Monday, April 19, 2010

Children of the Corn

If you've ever driven through Iowa or Nebraska or any of those corn farming states, then you know the true meaning of boredom: endless stretches of highway, corn, and fuck all. This film does its best to capture that feeling. Hell, it may have surpassed it, proving to be even more boring than an actual drive through Iowa.

At one point in the film, the lead comments "Things just aren't happening fast enough." No shit. Don't think we hadn't noticed.

Things start out well enough, with all the adults of Gatlin, Nebraska being slaughtered one day by the town's children. Under the thrall of child evangelist named Isaac, played by the super-creepy John Franklin, the kids have been convinced to murder all the adults because... well, I don't know why, that isn't ever explained. They just do it, going all Manson Family and hacking them to bits.

It's a pretty good setup. Unfortunately, that's about it for bloodletting for the rest of the film, save for the next scene:

Because this is a Stephen King story, you can count on at least one kid getting killed along the way, preferably in the most gruesome way imaginable. Three years later, one of the boys decides to flee the confines of adult-free Gatlin, and run off to the next town. Too bad for him, Isaac's right hand man, the also-super-creepy Malachi, catches wind of his plan and slits his little throat. But that ain't enough, he's then shoved out into the road where he stumbles into the path of Burt and Vicky’s station wagon.

Burt (pre-thirtysomthing Peter Horton) throws the boy's body in the trunk and heads off looking for town. He and Vicky spend the next five minutes driving in circles, past cornfield after cornfield. If you ever want to experience what it's like to get lost in the Midwest without actually visiting here, just rent this movie: you'll see a lot of corn, a lot of asphalt, and you'll say to yourself over and over "I wonder if we’re getting anywhere."

Burt and Vicky find their way to Gatlin, but the town is deserted. There's corn everywhere, and the lawns are all still mowed, but otherwise, the place is a ghost town. Burt wanders the town and investigates. And investigates. And investigates. This goes on for about thirty minutes. The town is deserted. Yes, we knew that at the beginning of the film, but I guess the director just wanted to hammer that point home.

Eventually, the kids abduct Vicky (Linda Hamilton before James Cameron got his mitts on her) with plans to sacrifice her to He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Jesus, it's about time. An hour into this thing and something finally happens. So who is He Who Walks Behind The Rows? I don't know. He's never shown, aside from being a lump moving under the dirt, which I think, technically, means his name should be He Who Walks Beneath The Rows.

So, now Burt must rescue Vicky from the clutches of Isaac, Malachi, and He Who Walks Behind The Rows. But frankly, by this point, I've pretty much stopped giving a shit what happens.

There follows some weak special effects, and an explosion, but He Who Walks Behind The Rows never shows himself so we don't get to find out if he's a demon, or a monster, or some sort of satanic gopher. But, like I said, by this point I stopped giving a shit.

Directed by Fritz Kiersch • R • 1984 • 93 minutes

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