Children of the Corn

08/28/2018 07:13

Film: Children of the Corn

Year: 1984

Director: Fritz Kiersch

Writer: George Goldsmith

Starring: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton and R.G. Armstrong



This was a film that I had seen when I started to seek out horror films growing up, especially ones that were based on Stephen King works. This one is based off a short story in Night Shift. I was a big fan of the story, even naming my first dog Malachi. The official synopsis for the film is a young couple is trapped in a remote town where a dangerous religious cult of children believes everyone over the age of 18 must be killed.

The concept of this film is terrifying. I didn’t bother me when I was younger, but the moment I turned 18, this film starts to be even scarier. Religion is something that makes me nervous, because of how deeply some people take it and use it to influence all of their decisions. In this we get Isaac (John Franklin). Everyone started to follow him, because he was a child minister. When an entity that lives in the corn, He Who Walks Behind the Rows, starts to tell him what to do, they create a cult that follows its word. The scary thing is, I could see something like this actually happening in an area like we see here in Gatlin, Nebraska. Being in the heart of the Bible belt and if you have a charismatic leader.

The opening sequence of this film is great. It takes place three years before the events of the film and we see Isaac and his followers killing off all of the adults. This is narrated by Job (Robby Kiger). Malachi (Courtney Gains) is the one to actually carry out the acts along with others while their leader looks on.

We then shift to present time. We have a couple in a hotel room. Burt (Peter Horton) is a new doctor and on the way to Seattle to start his new job. With him is his girlfriend, Vicky (Linda Hamilton), who wants him to commit. It is actually his birthday and they are spending it driving across the wilderness of Nebraska. They end up hitting a boy and need to look for help. The thing is and Burt notices, the boy was attacked before they hit him. This brings them to Gatlin.

Something I found interesting watching the film this time is how Fascist their society is. We know that on the start of their 19th birthday, they need to sacrifice themselves to their god. Malachi also doesn’t want them to have any vices. Job and Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy) do sneak off to their old home to listen to music, play games and she likes to draw. Malachi catches them and wants them punished but Isaac sees that Sarah draws images of the future. He believes that she has the ability of sight and that He Who Walks Behind the Rows is giving her these. Also from there is that Malachi doesn’t agree with Isaac and there is dissension between them. I also find this somewhat Lovecraftian. I know King is a big fan of him and this seeming like an elder god that was here before people. There are touches of the supernatural here and they are subtle. I like this as it makes you wonder if it is really happening or just things that seem like it.

The pacing of this film is good. We never really get any lulls and we get tension built throughout. As I said, we get right into the film with the parents being massacred. The couple gets an uneasy feeling when they turn on the radio and the oppressiveness of the corn that is all around them. There is a bit of a supernatural aspect where they try to go to Hemingford Home, but no matter which way they go, they end up closer to Gatlin. We get some POV shots of people watching the couple and it made me feel uneasy. The tension continues to grow until we get to the climax. I thought the ending was fitting for the film and it is built from an image we get earlier. I’m a big fan of callbacks like this.

As for the acting of the film, being that mostly it is done by children and teens, I thought it was pretty solid. Horton I thought was good as the rational, educated adult who is trying to show the children what they are doing is wrong. Hamilton was also solid as the woman who is clinging to the man she loves, but she can’t get him to commit. Their dynamic is interesting and I really liked it. Franklin was really good in his role. He sounds like any religious leader. When everyone is following him, he seems powerful. When Gains tries to take the power and everyone follows him, Franklin becomes weak. What happens at the end is great. I really like Gains as the enforcer. He has such an angry look in this film. The rest of the cast round out the film pretty well for me too.

The effects for this film were interesting. The opening scene and scenes where we get people attacked, they look good. They were done practical and the blood looked real. There were a couple of deaths that I wish they wouldn’t have cut away and showed us a little more. I do get that it would get a little repetitive, so I would want them to change it up a bit. Now to showing He Who Walks Behind the Rows. They have it partly be like a groundhog and moving under the ground like Bugs Bunny. I’m not the biggest fan of seeing the entity as glowing static from a television. It doesn’t hurt the film, but it just was an odd choice. I did like what how they show it as during the climax of the film though.

The soundtrack of the film was decent as well. It really didn’t stand out to me, but it didn’t really hurt the film either. I did like the song that Sarah was listening to in her room. This was on a record player and was actually coming from the film. The score did fit the scenes from what I could remember.

Now with that said, this was a film that I did enjoy. It definitely has its flaws, but none of them really glaring. I find this film interesting that it is still relevant. There is issues with religion that I found interesting and even a fascist society created by it. This film also has a Lovecraft vibe that I also like. I thought the acting was pretty solid across the board. The effects were good for the most part. I did have some issues with some of them, but not enough to ruin the film. The soundtrack doesn’t really stand out, but it doesn’t really hurt the film either. I think there is a deep story here that has some really interesting concepts. I would recommend giving this film a viewing as I think it is good.


My Rating: 8 out of 10