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Awesome: 19.64%
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Pretty Bad33.93%
Total Crap: 14.29%

2 reviews, 44 user ratings

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Children of the Corn
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by Collin Souter

"In light of its 18 1/2-year Anniversary, it's time to take a second look."
2 stars

I realize this comes a bit early, since its much-anticipated 20th Anniversary doesn’t fall for another year and a half, but nevertheless, I thought it would be a nice time to take a second look at Fritz Kiersch’s 1984 cin-epic “Children of the Corn.” Upon recent viewing, I noticed its timely message (“Religion ain’t done no good”), its innovative storytelling techniques and its ground-breaking, yet homage-paying, use of dead corn. Based on a short story by Stephen King, “Children of the Corn,” despite being a sleeper hit in its day, never got its just due. I’m here to change that.

The movie starts off with a little tyke named Job. He narrates. Right off the bat, director Kiersch makes use of voice-over that I have never seen in any movie. He supplies nothing. It exists as background noise. Nothing Job tells us will mean anything later on. He just yaps and yaps and yaps. Enjoy it for what it is, Kiersch means to tell us. It’s just child-like banter. Think Peter Jennings before puberty. This first scene takes place in a coffee shop where more important information is given by the locals (“Sure is mighty good coffee”) before little kids come in and slit their throats. Only Job escapes.

Meanwhile, or 3 years later, or whatever, a stupid young white couple, Bart and Vicky, gets lost driving through the misty, dreamlike open-ness of Nebraska farmland. I know what you’re thinking. “Manos?” Well, not quite, but you can put these shots of dead cornfields to jazz music and it wouldn’t be much different. I am told Kiersch studied the film “Manos: The Hands of Fate” while setting up shots for “Children of the Corn,” so of course he is paying homage. But his contribution to this now-cliché padding device is one of pay-off (absent in “Manos”): The stupid white guy actually hits something. They hit a kid standing up after he’s been stabbed repeatedly in the middle of a cornfield (hence the title “Children of the Corn”).

They throw the dead kid in the trunk. Mere minutes later, the stupid white girl Vicky has a nightmare about him. They drive around looking for a phone. Nobody has a phone. To try and calm their nerves, they turn on the radio only to hear a preacher man yelling and hollering about fire and brimstone. But so stupid are these suburban dorkos that when they turn on a radio, they don’t try any other knobs. Just the On and Off one.

They pull into a gas station where a crotchety old mechanic, Joseph (Jonas Marlowe), tells them to get out because he’s even more useless than Job’s voice-over. They leave. For this scene, Kiersch improvised on the set by letting Marlowe use snippets from his off-off-Broadway one-man show “I ain’t be done nothing wrong and I ain’t got no gas” as dialogue. Kiersch would intersperse Marlowe’s monologue with stock footage of clouds moving fast, a device Jonathan Demme would try to employ with his Spalding Gray performance art film “Swimming To Cambodia.” Yeah, whatever, Jonathan, you hack!

Anyway… Ruling over the once-peaceful town of Gatlin is 16-year-old Isaac, a cute little demon child who sounds exactly like “South Park’s” Eric Cartman when he shouts, and 16-year-old “Metalhead” Malochai (I added the ‘Metalhead’ part because he looks as though he just stumbled out of a Dio/Scorpion double-bill after a Schlitz binge and a reefer rave). They hold sermons in the middle of the cornfield for all the children in town who axed their parents three years ago (hence “Children of the Corn”). The charismatic and adorable Isaac speaks of the coming of the stupid white people (a.k.a. Interlopers). He speaks with fury holding the children spellbound. “Kill, kill, kill…killing is good…we must kill…kill, kill, kill…and the Lord sayeth to me, you’re not killing enough…you need to kill more…” These sermons aren’t that much different from your average Pokemon fan club meeting, seriously.

Meanwhile, Burt and Vicky drive around looking for a phone while trading observations such as, “There’s something weird about this place” and “Things just aren’t happening fast.” Eventually, they run into Job and his sister who draws stuff that will happen later in the movie, a storytelling technique Kiersch bravely attempts at the risk of watching his audience leave the movie 20 minutes early (may as well).

Vicky gets captured while Burt looks for a phone. The so-called Children of the Corn (hence the title) strap Vicky to a crucifix made of the best Nebraska corn the state of Nebraska has to offer and stand it up, a scene Martin Scorsese has often cited as a personal inspiration behind the crucifixion scene in his little movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ.” The problem with Scorsese’s movie, however, is that he didn’t employ scary chant music to give it the full effect. In Kiersch’s film, chanting voices can be heard saying “Mor…is…ee…coo…kee!” This of course means “Morrissey Cookie,” which means the lead singer of The Smiths is hungry and wants a cookie. Nice try anyway, Marty!

The movie’s ending has a deft urgency about it. The stupid white couple and the two do-gooder little tykes get away with their lives and throats intact. In a lush, wide high angle shot, the characters move away from their car as the credits begin to roll. It’s as though you can hear director Kiersch yelling to them, “Guys. Guys. Just walk out of frame. We’re going to end the film here. That’s it. We’re done. Just walk out of frame. Thank you. That’s a wrap.”

