Friday, October 30, 2009

Week of Reel Whorror!: Pointless Nostalgia Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of the
Week of Reel WHorror!

The first time I watched Children of the Corn (the original, not the remake or the umpteen painful sequels) I was staying with my Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Sandy. According to my sister, she was there, too, but that I don't recall. She remembers this because she was so scared at the thought of watching the movie. Ironic considering now she watches more horror movies than I ever have and probably ever will. But at six, she hadn't quite acquired a taste for the macabre.

My aunt had her reservations about showing this to us and told me that she would change the channel if it got too scary or gross. As long as I could watch part of it, I didn't care. She had flipped it back and forth several times, but her plan went terribly wrong towards the end. When Malachai pulled out his blade and lifted it to Vicky's face, I vividly recall my aunt exclaiming, "Ooh, Lord!" and click went the remote. Crisis averted, right? Except the other movie we'd been half-watching was Porky's Revenge. My eyes went from anticipating a blade drawing blood to seeing the naked lug, Meat, being chased around a riverboat by the hefty, and very naked Blossom. Of course, the next thing I heard was my aunt exclaim, as she clamped her hands over my eyes as she fumbled to turn off the cable box completely.

I think I can safely say I'm the only person who was exposed to my first nude scene while watching Children of the Corn. Let's take a look at what the flick's really all about:

Children of the Corn

Release: 03.09.84
DVD Release: 10.16.00
Rated R
1 hour, 32 minutes


Based on the short story by Stephen King, Children of the Corn follows Burt (Peter Horton, TV: thirtysomething) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton, Terminator) as they travel through Nebraska on their way to Seattle. Burt hits a young child with his car, but the situation seems fishy so the couple veer into the nearest town, Gatlin, to seek help. Little do they know the children of the town follow the leadership of a creepy child, Isaac (John Franklin, The Addams Family), who preaches the ways of He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

Isaac was one freaky kid with his creaky, morning-gruff voice. But the really scary character in Children of the Corn was
Malachai (Courtney Gains, Behind Enemy Lines). Playing the fugly, red-headed, redneck was Courtney's big break into showbiz. They couldn't have cast a better teen for the role because you may forget Isaac, but you will never forget Malachai.

Seeing impressionable children as zealous followers of some dark, primal force is a frightening premise. However, Corn seems stretched to reach the ninety minute runtime. Conversations between Burt and Vicky and the two non-wackadoo children, Job (Robby Kiger) and Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy), are deliberately drawn out. Not bad if hints of the conflict were being given, but the much-needed exposition is held until the final ten minutes where Job has to rattle of major details as if he were John Moschitta, Jr.

Children of the Corn also suffers from significant recurring continuity issues. Those aren't quite as bad as the cheesy glowing lights and sky effects that are used to represent He Who Walks Behind the Rows. It's hard to even grant leniency for effects quality at the time; better choices could have been made to craft a more sinister being than a few angry-faced clouds. The budget must have been blown on Isaac's final scene makeup.

Children of the Corn
is still a decent horror movie. It's part of that era when you could consistently count on a film with the Stephen King moniker to be worth watching... for the story if not for anything else.

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