The plan here at the vault was to dedicate the month of August completely to babies. But babies grow up to become children and, now that I’m a father, it’s important to raise those babies right. After all, no one wants to let their babies grow up to be psychopaths.
Based on the short story by Stephen King, Children of the Corn follows Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) as they travel through Nebraska on their way to Seattle. Burt hits a young child with his car, but the situation seems fishy so the couple veer into the nearest town, Gatlin, to seek help. Little do they know the children of the town follow the leadership of a creepy child, Isaac (John Franklin), who preaches the ways of He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
The first time I watched the original Children of the Corn, not the remake our resident horror expert covered, or one of its seven painful sequels, I was six and my sister and I were staying with my aunt and uncle .Thanks to my aunt’s quick, remote-control-clicking talents I was unable to watch all the good parts back then, but I saw enough to kickstart my taste for horror.
Isaac is one freaky kid with his creaky, morning-gruff voice and Kai agrees. In fact, Isaac landed squarely on Kai’s Top 10 Creepy-Freak-Deaky Movie Kids list. However, for me, the really scary character in Children of the Corn is Malachai (Courtney Gains) (thanks mainly to that six-year-old ‘s memories). Playing the fugly, red-headed, redneck was Courtney’s big break into showbiz. They couldn’t have cast a better teen for the role because you may forget Isaac, but you will never forget Malachai.
Seeing impressionable children as zealous followers of some dark, primal force is a frightening premise. However, Corn feels stretched to reach the ninety minute runtime. Conversations between Burt and Vicky and the two non-wackadoo children, Job (Robby Kiger) and Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy), are deliberately drawn out. Not bad if hints of the forthcoming conflict are being given during those stints, but the much-needed exposition is held until the final ten minutes where Job has to rattle of major details as if he were John Moschitta, Jr (that’s the Micro Machines Man for all you young folks out there).
Children of the Corn also suffers from significant recurring continuity issues. Those aren’t quite as bad as the cheesy glowing lights and sky effects that are used to represent He Who Walks Behind the Rows. It’s hard to even grant leniency for effects quality at the time; better choices could have been made to craft a more sinister being than a few angry-faced clouds. The $800,000 budget must have all been blown on Isaac’s final scene makeup.
Children of the Corn is still a decent horror movie. It’s part of that era when you could consistently count on a film with the Stephen King moniker to be worth watching… for the story if not for anything else.