Children of the Corn (1984)

17 Feb

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Smith’s Verdict: *

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Children of the Corn” is a movie in serious need of punishment. This is a sick, depraved movie that isn’t enjoyable unless you like to see children under the age of 19 butcher adults and attempt to sacrifice a woman to their deity He Who Walks Behind The Rows, shouting “Kill! Kill! Kill!” Why is their deity called that, anyway? He doesn’t walk behind the rows, he tunnels underneath them.

These little monsters are led by the sadistic young preacher named Isaac (John Franklin), who brings the children of small town Gatlin, Nebraska into the clearing of the corn fields to preach about He Who Walks Behind The Rows. He orders the children to follow his orders and kill all of the adults in town. His main executioner is another sadistic little snot named Malachi (Courtney Gains), who always has his hunting knife handy for slitting throats of children who rebel against Isaac.

Where did Isaac come from? How did he get to be this way? We don’t know. All we know is that we would love to kill this kid, along with Malachi with his own hunting knife. The rest of the kids are practically just their robots, agreeing with them in deadpan.

The narrator of the movie is a boy named Job (Robby Kiger)—he explains in narration that the town has been adult-free for three years. He, his older brother Joseph, and his psychic sister Sarah (she can draw what is going to happen) are nonbelievers, but they keep it a secret from the other children. Joseph plans to run away from Gatlin through the cornfield. He doesn’t make it—he gets his throat cut by Malachi and is thrown out into the road, where his body is hit by a traveling young couple (Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton). The couple is traveling to Seattle and is passing through Gatlin to report the body but they don’t know what they’re in for.

The only thing that looks good in “Children of the Corn” are the shots of the cornfield (someone running through them looks like someone stumbling through a maze) and the music score, which is quite eerie and belongs in a different, more acceptable horror movie. The character are uninteresting—the young couple is bland and stupid and the kids are annoying and sadistic—and the movie is not well-made by most means. There are cheap shots through almost 85% of the movie. Also, there’s a character of a grizzled gas station manager played by R.G Armstrong that doesn’t work at all.

The climax of the film in which He Who Walks Behind The Rows must be stopped is tacky with an unfinished and unsatisfying feeling.

Then there’s the narration by the kid named Job. For the first half-hour, we hear his narration and then the filmmakers just forget to finish it up or pay it off. There is no ending narration—instead, there is a credit that seems to come out of nowhere rather than end the movie.

“Children of the Corn” is loosely based on Stephen King’s short story in his collection of short stories called “Night Shift.” I don’t know what he was thinking of when he wrote the story to begin with. This premise could never work. It certainly doesn’t work here. However, to be fair about the story, it has more cleverly-written dialogue than any of the lines in this movie.

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