31 Days of Horror, 4 days in, and I’m Stephen King’ing it up with Children of the Corn (1984). I bet all y’all are expecting me to say that is another dud, but NOPE! As dated as it is, I am still genuinely scared by this movie because it combines two of the things I am most afraid of: a remote country location and a bunch of off-the-rails religious zealots, murdering people in the name of the Lord — only in this case, the lord is known as “he who walks behind the rows.” *shiver*
Poor Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicki (Linda Hamilton). They’re just driving through Nebraska on the way to Seattle (!!!) so they can start a new life together, when they accidentally hit a boy and then end up in Gatlin trying to find help. Unfortunately, the creepy, mostly deserted small town is ruled by a gang of children who believe that they have to sacrifice anyone over 18 in order to make the crops grow. Or something. I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter, because the lead preacher kid, Issac, is fucking terrifying, as is his red-headed second in command, Malachai. No I mean it. I had nightmares about both of these kids for YEARS. Years.
Anyway, at some point while Vicki and Burt are running around with a couple of little kids who don’t want any part of this madness, Malachai gets all power-mad and stages a coup, taking over leadership duties, Vicki ends up tied to a corn cross — and so does Issac — and Burt has to think fast in order to save them all. I mean, all except the crazy ones who keep trying to stab him.
Sure, the end is kind of cheesy when He Who Walks Behind the Rows actually shows up, but those kids, man. THOSE FUCKING KIDS. The prologue where they show the parents being slaughtered is one of the only splatteriffic moments in this film, but it’s pretty boss. These fucking KIDS crafted their own totally crazy religion, and then slaughtered all the adults in the entire town, and THEN continued to murder any other adults that wandered through it for years, in addition to killing themselves when they got too old. GAHHHHHH. Horrifying.
If you’re like me and this is the kind of stuff that scares you, I recommend it. I wish I could say the same thing about its SEVEN sequels, but I quit somewhere around number 4 because they were all boring and terrible. And so was the 2009 TV remake, which almost put me to sleep waiting for the good parts … of which, there were none. Part of the problem was that remake Issac and Malachai were sooooo lame. And it turns out King wrote that screenplay … which was originally for this version, but Director Fritz Kiersch was like, “NO.” and had another dude rewrite it instead. Good call, Fritz.
So, YES to the 1984 Children. NO to the 2009 Children. And YOU SHOULD NEVER WATCH ANY OF THE SEQUELS, EVER, even on a dare. In fact, if someone dares you to watch any of them, just say, “Fuck you” and then punch them in the neck.