So, did I happen to mention the historical significance of “Children of the Corn?” One scene occurs in which the stupid white guy, Burt, gets attacked by branches and ears of corn, a scene completely ripped-off by Sam Raimi for “Evil Dead II.” Furthermore, an underground thinga-ma-gigee makes its way toward the human characters, which today we note as being similar to the underground mutant worms in “Tremors.” Suffice to say, if it weren’t for Fritz Kiersch’s “Children of the Corn,” there would obviously be no “Swimming To Cambodia,” “Tremors,” “Evil Dead II” or “Last Temptation of Christ.”

So, obviously, I’m not just talking about the number of sequels it spawned (which will be studied and analyzed at a later date). While it does hold the distinction of being the first film series involving demonic children to reach the “Part 666” mark, “Children of the Corn” (originally titled “Taliban Tykes”) also distinguishes itself by being one of the stupidest and most worthless films ever made.

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originally posted: 06/17/02 14:39:59
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User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell IT SUCKS read the short story instead 1 stars
1/07/13 Martel732 AKA:Leftist Stephen King is Racist against White people,Iowa & Middle America.FUCK YOU 1 stars
12/11/12 Jamie Great movie, never tire of seeing it. 5 stars
12/16/11 Dr.Lao It just doesn't work 2 stars
6/21/10 Sarah The original story was crap, but they made the film into a classic. 5 stars
4/28/08 Chrissy Wei The orignal story is not bad. It's a cult classic. You either like it, or you dont'. 4 stars
10/01/07 Ty Shaw Cult favorite, one of the greatest 5 stars
8/21/07 TigerSlap This is a suck-fest so bad, you want to smash the DVD - and it is a rental! 1 stars
3/03/07 Lexicondevil Really, Malachi was much scarier in the back row of shop class 2 stars
10/02/06 Brandon the only thing that made it scary is the music 4 stars
6/20/06 Pee wee herman I LOVED THE MOVIE!!!!!! 5 stars
5/15/06 nikki abrahams i think it good! but some bits are sooooo boring! 3 stars
4/11/06 Sugarfoot I loved the original short story, but the only thing this has going for it,is mood. Unscary 2 stars
1/03/06 cody a short story of stephen turn into a scary classic with linda to boot, good movie 4 stars
3/13/05 Danny Not terribly scary, but rather original plot as horror films go. Horton is a crappy actor. 3 stars
2/14/05 Jeff Anderson Not as bad as they said & okay! Both leads are pathetic, but Gains & Franklin are great!!!! 3 stars
10/31/04 Richard forgive my language, but it's total sh*t 1 stars
10/05/04 Rob F This movie is totally a cult classic, I love it! 5 stars
10/04/04 Samuel I though it was a pretty decent film, But like ASG said it could have easily been better. 3 stars
10/03/04 Matt Terrible, but not in a good way, no further comment warranted 1 stars
1/26/04 Eric Best of the seies. The rest were "He who walks behind the Toillet" 4 stars
11/23/03 J INCREDIBLE!!!! *** 1/2 out of **** 4 stars
11/02/03 demondan good movie, great to analyse 4 stars
11/02/03 American Slasher Goddess Watchable and it does have it's moments, but it easily could have been better. 3 stars
9/15/03 gaby rodriguez IT IS SO COOL 5 stars
7/22/03 Double G eh 2 stars
3/08/03 I love de women because you you cockeat-dog world You so dykey bitchy-witchy transsexual 3 stars
12/31/02 Jack Sommersby Passable, directed with energy, but scripting is awful. 3 stars
10/27/02 Anne C. People thought THIS was scary? Maybe the Sci-Fi Channel cut too much, to fit in more ads. 2 stars
10/20/02 Charles Tatum Can you believe the sequels get worse? 2 stars
4/03/02 Vitality1 It's more fun to start with number 6 and move backward through the series. 4 stars
1/28/02 chaz swann good movie bad sequels 5 stars
10/23/01 Andrew Carden Just Isn't Scary, and Very Confusing Movie. King Needed Alot Of Touch-Ups. 1 stars
6/03/01 Sean The best and Scariest Movie 5 stars
4/22/01 Unknown Remember this could happen to any small town: everybody should see this film. 4 stars
1/03/01 kevin It was okay, uhh much better than the 2 and 3 and 4 etc. get worse as you go along 3 stars
11/24/00 kyrie munk very good!!!as long as you don't get paid to b*tch at movies. 5 stars
10/09/00 Vicky Griffiths quite interesting to watch but not enough blood & guts but ok 3 stars
3/24/00 Lesley tried to watch it 3 times - got 1st half hour 2 stars
3/09/00 Orooky A mess, but fun 5 stars
10/08/99 kristie this movie rules 5 stars
7/24/99 Bend Meover Any movie based on Stephen King stuff sucks by definition. 1 stars
6/14/99 Dylan A little cheesy - thats not a bad thing where horror is concerned though. 4 stars
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  09-Mar-1984 (R)

  N/A (18)

  12-Jul-1984 (M)

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