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Children of the Corn

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During the 70's Stephen King became a household name writing some of the scariest novels ever. In 1976, the first of many hit movies based on his works hit the streets in the form of Brian DePalma's "Carrie."

Although all too often the cinematic versions bore little more than a passing resemblance to King's original work, for years to come, seldom did anything from the hands and mind of Stephen King, NOT get made into a movie. His short story Children of the Corn was no exception.

3 years ago, before the main events of the story happened, just after Sunday church services, all seems normal in the small town of Gatlin, Nebraska. Job (Robby Kiger) was the only boy in church that day, his sister was home sick, and all the others were in the corn field with the mysterious newcomer, Isaac (John Franklin).

Enjoying a milkshake at the local diner, Job takes note of Isaac standing at the window giving his unspoken order to Malachai (Courtney Gains). After the teenage waitresses poison the coffee, Malachai and the other children slaughter all the adults in the place, including Job’s father. That day, Job’s sister Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy) begins to draw strange pictures. As the credits that roll in, these pictures give impressions of the many horrors that are to follow.

In the present, newlyweds Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) set off on the road to get to Burt’s new job and they take to the roads of Nebraska. One child tries to escape the little town of Gatlin, but finds his throat slashed at the hands of Malachai. Stumbling out on to the road he is mowed down by Burt and Vicky’s car. With a dead boy on their hands the two need to find a phone and Gatlin is the nearest town. A local mechanic (R. G. Armstrong), sternly warns them not to go, but, drawn in by some mysterious force they are unable to leave, which results in the children murdering the mechanic, who failed to keep the outsiders away.

Now, Isaac, the leader of the children, orders that the outsiders be captured for sacrifice, to appease their god, ‘he who walks behind the rows’. After splitting up to look for help in the seemingly deserted town, Vicky is captured and tied to a cross. Now Burt, with the help of Sarah and Job, must save her and stop the mysterious evil that dwells in this town.

The first half of the movie is the part that is scary, it’s also where all the deaths take place (not including the deaths of the villains). It is a tad slow-paced, but it does help add to the suspense. The second half of the film frequently falls into the realm of silliness. The children no longer hide in the shadows and are now out in the open. We then get exposed to some silly speeches from Peter Horton, preaching about their misguided beliefs. The ending is, for many, disappointing.

A change of mood from the downbeat ending of the original novel to a more 'Hollywood' sappy ending leaves the viewer a tad let down...

Verdict?

Children of the Corn from the Stephen King collection of short stories, Night Shift, is now mostly forgotten amongst many people. It was never, by any means, a great movie, but it wasn’t terrible either. Perhaps one of the problems with this film is that movie goers didn’t know what to make of it, it wasn’t normal horror movie fair. It may have originally been intended to be rated PG, there is after all no particularly gory violence, nudity or foul language (although a movie which stars children killing people is not the sort of thing that would be exposed to younger audiences). Overall, Children of the Corn was a pretty good movie, and is at least worth a couple of bucks to rent. I considered it good enough to warrant buying it on DVD, and I suggest that if you are a horror movie completest that you buy this yourself.

Children of the Corn was a fairly creepy and suspenseful movie. The performances from the younger actors are quite good. Better than many other killer children movies out there, although the second half of the movie leaves something to be desired. 9 years after it was made the first Children of the Corn sequel was released followed by 5 others. A good, suspenseful thriller that is worth seeing at least once.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Scary, suspenseful opening, great score.

Weaknesses? The ending is pretty silly for a movie with an overall serious tone.

Our rating: 8 out of 10


Review Written by Wen C Bailey:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Wen C Bailey
Children of the Corn