Monday 20 August 2012

Children Of The Corn (1984)

Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton play a young couple who end up stranded in a small, isolated American town that has actually been taken over by the children and doesn't tolerate the presence of adults. This is largely due to the preachings of young Isaac (John Franklin - AKA the scariest kid on screen ever) and the enforcement of rules by his main henchman, Malachai (Courtney Gains - AKA second-scariest kid on screen ever). The situation goes from bad to worse for the adults and it's a tense battle of wits to see if they can save themselves from being sacrificed to the mighty corn god.

Adapted from a short story by Stephen King, this horror movie impresses more than it should thanks to its central subject matter - killer kids. You can do a lot in horror movies but you rarely show animal cruelty or child fatalities, those are just major no-nos in mainstream horrors, so having a bunch of kids out to kill adults and being retaliated against is refreshing in itself. Things are helped immensely by the fact that all of the young actors are very good (with Franklin and Gains being the most memorable) and Hamilton and Horton aren't too bad either.

Narration is provided by a youngster (played by Robby Kiger) and this is quite a big negative point, it just feels lazy and the viewpoint and speech used is now more than a little cliche when in the context of a Stephen King story.

Okay, so the short story, made into a screenplay by George Goldsmith, doesn't really provide enough decent material for director Fritz Kiersch to make a classic and there's definitely a sagging middle section but you also get a fantastically eerie opening sequence, some goosebumps raised every time Isaac preaches, decent tension throughout despite the diminutive size of the baddies and even an okay ending only really marred by the budgetary limitations that are so obvious in the special effects of the climax.

Looking slightly deeper into the material, whether it's intended or not (and I think it is), you also have an interesting look at religious dogma, how it is interpreted and preached to others in a way that can cause great harm if not questioned or kept in check. In fact, this is a cult movie in every sense.

It's a fun horror - no more, no less - and one that my nostalgic fondness for is shown in my, admittedly generous, rating.

P.S. I have yet to see ANY of the sequels but they will be viewed and the reviews appearing here very soon, for better or worse.


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