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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Predator (1987)

This Stuff Will Make You a God Damned Sexual Tyrannosaurus.

In my mind, my review of the Alien series would not be complete if I didn’t first review Alien vs. Predator.  Unlike even the worst Alien movies, AvP will probably give me a lot more to make fun of, being much lower in quality.  But I couldn’t just jump right into that movie either, because there’s another name in that title that I haven’t reviewed yet.  The first movie in this series is a classic sci-fi action movie but, as with many movies, I didn’t see it when it came out and I was a kid.  Without the nostalgia making it seem better than it actually is, was this movie able to hold up in the present?  We’ll find out in my review of Predator, written by Jim and John Thomas, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Peter Hall, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Sonny Landham, Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, Richard Chaves, Shane Black, and R.G. Armstrong.

A group of mercenaries lead by Major Alan “Doesn’t my accent sound ‘Dutch’” Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is hired by his old military buddy, George Dillon (Carl Weathers), to rescue a captured presidential cabinet member from guerrilla forces in Val Verde.  When they get there, they find a downed helicopter and the skinned bodies of an Army Special Forces unit.  They take out a nearby rebel encampment, but soon start to realize that there’s something else in the jungle, hunting them with thermal vision, a laser gun, cloaking device, and dreadlocks.

This is a very cool sci-fi action flick.  It borders on cheesy in more than one occasion, but overall it still holds up as entirely kick ass.  One thing I got to thinking about is how much more interesting I probably would’ve found this movie on my first viewing, at least if I had no prior knowledge of what I was watching.  If you think about it, not knowing anything about the movie you would be caught completely off guard by the fact that it starts off as a pretty typical army type of movie that strangely keeps cutting back to something that’s watching them in infrared.  Not until almost the midway point do you actually find out that an alien is in the mix.  I like the way the movie unfolds, and I like how it concludes.  All of that Arnold stuff, caked in mud and fighting the alien with whatever he could assemble from the jungle.  Yeah, I know the Mythbusters proved that the mud wouldn’t actually mask his heat signature, but I’m still perfectly comfortable suspending my disbelief to enjoy it.  I laughed at the part where the black dude was unloading into the forest because he saw the Predator and the other guys on the team ran up and just started shooting at random, knowing nothing more than they were clearing out some foliage.  I did take a pretty big issue with one big logic loophole in the movie.  Arnold figures out pretty early on that the Predator wants a challenge, and even kicks the gun out of the girl’s hand because he won’t attack her if she’s unarmed and not a challenge.  Why the hell didn’t everyone just throw their guns down?  They would’ve all survived apparently!  There were some parts to the dialogue that I could take issue with because of their corniness, but it’s an Arnold movie from the 80s!  If I didn’t go in expecting some bad dialogue, then I was fooling myself.  When Arnold stuck a guy to a pole with his knife and he said, “Stick around,” I couldn’t help but think he was getting started really early for his pun-tacular role as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.  I also laughed when one of the soldiers was going off because of Harper’s death, saying, “You don’t understand how bad this thing is.  Whatever it is out there, it killed Harper!” because I thought to myself, “Yeah, and nothing’s killed Harper before!”  On a more positive note, I had completely forgotten where the quote that almost everyone includes in their Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions – “Get to tha choppa!” – came from, and it’s this movie.  I usually go with, “Get to the choppa, Danny!” which I believe is a mash up of this movie and Last Action Hero, but I’m okay with it.

The look of the movie is also pretty well done and mostly holds up.  I respect a time when explosions were actually happening on the set.  Also, the fake dead bodies were pretty well done.  They made a couple of odd choices with the look though.  Like right in the beginning, when Arnold and Carl Weathers shook hands and the camera focused a little too long on their rippling buffness.  On the other hand, if you’re a gay guy, they probably focus on it just long enough for you to tug one out.  And that’s not the only moment that a gay dude could spank to, so it’s got that goin’ for it.  Also, the part where the Predator was performing surgery on his wound, it was less than convincing and seemed more like he was just poking his wound with random items.

The performances were … a bunch of muscle bound dudes and at least one who spoke English as a second language.  What do you expect?  Arnold was indeed an action star and he does nothing to tarnish that in this movie.  As muscle bound as ever and he doesn’t try to act so there’s really not much to hold against him.  I preferred Jesse Ventura’s character though, just because of the ridiculous things he’d say, like when he called everyone a bunch of slack-jawed faggots because they wouldn’t try the chewing tobacco that studies have shown will make one a goddamned sexual tyrannosaur.  He also found himself far too strapped for time to have any left over to bleed, so that’s also a plus.  They also had a comic relief guy that I didn’t find that annoying, even though every single one of his jokes was about how big his girlfriend’s vagina was.

Predator definitely holds up.  It’s not the smartest movie ever, but it’s also not entirely dumb.  The story leads you in one direction before dropping an alien on you to make it science fiction, the action is still great fun to watch, and you just can’t expect much from the performances, and you’d be right.  But the movie is still great and still entirely watchable, even by today’s standards.  Predator gets “So you cooked up a story and dropped the six of us into a meat grinder?” out of “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

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