Today’s Staff Pick comes from AFF’s Development Director Allison Frady. Here’s her take on George Goldsmith’s adaptation of CHILDREN OF THE CORN.
When we created the staff blogs for this week I instantly knew the film I was going to write about… THE EXORIST written by William Peter Blatty. It’s THE classic scary movie everyone just has to watch at least once in their lifetime.
However, when I went to re-watch the film to refresh my memory on the details, I got scared. It was then that I decided this was the perfect opportunity to explore other classic horror films. I decided that the perfect film would be adapted from quintessential horror stories and thus started searching through films adapted from Stephen King novels. THE CHILDREN OF THE CORN written by George Goldsmith instantly grabbed my attention for two reasons: 1. It was a short story by Stephen King adapted to a feature film and 2. There is nothing scarier than sadistic children.
The film follows the classic scary story plot line of people being stuck in a town and seemingly going in circles to continuously end up where they just came from, the suspenseful music that plays when something bad is going to happen, and the blank faces of the killers. In addition, the 1984 film has that classic 80’s feel of bad clothes, bad music, bad acting, and that yellow car which ironically made the 80’s so great! AND it stars a young Linda Hamilton pre- SARAH CONNER and TERMINATOR.
All of the above is a recipe for success in horror films and for the first hour it did not disappoint! The opening scene leaves you shocked and on the edge of your seat- children killing adults, all led by Isaac, the master mind behind the theory that anyone over 18 must die. The hate and unresponsiveness in the children’s eyes and the glaze over their faces makes the audience scared at the thought of “How can these kids be capable of this?” As the film continues you realize that Isaac is leading the children to believe that this is right and you must follow his ways to survive in the town- there is no escaping as you’ll be hunted down by Malachai and his group of followers. It feels like a bad religious cult, brainwashing people to drink the kool-aid because it was what HE wants of you and you’ll be better off if you follow in the cults footsteps. As an outsider, you feel like screaming and shaking some sense into them but it is so ingrained in their brains nothing can help. The sadistic nature of the children makes the viewer sad that one individual can cause so much harm to so many people.
As the climax of the film approaches and the children start turning on each other for the power of the cult, the plot takes a left turn to “bad-scary-movie-ending” town. It’s not the children or Isaac creating the assumption that all adults should be killed it’s the corn field- literally. The 1980’s version of CGI graphics to create a “spirit” amongst the corn turns out to look like blob or a smoke cloud coming to kill the crops. On the ground, it has Tremors characteristics, that will suck you into the corn field and hold you hostage by wrapping the crops around you. This great classic horror film that makes you afraid to have children and shows the power in numbers turns into a laughable ending that leaves you feeling dissatisfied and wishing that the kids were the real demons.
In the end, I’m glad I watched it so I can now understand all of the CHILDREN OF THE CORN references in pop-culture and have another horror film checked off my “I need to watch this” list. The film also leaves you understanding the innocence of children both good and bad and more importantly, not that children are sadistic but red-heads are sadistic. Forever will I look at my red-headed friends and think of Sarah’s face as she mentions “Malachai is the one putting the adults in the corn field.”
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