Directed by Fritz Kiersch
Starring Linda Hamilton, Peter Horton, John Franklin
What do you get when you smack 80’s by the seat of your pants horror filmmaking with Stephen King stories? Well you get Carrie and you get Children of the Corn. Children of the Corn doesn’t have the style that Carrie does and it honestly feels a bit more clumsy than Carrie but it also has some positives that make it still to this day one of the more entertaining adaptations of a Stephen King story.
A young couple is traveling across country when they suddenly find themselves in the Midwest and surrounded with corn fields. Along the way the couple is involved in a death and they need to report the incident to the police in a local town. The problem is that the town is devoid of life. As the couple investigates the town trying to discover what has happened they begin catching glimpses of kids scurrying about the town.
It soon becomes apparent to the couple that the small town is being run by the children and all of the adults are dead. Early on in the film before the couple arrives in town in a fairly creepy scene the kids enter a diner to kill off all of the adults. The kids are lead by a cult leader named Isaac that has them all worshipping “he who walks behind the rows” a godlike entity that exists in the corn. Isaac orders the couple sacrificed to their God but there are a few hesitant children that are willing to help the couple.
The original story features social commentary that touches on the roles of children and parents, religion, and even way food was being, and is currently being, processed right from the fields. The filmmakers overall successfully brought these elements to the film if a bit heavy handed. Some of the acting is hilariously bad, from some of the children in particularly. Watching the film now with these humorous scenes makes for a whole new and entertaining experience. With that said there’s a level of satisfying creepiness from the children and a layer surreal atmosphere that only comes from 70’s and early 80’s era films. Many films were made in a really slapdash sort of low budget way and sometimes it really worked to enhance the reality of the film. That doesn’t work here because it’s not consistent. Some scenes look great and come off very cinematic while others feel more like “well it’s not a great take but we’ll use it because we’re out of money”.
Children of the Corn is a very entertaining film for all the right reasons and some of the wrong ones. Some of the creepy moments really work and others are quite amusing. Either way the entertainment value is there. The story, even in this form, is still a really great one too. If you’re a fan of Stephen King film adaptations then this is a must own because it’s easily in the top five best ever made.
The 1080p presentation is as inconsistent as the film. It often appears highly detailed and colors are extremely vivid but some scenes drop in detail and feature more washed out colors. The differences aren’t extremely aggressive but they are noticeable. This is a catalogue title and not necessarily a classic and the film is 25 years old so you can’t expect a restoration. With that in mind this video presentation is just fine and definitely the best the film has looked in many years.
The film is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and while it’s a basic presentation the audio is well mixed and clean. Most of the film audio stays solidly in the center channel with only the occasional bit of directional sound. The directional sound is used so seldom that it comes off feeling more like a gimmick than an immersive element of sound. There’s no ambient surround sound to speak of. There’s really not much in the way of dynamic sound fx either. What’s here is very clean and easy on the ears but it’s also very minimal. That’s really to be expected considering the source material is mono.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This film has been on VHS and DVD many times and the art hasn’t changed that much. The hand with the cycle is iconic but it would have been nice to see the artwork innovated on a bit for this new HD release.
There’s an audio commentary with the director, producers, and some of the actors (not Linda Hamilton). The commentary is full of great stories from behind the scenes of the production.
For featurettes there’s a nearly 40 minute long documentary made for a previous release of the film. The documentary goes a bit beyond just a making of EPK by offering up more great behind the scenes information. As is common with commentaries and making of featurettes there are some stories that cross between the two features. There are three additional featurettes new to this release all presented in high definition. The first one features interviews with the production designer and with the composer of the film. The second is an interview with Linda Hamilton. It’s great to see her get involved here and share some stories from that era of filmmaking. The last one is an interview with the co-producer of the film who shares his thoughts on making the film and only being in his mid 20’s at the time. These new features are brief but informative and in HD!!
Considering that this is a low budget sort of film the extras are fairly substantial.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 8/10
The Video 7.5/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features (Not an Average) 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10