Another summer vacation is mercifully defunct--the stridulating small fry now swimming in their schools of lower learning, leaving our streets safe for adults. Still, one pities them their thankless plight. The "innocence" of adolescence is a lie: A Wasteland populated equally by testosterone-poisoned, pint-sized pervs and their hapless, victim-peers. Let us celebrate its horrors with these corrupted-childhood classics:
The Bad Seed (1956)-The evil-youth theme gets the corn-fed Hollywood treatment through tiny Patty McCormack's role as the eight-year-old Midwestern murderess Rhoda. Eileen Heckart, repeating her stage role, is stunning in her consummate, drunken-neighbor cameo.
Pixote (1981)-No accident Nick Cave dedicated his Tender Prey album to the explosive title character, a chilling, skull-eyed, 10-year-old thief, pimp, and killer. The brilliant child-actor Fernando Ramos da Silva--in actuality one of Brazil's three million homeless kids--was offed by the Sao Paulo pigs after the film was made. Brilliant.
The Reflecting Skin (1991)-Leave it to a foreigner (director Philip Ridley, writer of The Krays) to nail homespun American family values to the barn door with such dreamy power. In a sun-kissed, silken nightmare, little farmboy Seth watches his sanity go up in flames.
Come and See (1985)--There are sentimental-shit war films as-seen-through-little-eyes (Empire of the Sun, Hope and Glory, Au Revoir les Enfants), and there are bolder ones (Forbidden Games, and The Tin Drum). Nothing tops Elem Klimov's shocking, poetic masterpiece. A Soviet Belorussian child shows us the German invasion of 1943. Go ahead and cry, baby.