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Overall Rating
2.93

Awesome: 19.64%
Worth A Look: 16.07%
Just Average: 16.07%
Pretty Crappy33.93%
Sucks: 14.29%

2 reviews, 44 user ratings


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Children of the Corn
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by Jack Sommersby

"Lackluster Stephen King Adaptation"
2 stars

About as frightening as a fly on a drinking glass, it has all the panache of an industrial-training video.

With more atmosphere and some compression, Children of the Corn, an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story, could’ve possibly been something. As it is, it’s mildly diverting and adorned with fine starring performances by Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton, but too many times you’re all too aware of the chalk marks it just isn’t hitting -- not to mention, it isn’t even remotely scary. I don’t know if there was a whole lot of potential here, for most short stories simply don’t have the girth to sustain a feature-length running time, but I do know the debuting director Fritz Kiersch and screenwriter George Goldsmith have managed at most no more than thirty minutes of viable entertainment value. During the prologue, set in the small rural town of Gatlin, Nebraska, we witness several teenagers viciously slaughtering the adult patrons of a diner who’ve gone there after church services; we’re informed via voiceover by Jobe, an eight-year-old, whose father was one of the slaughtered, that this was three years ago, when the children of the town were under the hypnotic spell of the thirteen-year-old minister Isaac, who convinced his juvenile flock that it was God’s will to carry out this rampage, which extended to taking out all of the adults of Gatlin that fateful day (though the rest of these killings aren’t shown, which is an admittedly tactful ploy in that we’re made to recreate them in our fertile imaginations). It’s now the present day, and the recent medical-school graduate Burt and his girlfriend Vicky, driving the back roads to Burt’s residency in Seattle, inadvertently wind up running over a teenager in the road, with Burt finding this was no car accident -- the teenager’s throat had been slit somewhere in the cornfield before he had stumbled onto the road. Wanting to report this to the authorities, they put the corpse in their trunk and drive to the nearest town, which just happens to be Gatlin. And this is where the plot mechanics start creaking. An elderly mechanic they happen upon on the outskirts of the town convinces them to go to a town nineteen miles further on down the road, and though we’re later informed this crusty old geezer has been supplying Isaac with fuel, we can’t help but wonder why the man has chosen to remain subservient to Isaac; and since the road signs have been tampered with, we’re also curious why a Gatlin sign does indeed lead directly to Gatlin. Burt and Vicky do make their way there, where they find a deserted downtown that looks like the Black Plague had been unleashed upon it: the storefronts are dilapidated and the interiors contain non-working phones and endless stalks of corn; most logical people would immediately sense something’s awry and make a beeline to another town, but just so the story can progress Burt and Vicky have been made considerably slow on the uptake, and just so they can stumble upon Gatlin’s terrible secret, which finds them vying up against Isaac and his followers, including his quintessentially violent second-in-command Malachai who favors any number of sharp farm instruments to carry out the dastardly deeds assigned to him by his master. In a way, the movie functions as something of a youth version of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York yet without that cult classic’s color and verve.

In what is one of the movie’s numerous missteps, we’re never given enough information as to how Isaac has succeeded in keeping “outlanders” and “interlopers” away from Gatlin all this time. What, none of the family members of the murdered residents have bothered to check up on them? The slain police chief’s disappearance hasn’t warranted an investigation from an outside department? How have the children been providing food and water for themselves? And since when someone turns nineteen they’re sacrificed to the monstrous He Who Walks Behind the Rows, and we see no babies in the community, wouldn’t this ultimately result in this cult’s extinction? Mind you, one doesn’t go into something like Children of the Corn expecting rock-solid plausibility, but with all the abundant plot holes, along with the pure idiocy of Burt leaving Vicky alone in a house while he goes to see if he can find the City Hall building just so she can conveniently be captured, the majority of the proceedings are odious to say the least. (Besides, couldn’t the nearest town be at least a hundred miles away rather than less than twenty to at least give the story some semblances of validity? And how could Jobe’s hiding place in a bomb-shelter basement where he takes Burt to recuperate from a knife wound have remained undetected when the unlocked, above-ground entrance is clearly visible?) But the movie isn’t a complete failure. Kirsch gives it his limited all, and a few of his compositions are more than par for the course (especially one through the slats of a bench in the downtown area where Burt is wandering); and when Burt interrupts a sacrificial ritual and proceeds to lecture on selective Bible reading, the stinging point more than gets across. Kiersch certainly wishes to give the audience bang for their buck, and as far as I see he hasn’t slouched, but he just doesn’t possess the necessary rudiments of his craft in ably staging scenes and juxtaposing them for a clear overall effect -- he lacks the ability of constructing an organic vision. And when he was staging the talking-heads scenes involving the children, couldn’t he clearly see that, while Courtney Gaines is reasonably menacing as Malachai, John Franklin as Isaac is a major letdown? This five-foot-tall shrimp emanates nothing in the way of charisma or power, so we’re nonplussed and baffled why the others have been duped into ceding to his each and every demand. He comes off more as a prissy boarding-school brat than an inimical imp. And the subpar, computer-generated special effects are just as lackluster -- we never do get a look at He Who Walks Behind the Rows, aside from seeing its huge bulge in the soil moving toward its victim, and when its fiery demise finally occurs, the roaring face it forms in the explosion looks awfully like something from that old-time arcade game Missile Command. About seventy percent of Children of the Corn is mere filler material, and even at a mere ninety-two minutes it feels overlong. Compare this with the excellent Lewis Teague-directed horror anthology Cat’s Eye, which featured three segments scripted by King (two from his short stories, and one an original), and it’s clear that’s how King’s Children of the Corn story should’ve been scaled to. The movie is as listless and dull as those all-encompassing Nebraska cornfields.

