. Plus, that smirk.
Noah Wiseman made people want to strangle him in The Babadook, I wanted to strangle him. But, it takes a lot of skill to play being scared and nuts convincingly, and he did that. And at a very young age. I like that movie, and I don't think it would have been the same with someone else in his role. He earned the hate, lol.
Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed. Great movie there too. It was kind of shocking to see how vicious and murderous a little girl could be in this movie, especially considering the movie is from 1956. She did a great job in the role and came off very believable. I need to get a copy of this one.
I think there is another young actor, actors actually, they're twins, that deserve some recognition.
Chris and Martin Udvarnoky from the 1972 movie The Other based on the book by Tomas Tryon. No jump scares, no in your face horror just a series of events that occur that get darker and darker. You think you know why but hope you're wrong. Then it all comes out. Tough role for a kid to play, or kids I should say. But both do it great. It's one of my favorite movies that not many know about, not a big name cast (look for a young John Ritter). But it's pretty good.
Anyway, that's my votes. Can't wait to see others!
I feel a little bad because I haven't seen a couple of the movies starring some of the child actors in the above list so I may have overlooked better performances. That said...
1. Patty McCormack - The Bad Seed. Little pinafore dresses, pretty braids and a cherubic smile, what's not to love about this sweet little angel? "Mother, what would you give me for a basket of kisses?" But inside beat the heart of a cold-blooded psycho. She didn't need Hollywood special FX horror makeup to achieve a chilling effect, Rhoda was twisted into something completely evil in her soul. Maximum creepiness.
2. Haley Joel-Osmet - The Sixth Sense. I think he did a very believable job as a boy being haunted by horrible visions. "I see dead people." He may not have been a scary character, but he made you feel his terror and that's some good acting.
3. I think I may have a thing for cherub faced children who are shockingly evil inside. I'm adding Kirsten Dunst as Claudia the child vampire in Interview With A Vampire. It may not have been the best horror movie, but as child actors go, she did a very good job portraying an innocent child cruelly damned to spend eternity as an insatiable, bloodthirsty predator.
4. Harvey Spencer Stephens - The Omen. "Look at me Damien, it's all for you." How creepy was that kid, his facial expressions alone gave me chills. I hope he was only acting because no little kid should be able to portray such a sinister character!
5. Linda Blair, yeah I know I put her last, but a lot of what scared me was the special FX and Mercedes McCambridge's voice overs. Don't get me wrong, I think she was good, but I don't know if she would have been as effective without all the help.
Oh, I get you occupant. Without Dick Smith and his effects, The Exorcist and Linda Blair wouldn't been able to pull off half the scares it did. I think for me, it was just the perfect combination. I just always thought for a kid that age to go through filming a movie like that, man that was a tough, and probably scary job even though it was all a movie.
But,you could have probably plugged any other kid actor in her role and it would have been just as good. Just associate it with her.
Haley Joel Osment was awesome in The Sixth Sense, felt really scared for him watching it. I'd say it was the role of his career really.
Good picks!. We watched the 2018 version of The Bad Seed with Rob Lowe last night, and it wasn't bad. Couldn't touch the original though.