MARCH 8, 2011
I watched the first few sequels to Children Of The Corn back when they were first released on VHS, giving up after The Gathering (part 4 by my count). It’s been so long that I could conceivably watch them all again for HMAD, but the only thing I DO recall is that I didn’t really care much for them, so I probably won’t bother. And seeing Children Of The Corn: Revelation (part 7) just reminded me: “This is not a very good series of films.”
And even by franchise standards, Revelation is pretty lousy. It follows the structure of the fourth film (with Naomi Watts!), with an attractive young woman going to a Nebraska town and uncovering a mystery, though if memory serves that one had nothing to do with He Who Walks Behind The Rows, so at least Revelation has got one up on it. In fact, to give the series any credit, with that exception (and I may be wrong – it’s been well over a decade after all) they all sort of tied together via that deity. It would/could have been pretty easy to just have a bunch of kids in some Midwestern town killing travelers in each movie, but instead they sort of made a loose mythology about it. Not a GOOD or even interesting mythology, but hey, at least they tried.
It also continues the series’ tradition of tossing in a genre legend for a brief role. Karen Black was in 4, Kane Hodder popped up in 5, and Nancy Allen was in part 6 (which I haven’t seen). Here it’s Michael Ironside, in a wholly useless role as a priest who appears in shadows a couple times, finally introduces himself and delivers some exposition in the 3rd act, and then exits the movie without being spoken of again. It does NOT continue the tradition of featuring early appearances by future big stars though – 3 had Charlize Theron, 4 had Watts, 5 had Eva Mendes... but all we get here is perennial sequel victim Crystal Lowe (Final Destination 3, Wrong Turn 2, etc), who disrobes twice for our pleasure and has the distinction of being the only one with a suspenseful death scene. Most of the deaths occur out of nowhere (particularly the old man neighbor), but hers is built up, with a kid watching her as she bathed and such.
The old man was actually my favorite thing about the movie, since he was so insanely hateful and profane. I don’t think he even had a name; he’d just roll by and call our heroine (the lovely Claudette Mink) a “stupid bitch” or call Lowe a “filthy whore” and go on his way. I actually started wondering why the kids hadn’t killed him much earlier, but this is an apartment building set horror movie, so you know the drill – there are 5-6 colorful tenants all living there, and then our heroine’s arrival springs the killers into action, killing everyone but her.
At least they kill them with their own hands for the most part, though. The climax is largely children-free, as Mink and her love interest are menaced by corn come to life. Look, corn isn’t inherently scary (lettuce, on the other hand...), so just placing it around the town in every nook and cranny (it even grows in the parking lot of the apartment building) was already goofy enough. They certainly didn’t need to “escalate” the corn menace by having it come to life and grow all over the place to block our heroes as they tried to escape the building, or swarm around and pull them back and forth like the rapist tree from Evil Dead. You know what IS kind of scary, though? Creepy little religious cult member children. Let’s have some more of those, less of the damn maize.
Sadly, the Time Warner cable synopsis described a far more interesting film, in which a pair of FBI agents (investigating what they think is a serial killer) run afoul of the murderous children. I don’t know where the hell they got that idea (it doesn’t describe any of the other films, either), but it’s kind of funny how it almost seemed to be the case, because Mink’s character says she’s a reporter but we never see her doing any writing or real research, so I assumed maybe she was an undercover fed and the synopsis gave away what was supposed to be a twist. But no, they were just wrong, and the movie was just lazy (the screenwriter didn’t know how to write for cops either – I don’t think a detective would say “I’ll come over and look for clues.”).
Interesting-ish trivia – director Guy Magar was responsible for Stepfather III, aka the One Without Terry O’Quinn. TV episodes make up the rest of his resume, so I think it’s safe to assume he shouldn’t be trusted with any more franchises. That is, if he’s still alive – despite a pretty consistent output throughout the 80s and 90s, this is his final credit (he’s only about 63 today). But he didn’t write this one – credit goes to SJ Smith, whose only other produced work is a story credit on Silent Night Deadly Night 4, making his IMDB page pretty much the most depressing one I’ve ever found. Including my own, and that has Field of Screams, plus my sole acting credit as a zombie named Deer Poop. Yeah, I win.
What say you?