MAY 23, 2011
For a while, I was convinced Children Of The Corn V: Fields Of Terror might overcome its terrible title and actually be the best of the series, thanks to some wit, fairly likable leads, and a welcome gaggle of cameos from folks like Kane Hodder, Fred Williamson, and David Carradine. But it becomes kind of generic after 45 minutes or so, with the fun, quirky approach abandoned in favor of typical “we have to get out of here!” chase scenes set around barns and other “middle America” fixtures. Still, better than Revelation.
One thing that’s a bit different is that our Final Girl has actually heard about He Who Walks Behind The Rows, as her brother was a budding disciple at the time she ran away from home due to their drunk father’s abuse (sort of like Urban Harvest! Lot of drunk dads in Nebraska, I guess). It doesn’t pay off much; she still needs to read up on it and get shit explained to her, but it gives the movie a minor sense of “history” that the others lacked. I mean, this guy has been responsible for a lot of deaths over the years – it would make sense that someone outside of the area might have heard about him by now.
Sadly we don’t get to really see him this time. As always it’s a bit confusing, but I guess he’s some sort of parasite inside of a human shell, in this case Carradine, a man who had died years ago but was being kept “alive” thanks to He and Ezekiel, the leader of the Corn cult this time around. At one point Carradine’s head splits open and reveals a quick shot of some sort of monstrous being inside, which shoots a fireball at Williamson, causing HIS head to explode. And it’s cool, because Williamson had recently appeared in From Dusk Til Dawn, which was written by and co-starring Quentin Tarantino, who would go on to write/direct Carradine’s minor comeback a few years later with Kill Bill.
Speaking of QT, those guys aren’t the only ties to his work. Corn V sports not one but two Pulp Fiction vets; Alexis Arquette plays the male lead, and Angela Jones (Esmerelda Villalobos!) pops up as half of the requisite “first couple to die”. And for the hell of it I’ll just point out that Eva Mendes made her debut here, playing a 17 year old (actual age during production – 23) that decides to ditch her friends and become one of the, ahem, Children of the Corn, and thus fulfilling the requisite “Future hottie” role filled by Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron in the previous films. So this one definitely has the most recognizable cast (even the little kid playing Ezekiel looked familiar, but he wasn’t nearly as creepy as Eli from Urban Harvest).
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a bit of off-kilter humor that I enjoyed in the first act of the film. Our heroes are driving off to the middle of nowhere to spread the ashes of a recently deceased friend, and they are finding their way via a series of blow up sex dolls that one friend has placed as markers. This results in the first car accident caused by blow up doll that I can recall, not to mention the best inflatable-cartoon based jump scare in cinema history (sorry, Danny Boyle/Scooby Doo). And the resulting accident causes the ashes to spill all over everyone, a morbid sight gag that you may think was stolen from Big Lebowski, but this film was shot before that one was released, so there.
Even more hilarious/morbid is a bit where a deputy shows the sheriff some body parts that he found and then placed in a shopping bag. Sheriff tells him to “put them with the others”, which leads to the deputy clumsily dumping the disembodied hands and such into a body bag (and then squeezing the plastic bag to wring out the excess blood for good measure). Sadly it’s one of the few good gore gags in the movie; this one’s oddly pyro-centric, which means not a lot of the red stuff. One hero blows himself up and takes two kids with him, another hero and the villain are dropped into an “eternal flame” (a new part of the mythology), the same flame that immolates a pair of firemen, etc. And most of the other stuff is off-screen; another villain is tossed over a ledge and then later we see his body on a thresher, mostly concealed by shadows and the quick editing. Come on, show us some impact! It’s DTV, who cares about the MPAA! It’s also oddly lacking in corn; there are two brief chases in/around some corn stalks but otherwise it’s almost all set on interior locations. But I guess that’s what happens when you use Ventura, California for the Midwest; only so much you can do (check out the palm tree next to the main house!).
Echo Bridge’s transfer is shockingly good here; a lot of the movie is set in the daylight and those scenes tend to be the standouts on their other discs (all movies set primarily in the dark). Detail on faces and such is quite vivid (check out the cracks on the lips of our heroine in the final scene), and even the night scenes aren’t as crushed as some of the others. This, for Children of the Corn 5. Whatever.
Haven’t mentioned it yet, but one thing that tickles me about these discs is that they all start with the Miramax logo (the one of the city by the water, with the lights in the buildings forming the company name), even though that logo never appeared on their original releases that (Miramax offshoot) Dimension put out. It’s weird; it’d be like seeing the Heaven/pearly gates version of the LionsGate logo before Saw IV or something. And then Echo Bridge puts their own logo at the very end of the film, which means unless you stick around until the end credits you won’t know who to thank (or blame) for finally putting these DTV sequels on the most superior format ever designed for home viewing. Very silly.
What say you?