Children of the Corn is one among the slew of horror movies derived from Stephen King stories. Among the King film greats like The Shining, Carrie and 1408, Children of the Corn hangs around the mid to lower end, but it’s not the worst.
The film takes place in Gatlin, a small town in Nebraska, surrounded by corn on the ground and religion on the radio waves. When a young couple happen upon an accident (or murder?) they go to the nearest town for help. But the town is deserted, except for a mob of children.
The first two thirds of the film are pretty great; they’re engrossing and creepy. The opening credits with Sarah’s crayon drawings set a wonderful tone. I love the isolation of our two leads (Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton), and the dried cornstalks everywhere, especially when they appear on the car. The way the children are all so brainwashed into this crazy religion, believing in “He who walks behind the rows” is fantastic and sadly believable. Isaac (John Franklin) and Malachai (Courtney Gains) are both forces not to be messed with, and the power struggle between them is truly intriguing.
Yet, the final act is where everything falls apart. “He who walks behind the rows” is much more menacing and malevolent before any visualization of the creature is present. And the special effects are laughably awful. At times, they are nothing more than a cheap animated blob that covers up a character as he or she are killed. This film needed to stay with what makes Jaws great: what you don’t see is what scares you.
Chilren of the Corn is not a bad movie, but it certainly isn’t great. It’s enjoyable, memorable, has a decent amount of blood and can scare a younger, more impressionable crowd. And I personally feel that it is a decent film companion of King’s short story. Perhaps it is better to grab some friends, some drinks and go all Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it. There are plenty of great jokes to make along the way.
“Outlander! We have your woman!”