A young couple (Linda Hamilton, The Terminator, and Peter Horton, TV’s Thirtysomething) gets stranded in a small rural town in Nebraska, where its population consists only of children and teenagers. Soon enough they are confronted with the town’s dark secret.
Reaction & Thoughts:
An enticingly creepy atmosphere and some delightfully nasty bits of business help Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, directed by Fritz Kiersch from a screenplay by George Goldsmith based on Stephen King’s short story, overcome some of the sloppiness of its presentation.
One gets the feeling that the filmmakers didn’t exploit the fullest potential of the premise. Author King’s target was organized religion and Goldsmith’s script preserves that interesting element. Unfortunately, a combination of bad decisions and lack of resources dilute the film’s overall impact. Stephen King’s Children of the Corn was done on a very tight budget and it shows in ways that are off-putting.
The ending is particularly unsatisfying. The evil entity looks like a “4th of July fireworks show” gone wrong — the sub-par visual effects are pretty laughable. I don’t know why they decided to go for the big-bang finale anyway. A little less exposition would have been the right course of action here. In the short story, part of King’s 1978 collection Night Shift, the writer is a bit vague about the monster so it was best to leave the thing up to people’s imagination.
I didn’t care much for the child actors either. The exception is John Franklin, who plays Isaac, the leader of the evil brats. But Franklin is not really a kid; he’s a twenty-something who looks like a little boy. Franklin is credible and therefore scary (scarier than the monster). Hamilton and Horton are just okay. Great character actor R. G. Amstrong (Ride the High Country and Major Dundee) gives the second best performance in the film. He plays a crusty mechanic.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
I’m not going to pretend that this is a great movie. Stephen King’s Children of the Corn has more than a few problems, but I’ve always enjoyed it (guilty pleasure?). It appeals to the 1980s kid in me. And it is much better than any of the seemingly endless sequels and clones. João Fernandes’s atmospheric cinematography and the eerie score by Jonathn Eliasis are pluses. Color, 96 minutes, Rated R.
Followed by Children Of The Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1988)