Streaming Saturday: Children of the Corn (1984)

children_of_the_corn

Director: Fritz Kiersch

Writers: George GoldsmithStephen King (short story)

Stars: Peter HortonLinda HamiltonJohn FranklinCourtney Gains

I wanted to make the original Carrie my Stephen King Week streaming pick of the week. But sleep deprivation got the best of me this week and I didn’t finish the book in time to rewatch the movie. Besides, I already devoted my Trailer Tuesday post to the remake.

So I settled for Children of the Corn.

Based on Stephen King’s short story of the same name (found in his Night Shift collection), the 1984 movie spawned a franchise of several, mostly straight-to-video, sequels. It’s the story of a couple stranded in a ghost town inhabited by a cult of murderous children.

You wouldn’t really expect a franchise from this first movie, though. It’s pretty average and despite having a 92 minute runtime, it’s not very well paced.

The violence is mostly implied. Whether the movie is simply dated or the filmmakers cut corners to save money, the gore is presented mostly off-screen. When blades are shown drawing blood from skin it’s obvious there is no break in the skin (or, rather, makeup effects to show a break).

childecorn

Isaac (John Franklin) runs the cult and Malachai (Courtney Gains) is his second in command, of sorts. Franklin does a surprisingly good job playing the fanatical child preacher. Gains, on the other hand, is over the top. That’s to be expected, though. Child actors are a gamble and this isn’t Game of Thrones. For the most part, the child actors are good.

Ultimately, it’s the filmmaking that prevents this movie from leaving a more favorable impression on me. The plot is interesting and the setting gives a good, disturbing, atmosphere. But the editing isn’t quite up to snuff. Scenes where a character hears an ominous noise are edited in a way that makes it hard to buy into any sort of suspense. The cuts are quick. It would be better if there was time to establish and explore the atmosphere of the scene.

In the last act, the movie takes a turn that is classic Stephen King. Even though the special effects aren’t that great by today’s standards, the shift in the story came at a time when the movie really needed it. The creepy atmosphere of the town works for the first 20 minutes but then it gets kind of dull.

All in all, Children of the Corn had its moments. But I doubt I will ever watch it again.

You can stream it on Netflix

You can buy it on Amazon

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