aka Stephen King’s Children Of The Corn
92 min., 1984
Written by Stephen King/George Goldsmith
Directed by Fritz Kiersch
My rating: ★★★★
Redhead kids never scared me until I just watched this movie.
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We begin in the small town of Gatlin, Nebraska with a voiceover by little Job (Robby Kiger). He tells us a little bit about some of the stuff that happened three years ago. You see there is a group of kids that go into the corn field and have started their own cult led by Isaac Chroner (John Franklin). Job and his sister Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy) weren’t allowed to go to the field because their parents thought that Isaac was a little weird. One day after church at the local shop, some kids enter and lock the door. They turn on the adults and start to kill them off leaving Job with a look of shock on his face. We jump to “present day” where Burt Stanton (Peter Horton) and his girlfriend Vicky Baxter (Linda Hamilton) are traveling down a road. While driving they end up hitting a kid who was in the middle of the road. After some inspection Burt, who is a doctor, notices that the boy’s throat had been cut before he was hit. They take the body and try to find the nearest town. They talk to an old man (R.G. Armstrong) at a gas station who tells them to pass Gatlin and go to the next town. After driving for a while and ending up back at the gas station they decide that Gatlin is the only logical place to go. How will they handle the killer children and “He Who Walks Behind The Rows”?
Overall the acting in the movie is actually pretty darn good. I was expecting time to not be so good to the movie, but I was surprised how well it’s aged. Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton both do a really good job and make both of their characters pretty believable, but the best of the best has to go to the kids. As I have stated numerous times before, I hate kid actors. Most should be sold as circus midgets until they finally grow up, but there are some that break the mold and prove me wrong. This movie is a great example of that. First off we have John Franklin, and yes I know that he wasn’t actually a kid but he looks enough like one to count him among them. He was great. He looks like the kinda kid/guy that you see walking down the street and you are compelled to switch sides. He has a great deal of intelligence behind those childlike eyes and he is always looking like he is planning his next move. Great performance from John Franklin, but the creepiest and best performance hands down goes to Courtney Gains. He plays Malachai Boardman who is a lackey to Isaac. He looks like a nice kid, but when he yells to kill the outlanders, holy shit you know that he means it. There is no question in his acting and everything he does has a passion behind it. He is a kid that can look you in the eyes and convince you that he is your best friend, but then give you a look that will make you shit your pants.
One of the best and worst parts about this movie is the effects. It’s a strange balancing act between the crap and great. You have a great effect with the kid getting hit by the car, but then you have the shit effect of He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Then again you have scenes where your mind creates the deaths like the meat slicer (still one of my favorites), but then you have the worst effects shoved in your face like He Who Walks Behind The Rows. I know that I have been harping on that effect and I do understand that there are budget constraints, but man they should have just left him up to the audience’s imagination. Then again if they showed nothing people would have been really pissed, so I guess I understand why they did what they did, I just don’t have to like it. But overall the effects are really good and they have aged quite well.
In the end this movie is still really great. There is a touch of age that creeps through during a few scenes, but overall age has been really kind. The story is still powerful and even though I hate kids as a rule, I think that they can make some great villains, with Isaac and Malachai being two great examples of this. Another thing that I really like about this movie compared to modern horror is that once the terror starts, there is no time for joke telling and there is little time for a breather. I’m not saying you’ll be on the edge of your seat or anything like that, but at least there isn’t a joke every five minutes or a scene for people to “relax” to. If you have a chance to check this one out again and you may be surprised how good it still is.Have You Read...?