Saturday, October 1, 2022

#2,824. Children of the Corn (1984)


In a world where The Shining, Misery, Salem’s Lot, Carrie, and even Stand By Me exist, I doubt there are many people who would point to 1984’s Children of the Corn as the best of the Stephen King adaptations. Yet the movie, flawed though it may be, has elements that make it a worthy entry in the famed author’s cinematic canon.

Directed by Fritz Kiersch, Children of the Corn tells the story of Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton), who, following a traffic accident in rural Nebraska, discover that a young boy named Joseph (Jonas Marlowe) has been murdered. Hoping to alert the authorities, they make their way to the small farming town of Gatlin, only to find that every adult has mysteriously disappeared.

As it turns out, a 12-year-old preacher named Isaac (John Franklin) convinced the children of Gatlin to murder their parents as well as anyone over the age of 18. Aided by his henchman Malachai (Courtney Gains), Isaac orders the other kids to hunt down “The Outlanders” (Burt and Vicky), who will be offered as a sacrifice later that evening to “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” of corn.

But with the help of Job (Robby Kiger) and Sarah (Anne Marie McAvoy) - a young brother and sister who have thus far managed to evade Isaac and the others - Burt and Vicky may just find a way to not only outwit the murderous tykes, but end their reign of terror once and for all.

Without a doubt, the strongest aspect of Children of the Corn is its cast. Both Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton (who later that same year would shoot to stardom as Sarah Conner in James Cameron’s The Terminator) make for likable leads, and we root like hell for them to find a way out of this very unusual predicament. Yet the film’s most impressive performances are delivered by John Franklin, who is absolutely menacing in the role of Isaac (Franklin, who suffers from a growth hormone deficiency, was actually in his mid-20s when the film was shot), and Courtney Gains as the even more dangerous Malachai; the scene where he is dragging Vicky through town, trying to convince Burt to come out of hiding, is positively chilling.

Where the film suffers is in the special effects department. Even by 1984 standards, the effects are weak, and as a result the final confrontation between good and evil, set late at night in a cornfield, is more laughable than it is frightening. In addition, the opening sequence, where the kids take over the town, feels rushed and ineffective (apparently, several scenes depicting additional violence against the adults were cut).

But while Children of the Corn may have its issues, the movie’s strengths are impressive enough to make it worth the while of King enthusiasts and fans of 1980s horror alike.
Rating: 7 out of 10

No comments: