Steven King (short story) and George Goldsmith (screenplay)
Peter Horton as Burton Stanton
Linda Hamilton as Vicky
John Franklin as Isaac Chroner
Courtney Gains as Malachi
Now granted, I may be showing my years with this review, but believe it or not I was only 11 years old when Children of the Corn was first released in 1984. I saw it for the first time two years later at an all-girl sleepover during my friend Joanna’s Bat-Mitzvah. We were young and wild, both Jewish and Gentile, and we wanted to be scared so we rented Children of the Corn. Boy, were we scared!
All I really remember from my first viewing of the movie back then was hearing this really scary, demonic, guttural, right from the depths of hell voice yell out near the end of the movie “MALACHI!!!” Well, I was scared out of my wits then and 21 years later, this one still scares me.
The coolest part about watching this classic horror movie again was that I discovered it was written by Steven King. I happen to be a huge Steven King fan, so I guess it was perfectly appropriate that I be scared senseless 21 years ago by one of his stories even though I had scarcely heard of the man back then.
Children of the Corn hits the ground running with a gruesome slaughter scene initiated by Isaac (John Franklin) within the first five minutes of the movie. The beginning of the story is narrated by a boy named Job (Robby Kiger) who tells us that he was the only kid in church that day because the other kids were out in the field with Isaac – child prophet, preacher and harbinger of doom. You have got to wonder why in the heck the parents let their kids go to a church in the middle of a corn field led by a psychotic teen preacher who looks like a midget caught in a child’s body. Is it any wonder that the children decide to poison the coffee, hack up all the adults, bury them in the corn fields and start their own “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” Cult?
And of course, there is the unsuspecting young couple (Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton) who happen into town, bright eyed and bushy tailed on the road toward their destiny – which unfortunately will include vehicular dead-man slaughter and battles with the teenage Jim Jones, sickle wielding cult types and the actual powers of darkness.
Incidentally, the inclusion of a battle against a real demonic power is what helped to make Children of the Corn one of the best horror films of all time. Tangible enemies are one thing, but when you’re battling against a force of darkness that lurks among the corn, devours children and adults and has a pretty good sense of direction, you’re really in for something.
I fell in love with Children of the Corn 21 years ago and I l still love it in 2007. Isaac was just as creepy and scary as I remember him being. Malachai (Courtney Gains), however, was a lot more sick and twisted then I recall.
A few words of advice for those travailing on lonely Nebraska roads where all signs point to Gatlin: If you see strange biblical slogans scrawled on the walls in blood and corn stalks and corn crucifixes where coffee makers and car engines should be, it’s a safe bet that you are “Not Safe” – which is the opposite of what Burt (Peter Horton) foolishly told Vicky (Linda Hamilton).
Next time, I trust, they will high tail it out of town with all due haste.