Thursday, 12 September 2013

Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

It's my own fault. Before this movie started I had my expectations dialled down to zero. Then I saw Anthony Hickox listed as an executive producer - the movie is directed by his brother, James D. R. Hickox - and special effects created by Screaming Mad George (the man responsible for the unforgettable gloopy brilliance of Society). Unfortunately, none of these people can do enough to make this any less laughable.

Eli (Daniel Cerny) and Joshua (Ron Melendez) are two young boys who move from Gatlin, Nebraska, to Chicago when they're adopted by an unprepared, but well-intentioned, couple (played by Jim Metzler and Nancy Lee Grahn). Joshua starts to enjoy his new high school and blend in with his urban surroundings, but Eli sees nothing but sinners everywhere he looks and he's determined to sort out the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

What really sinks Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest is the performance given by Daniel Cerny. Whether he was given bad direction or whether he just decided to go with the wrong type of performance, I'll never know, but he makes the mistake of going through the entire movie with a demeanour and expressions that are akin to a giant, blinking, neon sign over his head saying: "Evil, evil."

Ron Melendez does better, Metzler and Grahn do okay and Michael Ensign is pretty good as Father Frank Nolan, a man who starts to realise just how evil young Eli is when everything starts slotting into place for the intermittently fun finale. Jon Clair and Mari Morrow also do decent enough work, playing Malcolm and Maria Elkman, the brother and sister who befriend Joshua. In fact, Maria may want to be more than friends. Let's hope that she doesn't upset He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Fans of Charlize Theron will also enjoy seeing her here in her first, uncredited, movie role. She may only be onscreen for less than a minute, but she's still easier to spot than Nicholas Brendon (who also makes his movie debut here, although he is at least credited, albeit as Basketball Player One).

Director Hickox shows that he doesn't have the knack for working with horror material that his brother has, but he does enough to stop the whole thing from becoming absolutely unwatchable. He's not helped by the script, by Dode B. Levenson (with some uncredited writing from Matt Greenberg, according to IMDb), but in the few scenes that allow the special effects by Screaming Mad George to take centre stage it's easy to keep your brain switched off and just enjoy the gore gags.

It's a slight step up from the awfulness of the second movie, but I have a feeling that I'm going to encounter worse as I explore the rest of the franchise.



  1. Again, I had more fun with this than you. But you're right about one thing - it is straight downhill from here. I watched the next three sequels as part of a Kitley's Army assignment last year and it was just suck, suck, suck. (or is that shuck, shuck, shuck?)

  2. I rate the fourth outing on a par with this one, simply for the inclusion of Watts and Black and some fleeting moments of impressive imagery. I can tell you this now as I just watched it today, in case you're wondering. Review will probably be up NEXT week :-)