Remember that time I reviewed the Children of the Corn remake? That was terrible! I was browsing Netflix and saw that they actually have the original and decided to watch it for the first time in twenty years. Parts of it haven’t aged so well but I still thought this was a good watch.
There are some scenes from scary movies that permanently embed themselves in your mind. I always remembered this one scene from a movie of a man having his hand forcibly stuck in one of those deli meat slicers. Turns out it was from this movie. So I guess this movie was successful at burning that scene in my mind.
The movie is interesting because it’s narrated by a child, Job (Robby Kiger, who was also Patrick in The Monster Squad) and it starts three years before the events of the movie. The main antagonist is Isaac (John Franklin), a preteen preacher who has a revelation from He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
Isaac’s main allies are Malachai (Courtney Gains) and Rachel (Julie Maddalena), they both fervently enforce Isaac’s will.
There’s bloodshed within five minutes of this movie starting as the children poison and stab the adults of the town.
Job and his little sister, Sarah (AnneMarie McEvoy) don’t participate. Their parents dislike Isaac so they weren’t present when Isaac had his revelation. They’re mostly excluded from the Activities of the Corn but they’re not allowed to leave. Also, Sarah has visions of the future that she draws, so Isaac mostly allows them to be left alone.
Three years later, Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton!) are driving across country to Burt’s new job. True fact, Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton were together for a year in the early 80s. If there was any animosity between the pair, it doesn’t show. They have much better chemistry than the actors in the remake. They manage to bicker without it becoming uncomfortable, the way it was in the remake.
They hit a child while driving through Gatlin, Town of the Corn. Turns out the kid had his throat slit because he tried to escape before they hit him. They arrive in the town and find nothing but desolate cornliness. Seriously, there are little corn totems and stalks of corn everywhere.
There’s even a corn church.
Vicky, very sensibly, wants to go to the next town, Hemingford, but Burt is stubborn and insists on looking at every corner of this ghost town for an adult. From here, they encounter the children and realize how sick the town is.
What keeps this movie entertaining is the constant creepy imagery and the desolation. There’s a very Wicker Man-feel to the attempted sacrifice of Vicky and the effigy of The Blue Man.
In the end, Malachai and Isaac learn what happens when you try to double cross He Who Walks Among the Rows. And we’re treated to this truly awful CGI.
The movie fails towards the end. In the novella, Burt and Vicky die. It’s okay if the movie doesn’t follow the story exactly but the movie ends with these cheesy sitcom jokes about taking off with Job and Sarah. Then Rachel tries to kill them and there’s even more laughter. It’s like the ending of a particularly dark episode of Diff’rent Strokes. Most of the movie holds up well but the ending just doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the movie. I wonder if the filmmakers tried to temper the darkness of the opening? Apparently, Stephen King wrote a draft of the script that was rejected. I’m curious to see what that draft was like.
I still think He Who Walks Among the Rows is Randall Flagg. I’m basing this mostly on Mother Abigail’s experiences in Hemingford Home after the superflu, when she senses the evil in the corn. That being said, my only knowledge of the Randall Flagg mythos is based on The Stand because I haven’t read The Dark Tower series.
This movie mostly holds up but I’m also a sucker for a killer kids movie. It’s 90 minutes, so, aside from the ending it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. And everyone can agree with the message of the danger of false prophets.