Children of the Corn
Life is Peachy
Stephen King is one of the master's of horror. I don't think there is much debate on that. Stories like It, The Tommyknockers, Salem's Lot, Cujo, and Misery all have their place in the literary and horror world. Sometimes they are great, but sometimes they don't translate well on screen and we're left with good ideas and bad execution. It's not King's fault, some ideas are just better on the page than in motion. Would the same be said for Children of the Corn?
Children of the Corn is a 1984 horror movie based on the short story by Stephen King. It stars Peter Horton (2 Days In The Valley, Grey's Anatomy) as Burt and Linda Hamilton (Terminator, Dante's Peak) as his wife, Vicky. The movie begins with a flashback in the small Nebraska town of Gatlin as told from the point of view of a little boy named Job (Robby Kiger, The Monster Squad). The children of the town rise up and brutally murder all of the adults in town. Cut to three years later, where Burt and Linda are driving towards Seattle for Burt's new job in the medical field. They take the back roads in Nebraska and accidentally hit a young boy standing in the road. Burt inspects him and discovers that the boy had already been killed prior to the car accident. They end up in the supposedly deserted town of Gatlin, trying to find help or a working phone. They come across a little girl named Sara, Job's sister, who has the ability to draw pictures of future events. While Burt goes into to town looking for a working phone, Vicky stays with Sara, who draws a picture of Vicky being tortured in a corn field. Led by Malachi, the most violent of the young people, a group captures Vicky and brings her out to the corn field. The children are being led by a boy preacher by the name of Issac. He talks of sacrificing Vicky and Burt to He Who Walks Behind The Rows. An argument ensues, and Malachi overthrows Issac. Meanwhile, Burt walks into the town church to find a bizarre ritual in which a young man is celebrating his birthday by carving a pentagram in his chest. Burt flees, pursued by the town's children, and discovers that Vicky has gone missing. Aided by Job and Sara, Burt must find a way to free Vicky and stop the fanatical and homicidal children. Who or what is He Who Walks Behind the Rows and will Burt be able to stop it?
Jesus, this won't end well
Children of the Corn is a pretty original idea when it comes to the horror genre. Evil children have been used in earlier horror movies, such as in The Omen and Village of the Damned. The difference with those movies and this one is that the children in Children of the Corn are still human. They don't have supernatural powers or are possessed by demons. For all intensive purposes, they are normal kids. Normal kids that have been overwhelmed and corrupted with a religious fervor that has convinced them to kill all the adults in town. The overall theme of religion and fanaticism is pretty strong throughout the movie, which creates a fun and scary atmosphere.
I appreciate that the story takes place all in one day, but it feels like certain scenes are stretched out a bit too long. It takes some willing suspension of disbelief to accept that Burt and Vicky keep wandering around this clearly creepy town looking for a phone. There is a good amount of action with some blood, but I could have used more. I also would have liked the movie to go more in depth when it comes to the “cleansing” of the town's adults. We really only see this in the opening scene of the movie. A few flashbacks would have really upped the violence, which would have created an even more terrifying experience. In terms of He Who Walks Behind The Rows, he isn't alluded to enough in my opinion and when he is finally revealed, the effects are a bit laughable. The acting is good throughout and the direction is competent.
Originally, I was going to review the movie right after I finished watching it, but I'm glad I waited and let the movie sink in a bit more. On the surface, it's a fun horror movie with a lot of action. Upon further inspection, though, there are a lot of unanswered questions. Where did He Who Walks Behind The Rows come from? Why was he in Nebraska? How have these kids been able to survive for so long? Has no one else come through this town in three years, like a mailman or something? No one called a loved one and realized people were missing? I know I'm seeing this from 2012 eyes from a movie made in the early 80's, but still, it takes a lot to ignore some of these questions.
Only an evil child would wear a hat like that
Overall, it's still an exciting and fun movie to watch. The kids are pretty creepy, which makes everything more believable. I've spent time in Iowa, so the entire movie reminded me of my less than pleasurable experience living among corn and religious people. Despite some plot problems, Children Of The Corn is worth your time.