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Children of the Corn

By Paul Gaita

The murder rate is as high as an elephant's eye in this flaccid adaptation of Stephen King's short story. While driving through Nebraska en route to a new job, medico Burt (Peter Horton) and his wife Vicky (a pre-Terminator Linda Hamilton) nearly run over a mutilated boy who staggers from the cornfields. Seeking help, they enter the town of Gatlin, whose under-20 residents have butchered their parents per the decree of junior-grade holy roller Isaac (John Franklin), who preaches the word of a being called "He Who Walks Behind the Rows." King's original story (from his 1978 collection Night Shift) was a lean and brutal mélange of Southern-gothic atmosphere and E.C. Comics-style gore, which scripter Greg Goldsmith effectively neutralizes by adding a youthful narrator (a grating Robbie Kiger) and putting an upbeat spin on the story's morbid conclusion. Fritz Kiersch's direction is TV-movie flat, with the sole inspired moment (hideous religious iconography glimpsed during a bloody "service") delivered as a throwaway. Aside from Horton and Courtney Gains (as Isaac's hatchet man Malachai), the performances are dreadful, and the depiction of the Lovecraftian monster-god as a sort of giant gopher inspires more laughter than terror. Amazingly, the film spawned six sequels; Franklin (Cousin Itt in the Addams Family films) later appeared in and wrote 1999's Children of the Corn 666. Anchor Bay's letterboxed presentation is the R-rated theatrical cut (Kiersch's cut was longer and gorier) and includes the original trailer and a booklet outlining the story's transition from page to screen.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Fritz Kiersch

Stars: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong, John Franklin, Courtney Gains, Robby Kiger

Released: March 9, 1984

Availability: DVD VHS


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