Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Short-Cut # 9: "Children of the Corn" by David Pretty

Greeting, Gore Hounds!

Some films can be overlooked when they're first released, but thanks to home video every movie now has a fair shot at finding its audience and achieving cult status.  With all the special edition DVD and Blu-Ray releases for Children of the Corn over the years, I just figured that it had joined those hallowed ranks.  But no, it's just plain hollow. And rank.

Here's the film's ghetto-looking trailer:

In a prologue that leaves precious little to the imagination, we learn how the tiny hamlet of Gatlin inexplicably gave asylum to a fringe group of pre-pubescent death-worshipers.  After the town's cash crop of corn fails, the residents turn to prayer to guarantee a good harvest next year.  The cultists decide to see and raise the evangelicals by staging a coup and then sacrificing all of the adults to a demonic entity called "He Who Walks Behind The Rows".  I would have suggested a judicious application of Miracle- Gro but, hey, whatever works.

Not long after, an annoying married couple (Vicky played by Linda Hamilton and Burt played by Peter Horton) mistakenly run over a kid while driving past Gatlin.  Naturally, instead of burying the brat in a shallow grave and driving on, they try and do the right thing (always a noob move in horror flicks) by bringing the kid's husk (Haw! See what I did there?) back into town in their trunk.

Of course, Gatlin is eerily deserted and perfectly preserved in a bizarre Normal Rockwell/alternate universe sort of way.  After Burt and Vicky encounter a few kids who are opposed to the cult they're forced to contend with a pack of Our Gang rejects armed with spades, shovels, pitchforks, scythes and hoes (*snicker*).  This group is nominally led by a translucent, chromosome-depleted mutant named Malachai who I suspect is single-handedly responsible for my generation's appalling attitude towards gingers.

Naturally this all leads up to an inevitable and cheap-looking finale in which Vicky is captured for sacrifice, the cult's leadership is contested by a pint-sized Republican named Isaac, Burt learns the purifying power of fire, and we find out that "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" is nothing but a second-rate optical effect left over from the original Star Trek.

Honestly, there's really not much of value here.  The dialogue is laughably bad so I suppose the awful performances by the kids can be partially blamed on this.  Since the film hangs it's fright hat on the threat level of the children, this makes Children of the Corn about as scary as an average episode of The Waltons.  Which is to say it's only Michele Bachman scary at best.  

The only decent things here are a couple of atmospheric shots and some cool production design.  Having said that, even "He Who...yada...yada...yada..." is a giant letdown since it's depicted as a crappy glowing red optical effect or a couple of threatening clouds.  OoOoo, look out, kids!  It's gonna rain!

Rain crap, maybe!

The only other compelling thing to watch out for is Linda Hamilton's pup-tent-sized cargo shorts.  Can you imagine a female lead in a horror flick wearing something like that now?

Hopefully this thing doesn't garner any unwarranted attention just because it's old or it's "the firstest horror movie I ever seen."

God, there's soooooo much better out there.

Tilt: down.

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