by Andrew Mooney
Children of the Corn (1984) – Fritz Kiersch (Dir.), Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, a bunch of stupid children and one or two not stupid children
Sometimes in life, all you want to do on a Sunday, the looming specter of a fierce head cold working its infectious way throughout your mucous-making passages, is to curl up in bed with a silly movie and allow the dulcet tones of women getting stabbed in the naughty bits while people ask dumb questions like “Is that you, Connie?” as a chainsaw revs up in the shadows lull you into a restorative and peaceful sleep. Sometimes you want to tell the world, “You know what? I give up. I can’t take it anymore.” With the pressures of work and watching Species with your girlfriend’s grandfather (article forthcoming), you beg the universe to stop the Earth on its eternal celestial cycle and offer even a sliver of respite in this cataclysmic life. So, I did. I did just that. And let me just say, for all the Internet to hear, as God and that weird golden cow statue as my witnesses:
CHILDREN OF THE CORN CAN GO FUCK ITSELF
All I wanted…all I begged for was a simplistic silly horror film with enough competency to simply say goodbye as I set off on the USS Forty Winks to the land of Go-The-Fuck-To-Sleep. I could have chosen The Avengers. I could have watched Thor. Or maybe some House M.D. But NOOOOO Andrew had to be an asshole and go into the fucking Halloween section of Netflix and think to himself, “Huh, I’ve never seen Children of the Corn, that sounds fun.” I’m a goddamn idiot. This movie filled me with such abhorrent and pestilent rage that I am now in a fucking bar, my cold be damned, drinking and fuming over a keyboard. Seriously, no, like, seriously, Children of the Corn might just be the stupidest fucking movie I have ever encountered. Like, there are middleschoolers who cannot point out the US on a world map who have a higher IQ than this turd. I think I have vomited more intelligence after 10 Irish Car Bombs than that travesty that just burned its hole in my iPad Netflix app. What cruel God, what demon in control of this pitiful universe was responsible for the existence of this fecal excuse for filmic flimsiness?
Alright, background. The movie starts on an incredibly promising foot. A bunch of kids murder a diner filled with old people. Sweet. Some dude gets his hand in a meat slicer and a kid’s milkshake gets covered in gore. Awesome sauce. Great start. I wish every movie could begin this way. You know, Love Actually, But Here Is Some Good Old Patricide (which opens with a sure-to-be-iconic shot of Hugh Grant being shoved into a sausage grinder). We then precede to the obligatory Stephen King “Prescient Child” character and are offered a hilarious, yet surprisingly effective history of the children taking over the town of Gatlin for the purpose of…um…corn. I guess. And this is where the film goes downhill: the main characters. Yes, I understand that the leads in any horror film are usually cursed with the wits of a mentally dilapidated duck, but COME ON. Linda “The Chick Who Killed The Terminator” Hamilton is a woman who wants to get married. Peter “He Came to Life Out of a Sears Catalogue – Kill it – Kill It With Fire” Horton is the man she wants to marry. He is a penis. Not a dick. Not an asshole. Not a pussy or any other derogatory term we have for opening through which fluids/solids/children pass, but a penis. He is tall, erect, constantly inappropriately dressed and seems to only be able to move forward. Like a penis. Well, Johnson Trouser-Snake is driving to Seattle, or somewhere, to be a doctor. Now, we are informed of this repeatedly because he keeps stating it. However, throughout the course of the movie, meeting dead kids, or getting stabbed, or watching his wife’s face get cut, he never does anything a self-respecting MD-having penile quack would do. In fact, when he sees his wife’s face, gouged by an incensed zealot ginger (IZG), he goes, “You got one too!” and they both laugh. That didn’t happen, but this movie is so fucking stupid IT MIGHT AS WELL HAVE.
So, Shit-For-Brains and the Mighty Doctor Dong travel through Nebraska in the longest “Driving to a location where the rest of the movie has to happen” since Terry Gilliam forgot to turn off the camera during Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and accidentally filmed Johnny Depp yawning for 6 hours. Now, our director, Fritz Kiersch, gradually guides his two lifeless meat puppets of humans towards their inevitable clashing with a town filled with religious crazies with the urgency of slug on methadone. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he weren’t actually a human being, but just a bunch of sloths sitting on each other’s shoulders in a trench coat. And all of them are addicted to horse tranquilizers. From the lingering shots of fuck-all to the incredibly awkward extended takes of Linda Hamilton looking at things without any actual agency.
