Children of the Corn

Children of the Corn

Released 1984

Review by: Fiji Mermaid

This 1984 film is based on a short story of the same name by Stephen King, which appeared in his 1978 book Night Shift. I saw this movie back in the mid 80s after it was released on home video. It was one of those movies that I'd heard about and wanted to see because it sounded creepy. I wouldn't read the original short story until about 20 yrs later. The differences between the film version and the book versions ending and fate of the main characters are vastly different. I would gather most book fans hate this movie because of that very change. I think the film's end is far too happy, with good saved and evil punished, but apparently that’s what mainstream audiences need, god forbid their precious main characters be killed at the end.

The film is about a town in Nebraska called Gatlin where all of the young people have taken over the town and killed off the adults. They are directed by their leader Issac and his right hand man/boy Malachi, who I must say are two of the more memorable characters of the film, and even today they give me a bit of a creepy feeling. The actor who plays Issac is very weird looking and his voice then and now give me this sense of is he a boy or is he a man? I'd be lying if he wasn't about 90% why I wanted to see this again. I remembered him being weirdly creepy and I had to see if he was still. He was.

After you see the murdered adults, the film switches its focus to young adults Burt and Vicky, who are on a vacation and happen to be traveling through Gatlin on the way to their destination. While traveling down a lonely stretch of highway with corn on either side of them, they run into a boy standing in the road. They think they've killed him, but Burt is a doctor and sees that his throat was slit and says that he was recently killed and placed in the road. They are shaken and start driving to the nearest town to call for help. They stop at gas station and an old man says that even though Gatlin is closer, not to go there, but to drive further away to a neighboring town. They follow his direction, but the street signs are changed and they end up going in circles and decide to head to Gatlin.

They pull up to a house hoping to find help or a phone, but instead discover a young girl drawing, playing games and listening to music which is apparently forbidden. Vicky decides to stay with her and Burt goes to look for help. While he's gone, Malachi and his goon squad capture Vicki and bring her back to Issac. She's tied up on a cross to be given to their god "He Who Walks Behind the Rows", but they also want Burt. Malachi feels Vicky could be good bait to lure Burt, but Issac disagrees. The argument ends with Malachi knocking Issac to the ground and assuming control. He has Vicky taken down and, Issac put up in her place. The bait doesn't work. Not because Malachi doesn't try, but because Burt is hiding in a secret area Sarah's sister Job has taken him too. They met earlier while Burt was searching for help in the town.

Job leads Burt to the clearing in the cornfield where they have Vicky. Before he rushes in "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" burrows in Tremors style to take Issac. Burt takes this moment to rush in to free Vicky. He's actually met with little resistance at first, I think because he is an adult showing no fear, and that still intimidates the Children of the Corn. Malachi is the only person who strikes out at him and they battle a bit. Issac in some kind of zombie-like form shows up and says "he wants you too" and kills Malachi. The rest of the children run to a barn where Burt and Vicki are. Burt figures out that he must set the corn on fire to kill the monster. He hooks up some fuel to the sprinkler system in the field and sprays the fields and then with the help of Job throws a Molotov cocktail into the field, setting it ablaze. Burt and Vicky head out of town agreeing to take Job and Sarah with them.

Overall, I'd say this movie has more in name and reputation than actually being a solid horror film. I think a more faithful adaptation would have been better. I always like to see a good downer of an ending, because they just don't happen often enough. There are some good moments and the two main killer kids are played well, if only because the actors are creepy to me. It's enjoyable enough for a one time or every few decades viewing. The stand out element is the score/soundtrack by Jonathan Elias, most notably the title track with its haunting vocals. Great stuff!

Theatrical Trailer

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