Retro Review: Children of the Corn

A DARKNITE review!

Many of Stephen King’s stories have been adapted to film, but I can’t think of any of them that started out with the kind of bang that this one does. A creepy child named Isaac has inspired a revolution among the towns children and they brutally murder every adult living there. When a movie starts out this strong a part of yourself might get nervous that the rest of the film will not be able to match up; and sadly this is the case in this film.

The two leads of this movie, Burt and Vicky are played by Peter Horton and the lovely Linda Hamilton who is obviously enjoying herself in this role and her excitement comes across in every scene she’s in. While enjoyable to watch it does come off as overacting at some points of the film. The pair play a couple on a road trip, when the unimaginable happens and they find a child dead in the road with his throat slit open, forcing them to venture into the town of Gatlin to find help. In the town a pair of siblings are classified as unbelievers and face constant harassment from Isaac’s large ginger enforcer, Malachi.

The idea that our protagonists, the Outlanders, are coming into Gatlin gives new fervor to Isaac who holds his child congregation on his every word by convincing them he confers with, He Who Walks Behind the Rows. As was destined to be the two sympathetic children in the town meet with our young couple, but it is not long before Vicky is taken away by Isaac’s disciples to be sacrificed. In the process of trying to save her, Burt is hunted down by the children throughout the town. During the events in preparations of the coming sacrifice the children very abruptly turn against Isaac, according to Malachi this has been building for some time, yet we have not seen any of this build up in the film.  During this coup de tat Isaac is put in Vicky’s place as the sacrifice.

In the film’s climax an indescribable silly looking mass overtakes, Isaac giving Burt the distraction he needs to free Vicky, from the cult. During the craziness that ensues a storm approaches and a demon possessed Isaac makes his presence known by bringing down the wrath of He Who Walks Behind the Rows upon the other children. It seems as if the filmmakers wanted the supernatural storm occurring to be more violent and earth shattering but what we see on screen is less than enthralling. In order to save the day Burt is forced to set fire to the corn field, something the very crop itself fights against. But inevitably our heroes save the day and prepare to leave the town; the filmmakers try to spring one last scare on us by having a minor character pop back up for one last attempt to kill Burt and Vicky, but this falls flat and could have easily been left out as it adds nothing to the movie.

This movie is a continuation of the theme in horror which came to prominence many years before with films such as; It’s Alive and The Omen where the monster we have to fear are our own children. This idea came about because parents were spending less and less time with their children that they had no clue what would become of them. And in this case the children become susceptible to the preaching of another kid who seems wise beyond his years. Perhaps this can be seen as a commentary on those who follow blindly people in perceived authority. The fact that this movie was produced in the era of Reagan’s America leads credence to this theory as the many of the old fashioned conservative ideologies from the past had reemerged; ideals such as trusting that God was on our side during the Cold War and that our government had our best interests at heart. But perhaps I am reading too much into it.

The villain of the movie Isaac is played well by the young actor, John  Franklin in the beginning of the film, but as the movie unfolds he becomes quite irritating. He is no where near the charismatic fiend that he should have been for the movie to work. Perhaps the biggest failure of this movie is the atmosphere or lack thereof, despite the fact that the darling little children of this town have become vicious killer who are everywhere, we never get a sense of tension that this should have, everything just feels too rushed for the audience to settle in and get the creeps from the mere idea of what is going on. Overall this is not a bad movie, it is in fact a very entertaining movie but there are many problems which prevent it from being the masterpiece that it should be.