Left to right: 'The Exorcist' (1973), 'The Omen' (1976), 'Village of the Damned' (1960)

Everybody loves evil children! Judging from its trailer, the wide release of The Unborn this weekend promises to unleash a new terrifying tot upon a nation of unsuspecting teens. But the idea of scary juveniles extends far beyond the expected audience for David Goyer's jolt-fest.

One writer suggested that the idea of evil children originated "in the biblical tale of Elisha's mockery," in which 42 small boys disrespected a prophet of God -- and were promptly torn to pieces by two bears. The silver screen featured dozens of bratty kids in the 30s and 40s (e.g. the Dead End Kids/Bowery Boys) but none as murderously terrifying as 10-year-old Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) in Mervyn LeRoy's The Bad Seed (1956), a rebel yell against a conformist generation of "perfect" suburban families.

The 50s also produced Jerome Bixby's short story "It's a Good Life," featuring a three-year-old with more super powers than anyone at Marvel or DC could dream up. First adopted as an episode of The Twilight Zone (with Billy Mummy), Joe Dante added layers of suburban subversion when he used it as the basis for his segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie (with Jeremy Licht as the kid).

Which tots, tykes, and teens have terrified you? Here's my personal countdown of evil children that have inspired nightmares or, at least, made me shiver.

7. Darby O'Gill and the Little People

I was five or six years old and had never seen little people before -- I freaked out because I couldn't understand why kids my age had wrinkles and beards, and were dancing and drinking liquids my Dad said never to touch. The wailing banshee gave me nightmares, but those little people made my hair stand up.

categories Cinematical