Being a kid is hard enough. Try being one who’s possessed by a demon, is Satan’s son or is doomed to haunt a hotel for all eternity.
We’re talking, of course, about the young stars of horror movies — the latest of which, “The Prodigy,” stars Taylor Schilling as the mother of a boy (Jackson Robert Scott) with a malevolent, supernatural presence inside.
But what happens to young horror-movie stars when they grow up? Here’s what the young stars of some classic creepy movies are up to these days.
Harvey Spencer Stephens — “The Omen”
The British actor was only 6 years old when he became world famous playing Damien Thorn, Satan’s spawn, in that horror classic. But while he netted a Golden Globe nomination for best acting debut in 1976, Stephens rarely acted since, aside from 1980’s “Gauguin the Savage” and a small role in the 2006 “The Omen” remake. Instead, the 48-year-old worked odd jobs (limo driver, video store employee) before becoming a property developer.
In 2017, he made headlines for the wrong reasons: attacking two bicyclists in a bout of road rage, knocking one unconscious. Stephens pleaded guilty, but avoided jail time. We’ll never know what possessed him to act so brutishly.
Patty McCormack — “The Bad Seed”
Her role of the 8-year-old sociopathic killer, Rhoda Penmark, in that 1956 flick was McCormack’s breakout moment. But, unlike many child stars of the creepy movies that followed, the role didn’t hurt her acting career: She’s made more than 30 movies since, including 2008’s “Frost/Nixon,” in which she played first lady Pat.
Now 73, McCormack says it was easier for her to avoid typecasting — and her fans’ expectations — in the days before the internet.
“With all of that, it’s come to life again, in my later years,” she told Collider. “Now, people don’t think I’m a has-been because I did something when I was a kid. They go, ‘Oh, my god, it’s incredible that you’ve been working for so many years.’ ”
Oliver Robins — “Poltergeist”
Robins has the sad distinction of being the only surviving child actor from that 1982 film. Dominique Dunne, who played his older sister, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend the year the film was released; Heather O’Rourke, who played his younger sister, died during surgery at age 12 in 1988. Now 47, he continues to work in Hollywood, and wrote the 2017 horror film “Devil’s Whisper” about a 15-year-old who unleashes a demonic spirit.
Linda Blair — “The Exorcist”
The star of what’s still considered the scariest movie ever is now 60 and more focused on animal rights than acting. She started the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating abused animals, and wrote the 2001 book “Going Vegan!” Now and then, though, she performs: You might have caught her in an episode of “Supernatural,” or in the 2016 absinthe documentary “The Green Fairy.” She’s slated to star in an upcoming thriller, “Landfill,” as a detective who — wait for it — delves into the paranormal.
Haley Joel Osment — “The Sixth Sense”
The boy who creeped out a generation when he whispered, “I see dead people” in that 1999 thriller is still acting. Now 30, Osment debuted on Broadway in 2008 in a (short-lived) revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” He also appeared in last year’s reboot of “The X-Files,” had a recurring role on “Silicon Valley” and appeared in the Ted Bundy drama “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” that premiered at Sundance. Osment told Vulture he never guessed his “dead people” line would live on as long as it has: “It really hit me the year after, when Tiger Woods did a Chrysler commercial where he rolled up in the car and rolled down the window and said the line and I was like, ‘Oh.’ ”
Lisa and Louise Burns — “The Shining”
The real-life twins who played the ghostly duo haunting the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s film didn’t stick with acting — Louise is a scientist, while Lisa went into law — but they haven’t forgotten their cinematic roots: Now 50, they maintain a Twitter account cheekily named @Shining_twins.
Louise told the Daily Mail that she never found her “Shining” experience upsetting: “Us lying in the blood was one of the last scenes shot for the movie and I remember being worried, not because of the blood, but because it was going to be cold. Stanley was such a perfectionist and had planned exactly how he was going to pour the blood over us, so our main concern was just staying really, really still. We only had one set of blue dresses, so we had to get it right the first time otherwise the blood would ruin the dresses.”