For fans of the movie, the special-edition DVD from the good folks at Anchor Bay Entertainment is full of interesting extras.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2044&reviewer=327
originally posted: 05/04/15 10:06:47
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User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell IT SUCKS read the short story instead 1 stars
1/06/13 Martel732 AKA:Leftist Stephen King is Racist against White people,Iowa & Middle America.FUCK YOU 1 stars
12/10/12 Jamie Great movie, never tire of seeing it. 5 stars
12/15/11 Dr.Lao It just doesn't work 2 stars
3/31/11 PAUL SHORTT STYLISH BUT SILLY AND TACKY 1 stars
6/20/10 Sarah The original story was crap, but they made the film into a classic. 5 stars
4/28/08 Chrissy Wei The orignal story is not bad. It's a cult classic. You either like it, or you dont'. 4 stars
9/30/07 Ty Shaw Cult favorite, one of the greatest 5 stars
8/21/07 TigerSlap This is a suck-fest so bad, you want to smash the DVD - and it is a rental! 1 stars
3/02/07 Lexicondevil Really, Malachi was much scarier in the back row of shop class 2 stars
10/02/06 Brandon the only thing that made it scary is the music 4 stars
6/19/06 Pee wee herman I LOVED THE MOVIE!!!!!! 5 stars
5/15/06 nikki abrahams i think it good! but some bits are sooooo boring! 3 stars
4/10/06 Sugarfoot I loved the original short story, but the only thing this has going for it,is mood. Unscary 2 stars
1/02/06 cody a short story of stephen turn into a scary classic with linda to boot, good movie 4 stars
3/12/05 Danny Not terribly scary, but rather original plot as horror films go. Horton is a crappy actor. 3 stars
2/13/05 Jeff Anderson Not as bad as they said & okay! Both leads are pathetic, but Gains & Franklin are great!!!! 3 stars
10/31/04 Richard forgive my language, but it's total sh*t 1 stars
10/04/04 Rob F This movie is totally a cult classic, I love it! 5 stars
10/03/04 Samuel I though it was a pretty decent film, But like ASG said it could have easily been better. 3 stars
10/02/04 Matt Terrible, but not in a good way, no further comment warranted 1 stars
1/26/04 Eric Best of the seies. The rest were "He who walks behind the Toillet" 4 stars
11/22/03 J INCREDIBLE!!!! *** 1/2 out of **** 4 stars
11/01/03 demondan good movie, great to analyse 4 stars
11/01/03 American Slasher Goddess Watchable and it does have it's moments, but it easily could have been better. 3 stars
9/14/03 gaby rodriguez IT IS SO COOL 5 stars
7/21/03 Double G eh 2 stars
3/07/03 I love de women because you you cockeat-dog world You so dykey bitchy-witchy transsexual 3 stars
12/30/02 Jack Sommersby Passable, directed with energy, but scripting is awful. 3 stars
10/26/02 Anne C. People thought THIS was scary? Maybe the Sci-Fi Channel cut too much, to fit in more ads. 2 stars
10/19/02 Charles Tatum Can you believe the sequels get worse? 2 stars
4/02/02 Vitality1 It's more fun to start with number 6 and move backward through the series. 4 stars
1/27/02 chaz swann good movie bad sequels 5 stars
10/22/01 Andrew Carden Just Isn't Scary, and Very Confusing Movie. King Needed Alot Of Touch-Ups. 1 stars
6/02/01 Sean The best and Scariest Movie 5 stars
4/21/01 Unknown Remember this could happen to any small town: everybody should see this film. 4 stars
1/02/01 kevin It was okay, uhh much better than the 2 and 3 and 4 etc. get worse as you go along 3 stars
11/24/00 kyrie munk very good!!!as long as you don't get paid to b*tch at movies. 5 stars
10/08/00 Vicky Griffiths quite interesting to watch but not enough blood & guts but ok 3 stars
3/24/00 Lesley tried to watch it 3 times - got 1st half hour 2 stars
3/09/00 Orooky A mess, but fun 5 stars
10/08/99 kristie this movie rules 5 stars
7/23/99 Bend Meover Any movie based on Stephen King stuff sucks by definition. 1 stars
6/14/99 Dylan A little cheesy - thats not a bad thing where horror is concerned though. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  09-Mar-1984 (R)

UK
  N/A (18)

Australia
  12-Jul-1984 (M)




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