Like a lot of horror fans my age, one of my favourite things to do as a kid was wander into the horror section of my local video joint and check out the VHS covers. There are a number of covers that have stayed with me since, and Mikey is one of those movies that I have a vivid memory of seeing and really, really wanting to rent. It wasn't so much that the cover was all that great, but the fact that there was a giant sticker on the front that read "BANNED IN THE UK". Being young and impressionable, I figured Mikey must be one of the most hardcore movies ever, when in fact it had been banned due to the BBFC's tightening of rules after the James Bolger murder case.
So here we are years later and I've finally gotten the chance to see this movie. As to be expected, it's not the most hardcore ever made - not even close. But it is hilarious.
The movie beings with Mikey murdering his latest adopted family; beating his father's head in with a baseball bat, electrocuting his mother and drowning his younger sister. This is the only scene of the movie that I can see attracting any controversy, in particular the death of the sister, but even this is hokey as hell. Once it's been established that Mikey is a mean little shit, we follow him to his new foster home and new school, where his teacher Ms. Gilder (Ashley Laurence) notices that something is a little "off" from the get go. Mikey befriends his neighbour Ben (played by the creepy kid from Nightmare On Elm Street 5) and becomes obsessed with Ben's older sister Jessie, causing him to go into a jealous rage and begin another killing spree. It's up to Ms. Gilder and the principal of the school Mr. Jenkins (played by Lyman Ward, aka Ferris Beuller's dad) to save the day.
Mikey is 100% entertainment the whole way through. It's crazy that it could have been banned because it's just so silly that it's impossible to take seriously. The whole thing is amazingly implausible, riddled with plot holes and an abundance of outlandish coincidences that help Mikey along in his quest to smoke everyone around him. Above all I love the fact that Mikey seems to be a trained expert when it comes to killing, utilising any number of methods and then somehow leaving no evidence whatsoever behind. He's also a master of manipulation, somehow outwitting a child psychologist and convincing everyone that he's totally innocent.
Obviously there's no attempts at realism being made here, and Mikey is all the more fun because of it. It kind of resembles a cheap TV movie, and follows the same trajectory as a thousand "killer [blank]" movies that you used to see on late night TV all the time. The direction is totally flat and the performances are mostly lazy, but that doesn't really affect the movie because it does exactly what you'd expect. Those of more delicate sensibilities might find it irritating that none of the adults seem to realise what's going on, in particular Mikey's adopted mother whose actions are totally off the wall, but hey, that's to be expected.
Mikey's success comes from the fact that it's completely over the top: it's not too gory or even that violent, but the sheer hilarity of the whole thing guarantees a good time.