Children of the Corn (1984)

Article 4405 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-28-2013
Directed by Fritz Kiersch
Featuring Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong
Country: USA
What it is: Killer kiddie horror

A young couple finds themselves stranded in a Nebraska town inhabited only by children who have killed all the adults in the town… and plan to sacrifice any new ones that show up.

I remember that when this first came out, the critical reaction was that this was the weakest movie based on a Stephen King work to date. I’m pretty sure that worse ones have been made since, but I do agree that it’s the weakest one I’ve seen so far. It’s not that the movie doesn’t try; with a musical score that seems to be in perpetual “This is really scary” mode and the endless close-ups of the edged weapons being carried by the murderous teens, it’s obvious that the movie is trying to put you on edge. But the script is poorly though out, and it ends up having an “everything but the kitchen sink” quality about it, with, on top of the killer kids, a burrowing monster-demon in the cornfield, human sacrifice, possession, killer plants… I get the sense it’s just trying everything and seeing what sticks. I know I stopped taking it seriously once I heard the line “He was already dead when he stumbled across the highway.” It must have worked well enough for audiences in that it did result in a slew of sequels, though I can’t help but notice it took them eight years to get around to making the first one. I personally think the movie would have worked better if it had used the innate claustrophobic quality of a cornfield to increase the tension (with the use of silence and ambient sounds instead of the musical score); as it is, I found this one pretty disappointing.

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