As we enter the run-up to Christmas, we’re all getting ready to see and hear the excited chatter of the nation’s children as they gradually get ever more stoked on the natural high that is the season.
Letters will soon be sent off to Father Christmas, filled with the requisite lists of toys and (these days) electronic goods. Not every child gets exactly what they want, of course – that’s just life, isn’t it?
We like to look at things from a darker perspective here at This Is Horror, and that’s why it feels like exactly the right time to start up a column that digs into some of the genre’s lesser-known little killers; ones you most certainly don’t want to be around when they don’t get what they want, and others that may just put you off ever wanting to share a room with any diminutive little bundles of supposed joy.
Welcome to Terror Tots.
The history of director Dennis Dimster’s 1992 psycho-thriller Mikey is an interesting one, albeit for thoroughly upsetting reasons which we’ll get into later. Suffice to say, though, it’s quite likely that a large number of UK horror fans will never have set eyes upon it – it remains unavailable here even to this day.
The titular homicidal little shit is played by a steely-eyed Brian Bonsall, who also played the lead in the much more family-friendly (both in terms of those within the film and those watching it!) Blank Check in 1994 – and honestly, the kid does a pretty damned good job with the unsettling material.
As the film opens, Mikey finds himself getting a rather stern telling off from his mother. Irate, he does what seems to come naturally to him: he drowns his little sister in the family pool, fries his mother to death in the bathtub with a hairdryer, and then – with some Home Alone-style ball-bearing ingenuity – incapacitates his father and stoves his head in with an aluminium baseball bat. As you do.
After making up a story about a bushy-haired, moustachioed assailant in a red jacket doing the dirty work, Mikey is quickly handed over to the care of his doting new adoptive parents, the Trentons. Noticing the baseball bat in his hands, Mr. Trenton queries Mikey. “You like to pitch?” he asks. “Yeah… but I’m a better hitter,” comes the reply.
You sure are, kid.
All seems rosy enough as the family get to know each other, including Mikey learning that he seems to be somewhat of a natural at archery alongside making friends with the kid next door, Ben, and his hot sister, Jessie. But, of course, we all know that it’s the little things that gradually chip away at our sanity every day – and little Mikey just isn’t one to take it with grace when things don’t go his way.
Unfortunately for the adults around him, nobody appears to notice that they have a pint-sized, psychopathic whirlwind of ‘I’ll fucking kill you all’ in their midst before it’s far too late to stop the inevitable massacre. Soon, it’s time for this little terror to tape a few new episodes of ‘The Mikey Show’… and Mikey Likes It!
In all fairness, Mikey isn’t a poor film but suffers quite badly with pacing during the second act. The ‘Lifetime Original’ production quality doesn’t help matters much, either, but the opening and closing galleries of death are disturbing enough to get you hooked, and feel like your efforts in the middle have paid off. That’s also not to mention everyone’s second-favourite Hellraiser alum, Ashley Laurence, making things easy to deal with in her turn as Mikey’s teacher, Shawn.
Unfortunately for all involved, the film was withdrawn from sale in the UK in the wake of the atrocious 1993 abduction and murder of toddler James Bulger – one of the most heinous crimes of Britain’s modern history. For those unaware of the background, Bulger was taken from a crowded Liverpool shopping centre by two ten-year-old boys, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who led him over two miles away before unleashing a series of unmentionably horrific attacks against the defenceless child, eventually killing him.
In the wake of the boys’ trial and revelations of what had occurred that day, the tabloid media got wind that the father of John Venables had regularly rented horror films – including Child’s Play 3 – from his local video store, and used this to launch a new tirade against the ‘video nasties’ allegedly destroying the minds of children and turning them into murderers. Because we hadn’t already heard that whole crock of shit before.
As a result of this new media assault, the BBFC – which had previously passed Mikey uncut with an 18 certificate – demanded the return of the classification certificate from the distributor. In 1996, an attempt to have the film re-certified for release was denied. No further attempts have been made since.
The reasoning behind the 1996 refusal is unknown, and hard to fathom given the interim release of subject matter such as 1993’s Macaulay Culkin-as-a-killer-kid entry The Good Son. Still, Mikey probably wouldn’t fare well beyond its worth as a niche curio in today’s market, being the definite product of its time that it is, and thus very few distributors are likely to be wanting to sit this particular child down in front of the BBFC once more.
DVD releases can be had from various foreign markets, however, if you’re sufficiently intrigued as to what inviting this particular little nightmare into your home might offer.
It would most likely involve a baseball bat.
And the lasting desire to never, ever adopt.
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