As horror franchises go, the Children Of The Corn movies were never in the upper echelon. In fact, it’s easy to forget that the franchise was somehow spun out into eight films (the first three will be available as a box-set at the same time as this). Going back to the original, however, you can see the seeds (sorry) of an interesting idea. Children Of The Corn plays on a couple of distinct classic horror phobias: of children and of the rural American south.
Based on the Stephen King short story, it finds Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) travelling across the country for his new job as a doctor. Unfortunately for them, they have to pass through Gatlin, a small farming town surrounded by cornfields, where the local children decided to kill all the adults at the urging of sinister holy boy Isaac (John Franklin). Can they escape without being sacrificed to He Who Walks Behind The Rows?
There’s plenty here to remind you of why this film became something of a late-night TV classic. From the opening sequence in which the children butcher the adults enjoying their post-church meal at the diner and the surprisingly grisly rituals, to the image of whatever the hell is tunnelling through the rows of corn, it’s confident and fairly confrontational. Best of all is Franklin as Isaac, whose sinister stare and chilling voice hold up much better than most of the rest of the film.
On the other hand, there’s the grown-ups. There’s a very good reason why the South Park episode that spoofed the film pointed out how clunkily their relationship is painted (he’s got an incredible job opportunity, she wants commitment), and there are some weird moments of attempted comedy that remind you that you’re not quite watching a classic.
As a short story adaptation, it does suffer from periods of wheel-spinning, there are some truly ropey effects towards the end of the movie, and frankly it doesn’t all work, but there’s enough here to show that your nostalgia for the movie with the weird kids and corn monsters isn’t entirely misplaced.