May 14

Children of the Corn

Year: 1984
Country: USA

aka: Horror Kid

Director: Fritz Kiersch
Starring: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong, John Franklin, Courtney Gains


An adult nightmare


The small town of Gatlin in Nebraska has always been safe and quiet. One day that changes forever when the children of the town, under the influence of their leader Isaac, starts to murder every adult person in the town and makes it a safe place to worship their own new religion that centers around “He Who Walks Behind The Rows”.

Three years go by without anyone noticing these macabre events when Burt and his girlfriend Vicky drives through on their way to Burt’s new job in Seattle. When they come close to Gatlin a young boy suddenly appears in the road and they hit him. They try to find help in Gatlin, but instead end up finding themselves in the danger of the children of the town.

Children of the Corn is based on a Stephen King short story with the same title that was first published in Penthouse and later in his own collection called Night Shift. It’s perhaps known today as being the longest running movie series based on a King story with a total of nine films and a short film being produced so far.

As there usually is when something is adapted to the big screen from a short story, some parts feel stretched out and the additions don’t always work. I don’t think that the two good hearted kids added much to the film and would rather just see Burt and Vicky being tormented by every little brat in Gatlin instead. There are also some very crappy special effects in this film, which especially hurt the last part of it. I’m not sure it was even necessary to add a supernatural element to this and think that it would be more creepy if the religion was only in the mind of the children.

What works very well here is the opening scene with the kids taking over Gatlin. It is shot very nicely and the only thing that could have made it better would be to remove the narration by one of the good younger kids of the story. They also found two of the most memorable children villains of all time with the creepy John Franklin as the preacher kid Isaac and the vicious red-haired Courtney Gains as his number one muscle Malachai.

Burt and Vicky are refreshing in that they are not the usual perfect couple that are about to overcome some evil forces in a horror film. They make a very believable couple who might not even stay together as a couple for the rest of their lives, but they are just trying to be the best they can be, flawed or not. Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton does a very nice job together and has enough chemistry and life to make the characters work.

Children of the Corn is a flawed, but good Stephen King adaptation. I do have some very nostalgic feelings towards the film since I did grow up with it and its sequels, but I can’t deny looking back at it today that it is far from being a classic. It is however absolutely worth buying and taking out for a view every now and then. It’s got some memorable characters and a good premise and I still think it’s good entertainment.




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