So Tweedle Dumb and soon-to-be Mrs. Tweedle Dipshit hit a child. In broad daylight. On a straight road. A child, yes, a child covered in blood. What does Dr. Dong say? “I hope that was an animal!” Yes, you must have a PhD in Human Fucking Anatomy because when did humans not classify as animals? Not only that, but he then takes twenty fucking minutes to figure out that the red stuff on the suitcase, obviously carried by the dead toddler, is blood. He seems bemused by the simplest of visual stimuli, like a child wandering into his parent’s bedroom while they’re engaged in cross-gender c. This is my impression of Dr. Dickwitch for the length of this movie:
“Huh. I’m surrounded by murderous children armed with farming implements. Let’s have a chat about religion. DEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRPPPPPP.”
It’s pretty fucking perfect. You see, this story might have been chilling on the page. While his actual literary novellas are shockingly decent (the book versions of The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, pretty much everything in Four Seasons) Stephen King has written precisely two horror books: girl has destructive mental abilities and kills many people (Carrie, Firestarter) OR child can see into the future and religious zealots try to murder everyone (The Shining, Desperation, Children of the Corn etc. etc.)…oh, and another book about alien snakes coming out of people’s anuses (what the fuck were you thinking with Dreamcatcher?). In all these years of repackaging the same worn pair of scary socks, he knows how to wrap a fucking present. We have creepy this, atmosphere that, boobies here and swearing there, add a dash of biblical verse and VOILA…you have a King novel. He ain’t perfect, but he knows what he’s doing and what the people want. Here’s the problem with this sewage system of an excuse of a movie…maybe a horde of children with weaponry is scary on the page…but when shot by a sloth-filled-coat as director and Helen Keller as your cinematographer (totally in daylight, zero usage of shadows, dynamic lighting or shot framing of any kind), you realize the reality of this tale: if children attack you…you punch them in the face BECAUSE YOU ARE AN ADULT AND HAVE ADULT STRENGTH. Por example: the ending where Dr. Derp-a-lot fights the evil ginger kid…he kicks the kid in the fucking shin and the kid goes down like a sack of potatoes. OH. THAT WAS TENSE, GUYS. WHO’S GONNA WIN IN A FIGHT? A 16-YEAR-OLD CHILD WHO ALREADY HAS ENOUGH SOCIAL DISABILITIES WITH GINGER HAIR AND A FACE SHAPED LIKE A DRIED TOMATO OR A FULLY MUSCLED 30-SOMETHING MAN?
Ultimately, the movie deviates from the original tale. Apparently, in the short story, both of the adults are murdered because, well, it’s supposed to be the story of adult hubris and the assumption of child weakness. I guess. But…in this…well…here is a rundown of what occurs in the final scenes: Linda Hamilton is going to be sacrificed on a corn crucifix because, well, why the fuck not? Also, Ginger-Face-McGee usurps Isaac, the Corn God’s prophet and sticks the little kid (an amalgam of Haley Joel Osmet’s unfortunate inhuman acting style and premature Dave Thomas-esque jowl-age). The child is then attacked by, what I have assume is the cinematic embodiment of David Lee Roth’s libido, and turns into a zombie. Then they spray the fields with Gas-o-hol which, is that even a thing? I don’t even care anymore. And then everything blows up.
Is that the end? Fuck no! Because this piece of smegma isn’t done yet. If I could sum up the entirety of this exercise in utter incompetency, I would do so by showing you this, the final scene of the film:
DO YOU SEE? DO YOU SEE? I WITNESSED AN HOUR AND A HALF OF THAT? HE PUNCHES A LITTLE GIRL IN THE FUCKING FACE AND SAYS: “Oh, what are we going to do now?” YOU ARE GOING TO DIE IN HELLFIRE YOU IDIOTIC PIECE OF HORROR MISERY.
WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE THIS MOVIE? WHY? WHY DOES IT STILL EXIST? I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!
Now…if you will excuse me, I have to sleep the sleep of the dead. Mucous. Blech.