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Watch the spinechilling trailer for Hereditary ‘2018’s scariest film’

PUBLISHED: 10:42 02 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:42 02 February 2018

Chocky: Mum had just about had enough of Matthew talking in binary numbers - why couldn't he just slam doors like a normal teenager? (C) HTV

Chocky: Mum had just about had enough of Matthew talking in binary numbers - why couldn't he just slam doors like a normal teenager? (C) HTV

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Critics at the Sundance festival called Hereditary ‘the scariest horror movie in years’ and this trailer certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. With a creepy child at its dark heart, we look at the scariest children’s TV shows while we wait for the film’s release date.

The Box of Delights: The wolves are running, Master Harker. And they're suspended in space, too, which is a worry (C) BBCThe Box of Delights: The wolves are running, Master Harker. And they're suspended in space, too, which is a worry (C) BBC

Creepy horror Hereditary has been hailed one of the scariest films ever after it left critics terrified at the Sundance Film Festival.

Starring Muriel’s Wedding star Toni Collette as grief-stricken mother Annie Graham, Hereditary follows the nightmares that afflict a family after the death of Annie’s mother, Ellen who doesn’t, it must be said, exactly rest in peace.

Hollywood Reporter called the film “arguable the most effective domestic horror chiller since The Conjuring and The Babadook, there are nods to Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining and The Miniaturist, the latter involving amazing miniature houses and figures made by Collette’s character. Gabriel Byrne is Annie’s husband Steve and there’s stoner teenager Peter (Alex Wolff) and creepy 13-year-old Charlie (Milly Shapiro) who likes to draw angry things in notebooks and to decapitate pigeons. Isn’t it embarrassing when your kids decapitate wildlife in public places? Nightmare.

We have to wait until the end of June until we can watch creepy and possessed children in Hereditary, but if you want to watch creepy children’s TV programmes to get you in the mood (why wouldn’t you want to?) might we suggest you track down old episodes of Doctor Who, The Boy from Space, The Children of Green Knowe, Escape Into Night, Moondial, The Tripods, Haunters of the Deep, The Demon Headmaster, The Legend of Tim Tyler, The Changes before heading to the suggestions below.

Children of the Stones: Father/son bonding time - next on the agenda, Morris dancing in a stone circle with 'the Happy Ones' (C) HTVChildren of the Stones: Father/son bonding time - next on the agenda, Morris dancing in a stone circle with 'the Happy Ones' (C) HTV

And after you’ve watched the Hereditary trailer and Jigsaw, answer me this: is a demonic grandmother with a grudge operating from Satan’s netherworld really as terrifying as Noseybonk? Don’t have nightmares.

Eight of the most terrifying children’s programmes

The Singing Ringing TreeThe Singing Ringing Tree

1) Children of the Stones: If you prefer your children’s teatime dramas to have a petrifying Wicker Man vibe to them, this is the show for you. Even the opening credits are terrifying with the kind of wailing, sinister choral singing you’d expect to hear in a cave at a Satanic ritual. Professor Brake and son Matthew arrive in Milbury and quickly discover that nearly all the villagers are acting strangely, calling themselves ‘the Happy Ones’ breaking into spontaneous Morris dancing and finding fun in solving eye-wateringly difficult mathematical problems. It turns out that local squire Rafael Hendrick is using the power of the local stone circle to brainwash villagers and when Brake and Matthew manage to hoodwink Hendrick into using the power on himself, everyone turns to stone. But it’s OK, because in Groundhog Day style, the next day a time loop kicks in and it all begins again. Phew.

2) Worzel Gummidge: As a child, it took me a while to realise that Gummidge was a scarecrow and not a magical, haunted itinerant with three interchangeable swede, turnip or mangel wurzel heads, a family of mice living in his chest cavity, an obsessive compulsion to eat cake and a macabre fascination with a shop dummy. I remember him dealing with a scarecrow rival by throwing him off a bridge into the path of a moving train and having a slightly disturbing catchphrase: “I’ll be bum-swizzled”. I have never taken walks in the countryside for granted since.

3) The Singing Ringing Tree: My friend Sally remains terrified by this East German ‘fairytale’ to this day and her fear prompted me to seek out a copy, which I binge-watched in a regrettable afternoon that still colours my nightmares – I was an adult, I can only begin to imagine how horrific this would have been had I been a child. The story begins with a beautiful but horrid princess rejecting a handsome prince unless he can bring her the magical singing, ringing tree which lies in an enchanted land and is guarded by a particularly malignant dwarf. The dwarf promptly turns the prince into a hideous bear from which point on, everyone in the show is either terrifyingly ugly, insane or a possessed dwarf – even better, it’s all filmed in the kind of garish technicolour that makes you wish you could only see in black and white. One to watch with your children. If you hate them.

4) Jigsaw: Specifically, Mr Noseybonk, the demonic creation of a feverish imagination who not only looked like Ronald McDonald kicked through Cyrano de Bergerac but also forced children to endure mathematics by stealth. Played by mime artist Adrian Headley, Mr Noseybonk wore a dinner jacket and a deathmask with a phallus nose as he crept around silently solving logic puzzles and quizzes. It can be no coincidence that the Saw films featured a hideous puppet called Jigsaw who resembled a nasally-castrated Mr Noseybonk and who forced people to solve logic puzzles. Jigsaw, however, was more upfront: he told you that you’d die if you failed, while Mr Noseybonk waited until you fell asleep and then crept out from under your bed to slice you from ear-to-ear. I imagine.

5) Through the Dragon’s Eye: If you want to help school children learn how to read, it makes sense to call upon the services of a TV character who can inspire and inform them. Enter Charn, a skeletal bird wizard whose dusty guts fell from his exposed ribcage and whose party piece was to shoot lightning from his knife claws and turn people into pools of bubbling human slime. I don’t know about you, but now I’m REALLY ready to learn about silent letters and vowels!

6) Chocky: With an opening sequence that looked like a Pink Floyd album cover set to a reverbed scream, Chocky was based on a John Wyndham novel which sees an alien travelling to earth and infiltrating the mind of a 12-year-old boy, Matthew, to glean information about Earth before a possible takeover bid. Matthew’s parents seem blithely unconcerned about their son’s ‘imaginary friend’ (at 12?) but when they realise he’s started talking in binary numbers, has an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything and is telepathic, they start taking notice. At this point it all goes a bit Men in Black as the government get involved. The ending doesn’t end the bed-wetting nightmares either, as Chocky reveals that in future he’ll try harder to stay undercover. Reassuring.

7) Pipkins: The show started in 1973 as Inigo Pipkin, the story of an elderly puppet maker and his (creepy) creations but the actor who played Pipkin died during filming of the second series, a fact that was cheerfully built into the show which became known as simply ‘Pipkins’. There are scenes in Stephen King’s Pet Semetary where a dead cat is buried on the site of an ancient burial ground once used by Micmac Indians and miraculously comes back to life, albeit smelling like death, behaving like a psychopath and looking decidedly part-worn: I can only imagine King had seen Hartley Hare. Like a feral carpet, Hartley also boasted the voice of a neighbourhood sex predator.

8) The Box of Delights: Magical, beautiful, probably the most Christmassy children’s drama ever made, but…mysterious things lurking in the woods, a title sequence featuring a demonic Punch and Judy puppet, un-Godly vicars and a tramp beckoning you to open his ‘magic box’ – you had to be made of stern stuff not to watch at least part of this John Masefield-penned classic from behind a cushion.

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