Children of the Corn (1984)


I Spy With My Little Eye Something That Starts With “C”

Children of the Corn (1984)The October Horrorthon has returned!  I actually purchased today’s movie a few months ago, but held onto it so that I could do it as part of the Horrorthon this year.  It’s a movie I’m sure we all know about, and even one I’m sure most people had seen already, but if I was one of those people I didn’t recall it at all.  I didn’t get to see a lot of horror movies when I was younger, so it’s nice to have an excuse to catch up.  This movie is Children of the Corn, based on a short story by Stephen King, directed by Fritz Kiersch, and starring Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, John Franklin, Courtney Gains, Robby Kiger, Anne Marie McEvoy, John Philbin, and R. G. Armstrong.

A group of kids decide to kill all the adults in town because the corn told them to.  Two such children are Job (Robby Kiger) and his sister Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy), and they join the other children lead by Isaac (John Franklin) who speaks for the corn and his muscle Malachai (Courtney Gains).  Years later, Burt (Peter Horton) and his girlfriend Vicky (Linda Hamilton) are driving down a country road when they totally mow down a little boy that was standing in the road.  Upon investigation, they find out that the boy had been stabbed while trying to escape the cult of children, so the couple feels like they’ve been let off the hook.  Showing the corpse all due respect, they toss him in the trunk and head off, but get lost and stranded in the town of Gatlin, where all the adults are now gone and the cult offers the children as sacrifice when they turn 19.  Makes you wonder how long this cult expected they would last without reproducing, doesn’t it?  Vicky gets abducted by the cult and Burt must try to reclaim her.

I thought this movie was supposed to be a classic!  Well, I guess it is by its age, but not by its quality.  It’s okay at its best; silly at its worst.  It’s strange to say that it seems a story about children killing their parents because corn told them to is unimaginative, but it felt that way to me.  It just felt standard.  Some killings, some supernatural stuff, overly simple solution, vaguely happy ending.  And what’s worse is that the only thing I found myself wanting out of this movie was never delivered: some hardcore kid punching!  I would’ve beaten the shit out of these little punks!  The closest that happens is Burt pushes some of them down and beats up on Malachai a little.  None of these kids would have escaped my wrath!  Even if they did nothing to me directly they’d have a punchin’ comin’ their way!

The simple story could’ve been overcome if the movie was scary, but it never really managed that either.  I had a bad feeling early on when the kid was running through the corn fields.  I don’t care how scary your music may seem or how jarring your camera movements are, if all you’re doing is showing me close ups of corn I’m not going to be scared.  Shortly after the kid gets stabbed, so I guess you could say that was scary.  You could also say it was just blood being flicked onto a suitcase.  Later on the movie tries to get supernatural when the corn starts getting involved, but that just looked goofy, as if corn stalks were falling over a man that was thrashing madly.

The performances didn’t do much for me.  They were fine I suppose, but they didn’t seem to be trying all that hard.  I think they wanted me to like Peter Horton’s character, but I stopped liking him when he ran that kid down.  Not because he ran that kid down, mind you.  I’ve nothing against that per se.  But he’s supposed to be a doctor and he tried to make the argument that the kid was already dead when he hit him even though the kid was standing in the center of the road holding his hands out as if to say, “Don’t hit me, I’m still alive!”  My uneducated opinion is that this kid had a little more fight in him.  And that wasn’t the only occasion that made me think he was stupid.  He also decided to trust the magical corn that opened up to let him walk into the fields.  Maybe I’m just untrusting of corn in general, but I would regard that as suspicious.  I didn’t like Linda Hamilton in this movie either, but mainly because I want her to be Sarah Connor levels of badass or nothing at all.  I think she had not yet been Sarah Connor by this point, but I would argue that she always has been and always will be Sarah Connor.  And then I would say stop arguing with me; this is my review!  John Franklin also weirded me out because he was supposed to be a little kid but looked more like a 30-year-old to me.  Then I looked it up and I guess he WAS more like a 30-year-old!  But I also couldn’t find out anything about why he looked like this.  That will haunt me much longer than this movie will, as demonstrated by the fact that it currently haunts me and the movie never did.  Also haunting was how much Courtney Gains looked like he should’ve been the third Pete brother.

Children of the Corn was a disappointment to me.  I thought that the fact that I had heard so much about this movie meant that it would be good.  That is a dangerous assumption to make, and one I hope to avoid in the future.  It wasn’t a bad movie, but it had a pretty simple story, no scares whatsoever, and lackluster performances that would keep the movie from being anything I will remember for very long.  Nor will I be recommending it.  You don’t really need to watch this.  Children of the Corn gets “Did you rewrite the whole thing, or just the parts that don’t suit your needs?” out of “Behold!  A dream did come to me, and the Lord did show all of this to me.”

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