Movie Reviews 170 – Children of the Corn (1984)

Children of the CornI’ve always been curious about the Children of the Corn (CotC) movie.  Yet another movie adapted from a Stephen King novel, what intrigued me more was learning that there are no less than seven movie sequels (and a TV series ‘remake’) that were made in the years since. I figured that there must be something particularly intriguing going on here with so many movies and the popularity could not be due to King fans alone.

So I got the DVD with the first movie (actually it was on one of those quad pack with four movies for five bucks) and in anticipation also found another multipack DVD that had the first five sequels (see below) and even three Halloween sequels. CotC DVDs in hand, I got down to viewing …

After an odd short opening sequence in which we find some Amish/Mennonite country bumpkin kids slaughtering the customers at a small town dinner, the ‘Corn’ aspect of the movie (the actual vegetation not the ‘hackneyed’ meaning of the word) makes the first of many appearances. The next scene features young couple Vicky (Linda Hamilton) and her doctor husband Burt (Peter Horton) driving through Nebraska’s never ending corn fields where they literally crash into a kid emerging from the roadside fields. Upon closer inspection they discover to their horror that the kid was mortally wounded even before running out onto the road. The couple then try to report the incident to the local authorities only to find out that they seem to be driving around in circles, all of which eerily force them to enter the town of Gatlin despite being warned by a roadside garage mechanic that they won’t find any help there.

What they do find in Gatlin is a town where all the adults were killed in one big massacre (reference to the opening scene) a few years ago and which is now ruled by the kids. The leader is a conniving, bible thumping Isaac (John Franklin) backed up by the ‘muscle’ of the group, the slightly older Malachai (Courtney Gains). The couple also run into young brother and sister, Job and Sarah, ‘good’ kids fearing and sometimes skirting the rules of the elder leaders. Even more interesting is Sarah’s precognitive abilities in which she foresees horrific events in her crayon drawings.

We find Issac sermoning the kids on the vileness and villainy of all adults during his occasional sermons out in the cornfields (natch!) and revering their deity who is simply referred to as “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”. As you can expect it isn’t long before we find all the kids chasing the couple around town until the movie comes to the big final showdown which will pit some of the kids against one another as much as the adults.

Not a bad movie but not very powerful either as you have to suspend belief for a lot of the events and situations to be realistic. The acting abilities of the young cast can be irritating at times but I’m not sure what the poor acting excuse was for the few adults in the movie. The movie ends on a whimper with one last ‘surprise’ shock that was laughable.

Fair warning. I’ll be watching and reviewing that DVD set with the first five sequels (CotC II: The Final Sacrifice, CotC III: Urban Harvest, CotC IV: The Gathering, CotC V: Fields of Terror, and CotC 666) so you’ll be getting quite a few more Corny reviews in the near future. I’ll also make an effort to find that seventh sequel, CotC: Genesis, completist that I am, but we’ll just have to see about that one.

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