Pop Culture Princess

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Bad Movie Month babysits the Children of the Corn

Welcome back,folks, for more of Bad Movie Month where we are somewhat celebrating The Worst of Stephen King.

 A good number of bad Stephen King based movies can be traced back to his first short story collection,Night Shift. The film rights for that book were sold off in the early days of King's career, long before the term "creative control" became many a writer's best friend in Hollywood.

That particular book even has a cameo in one of best examples of how not to make a short story a full length feature, the camp classic Children of the Corn from 1984.

The original tale has a middle aged couple, Burt and Vicky, driving thru Nebraska on a deserted highway where they accidentally hit a child on the road and seek some help from the nearest town called Gatlin.

Turns out, that kid was already a goner and as our hapless heroes discover, the whole town is overrun with creepy kids who worship He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a deity that demands blood sacrifice in exchange for fresh corn crops. I like corn on the cob,too, but that's quite the steep price there!

That sense of mystery is completely blown by the beginning of this movie, as we start things off with a flashback to the slaughter of the grown-ups,ordered by kiddie cult leader Issac(John Franklin).

Narration is provided by young Job(Robby Kiger), whose little sister Sarah likes to do psychic drawings, the kind that any sensible adult looking at them would be immediately reporting to CPS.

Job and Sarah have a strange little subplot going here, as they secretly rebel against Issac and his red headed henchman Malachi(Courtney Gains) by playing board games and listening to records, activities now forbidden by the New World Order in town. Malachi finds their lack of faith disturbing but Issac considers Sarah an asset for her "gift of sight." I swear, at times, this movie plays out like a satanic version of Bugsy Malone:

Meanwhile, a much younger than originally conceived Burt and Vicky(played by Peter Horton and a pre-Sarah Connor Linda Hamilton) hit an escaping corn child while needlessly driving down a back road.

 After placing the body in the trunk of their car(which doesn't potentially make them look suspicious to any strangers they come across for help, not at all!) they make their way to Gatlin and take a hell of a while to buy a clue that the whole place is abandoned and dangerous.

 Gee, everywhere we go in town, no one's around, the phones are out of order and the buildings are crawling with rats and creepy corn themed decorations-guess we should keep looking for help just because we found one kid in a deserted house! Burt is supposed to be a doctor but I suspect that his medical license came out of a box of Cracker Jack:

Eventually, Burt and Vicky are targeted by the corn fed care bears that run this place, with prolonged chase scenes for Burt and a spot on a corn stalk cross for Vicky.

Sure, she gets cut down briefly for Malachi's big "Outlander, we have your woman!" moment but surely, Linda Hamilton deserved a chance to fight back a little against these corny creeps,seriously!

Meanwhile, the more interesting plot line continues as Burt goes around lecturing the cutthroat choir about how they don't use religion the right way at all(it's like listening to internet commenters debate) with Malachi staging a coup over Issac and offering him up to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, who either burrows like a Caddyshack gopher or makes scary cartoon faces when attacked by fire.

During Burt's big scene as he smacks down Malachi, the best part comes when Issac returns from his visit with the Lord High Corndog to avenge himself upon his former right hand man. This whole movie would've been so much better if they had simply stuck with the kids and skipped the adult characters altogether here:

What's truly amazing about the whole Children of the Corn legacy is the number of films that followed. Including the made-for-Syfy channel remake in 2009, there are eight COTC movies, most of which went directly to video.

Granted, the Syfy channel remake did actually stay closer to the source material but other than that, I'm not sure what inspired such a cornsilk silly franchise like this to be born, other than an easy cash-in on King's name and the cult status of the first film. Hopefully, eight is enough when it comes to harvesting this crappy crop of cornball terror.

With that in mind, I hope you'll tune into next week's BBM selection as we take a Maximum Overdrive with Stephen King himself sitting not so pretty in the director's chair while cranking up AC/DC on the soundtrack as loud as he can:

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