Movie Reviews 174 – Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

Children of the Corn IIIAfter the big letdown that was Children of the Corn II:The Final Sacrifice, I had to regroup my cinematic senses to muster the nerve to plunk in my DVD of Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest and continue my cornfield journey. And what the hell are they implying with the oxymoronic “Urban Harvest” anyhow? It all makes sense if you can swallow a lot logic along with that corn on your plate.

I understand the producers wanting to take the story out of the farm fields and into the city as it could open up a bunch of new possibilities for the story. The problem was that once they did that, they didn’t take full advantage of it and held onto most aspects of the prior CotC movies.

Gatlin farmboy brothers Eli (Daniel Cerny) and the elder Joshua (Ron Melendez) are taken in as foster children to a family in big city Chicago when their drunken belligerent father dies chasing his young ‘uns in the cornfields one night. Yeah, young Eli was responsible for the nasty deed with the help of our familiar friend who simply goes by the name of He Who Walks Behind The Rows. The oddity here is that his older brother Joshua doesn’t seem to know about Eli’s evil ways, and plays role of the innocent protagonist in the film.

As one can imagine, both boys stick out like sore thumbs in their new ‘hood and especially in the racial melting pot of 1990’s inner city high school where the fashion trends of the day featured crimped hairdos, dance leggings and coveralls. Well OK, maybe if the boys wore their coveralls instead of their black slacks and jackets with collarless white shirts it wouldn’t have been so conspicuous.

The antagonism leveled towards Eli from his new foster mother Amanda (Nancy Lee Grahn) begins almost as soon as the brothers arrive. Not only does Eli defy his parents by breaking through the fence in their backyard to access the abandoned building immediately adjacent to the house, he finds an inner open courtyard and plants the corn seeds he’s brought from home. As Eli starts playing games with his mother’s sanity, his relationship with his new father (Jim Metzler) is decidedly more urbane, especially when the father learns of the spectacular properties of the corn Eli is growing. Ever the ruthless capitalist, he envisions dollar signs for the seeds of the corn that seems to be able to grow without much light, water or anything more than dust as a soil bed.

Meanwhile the schism between the brothers grows as Joshua starts adapting, making friends and even falling for a girl. Initially mocked by the entire school, Eli starts recruiting a flock of goth clothed students who soon protect him like the messiah he poses to be, all the while preaching the gospel of He Who Walks Behind The Rows.

The big surprise in this movie is the conflict between siblings Eli and Joshua which does make for an interesting part of the movie. More troublesome (and hard to swallow) was hot Eli actually managed to get converts to the flock. Aside from hearing him ranting in the school hallways and cafeteria, the emergence of the flock, not even mentioning the absolute dedication, seems to come out of nowhere overnight.

In the end it is up to Joshua to bring down his little evil bro and his band of minions.

Despite the flaws, Urban Harvest is a cut above The Final Sacrifice and also provides a clear sequel oriented ending which I will explore when I get around to CotC IV: The Gathering.


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