Children of the Corny Part 2

Children_Of_The_Corn_666_PosterSo, the following year brought us the 6th film, which brought back the original Isaac (played by John Franklin, the original actor!) and was creatively titled Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return.  A young woman who was adopted out believes her real mother lives in a small town where Isaac has been comatose for over a decade. One thing that stands out about the Children of the Corn films is almost no continuity.  Beyond the first film, they all act like that is the only story that happened at all.

So, Isaac is part of the cult and nothing happened, except, yet again, adults seem in on helping He Who Walks Behind the Rows now.  I mean, again.

There is the attempt at early mis direction of the handsome young man that our lead girl meets is a nice guy, but he is later revealed to be HWWBtR. So, this ends badly for Isaac. HWWBtR seduces our lead girl and the film ends on the cliffhanger reveal that she is pregnant with his child.

Children_Of_The_Corn_Revelation_PosterThe next film dumps the numbering system, calling itself Children of the Corn: Revelation. It also completely ignores the events of the prior film.  Here, a young woman goes to check on her Grandmother, who used to be part of the child cult. We mainly see two kids, who appear to be ghost kids.  They go around this apartment building that is condemned killing everyone living there. The weird part is that the building appears to be in the middle of a corn field.

I actually started having a theory about these films starting with this one…I will share it around the time I get to Runaway, the ninth film in the franchise (well, tenth if you include the remake).

Children_Of_The_Corn_Genesis_PosterSo in Children of the Corn: Genesis (Get it?) we begin with a soldier returning home from the Vietnam war.  He finds kids have killed his family. We jump to the present and a couple’s car breaks down and when they try and find help, they end up in the home of Preacher. He is revealed to be the vet from earlier. He keeps a kid locked up in a shed and the kid appears to have major psychic powers. Again, we have an adult leading things and little connection to HWWBtR.

The couple almost escape, but then the husband is killed and the wife is brought back to be a part of the cult.  Again, the ties to the previous films are non-existent.

Children_Of_The_Corn_Runaway_Poster2018’s Children of the Corn Runaway is (again) about someone who escaped from the cult and then returns to town decades later with her teen son. There are all sorts of struggles as she tries to come to terms with her past only to have it all threaten to destroy her family.

So, about my theory.  Revelation, Genesis and Runaway were not originally meant to be part of the Children of the Corn franchise.  The studio bought independent scripts and had them reworked into being Children of the Corn sequels.  None of them bear any resemblance to the original short story or the prior films in any way. They add elements contradictory to the core concept.  In Runaway? If you remove the opening couple of minutes and the closing minutes, you would have no idea that you were watching a Children of the Corn film.

It is an attempt at a supernatural slasher…and it tries to make you question if the killer is really the one child we see throughout the film or if it might be the lead character. But it never really gels in a way that makes it a good film.

Children_Of_The_Corn_2009_PosterBefore they picked the franchise up with new sequels (there was a ten year break between Revelation and Genesis, and almost six between Genesis and Runaway) they tried a remake that aired on the SyFy channel in 2009.

In this remake, our couple Burt and Vicky are much less in love and their marriage is on the rocks. Part of the strain appears to be Burt’s PTSD.  When they run over a boy while driving through rural America, they go to the nearest town for help. Once there, they find a seeming ghost town.

The film goes for being a lot more gritty, yet seems like they choose to avoid some stuff.  Like we never see the kids slaughter the grownups of their town.  On the other hand, the filmmakers felt it was important that ew know the kids have a plan to keep the cult going by two of the eighteen year olds have sex in a ceremony why the others watch. Hoo boy.

This one also ends on a very bleak and hopeless note.  Burt and Vicky save nobody…and HWWBtR gets to proceed unimpeded.  This remake seemed more like an attempt to be  part of SyFy’s attempts at serious fare, but it is not really that exciting or interesting. It brings nothing of note.  I suppose it is a little better than the other films, including the original movie…but that is just not saying much. This is a franchise that lacks one solid flick and yet, somehow? The franchise just keeps moving on.

The Children of the Corny Part 1

Children_Of_The_Corn_1984_PosterSo, originally, I was going to review each of the Children of the Corn Films. But frankly, I did not feel like writing detailed reviews of all ten films…because…well…

The Franchise is pretty awful. Please note, I will not be avoiding spoilers and am just going to express thoughts about each film very briefly.

Taking place pretty much in 1984, the first film opens with an absurd narration from a kid explaining how one day, the child prophet Isaac led his child followers to slaughter the adults in town per the command of “He Who walks Behind the Rows”.

As I noted, the opening slaughter contains a child narration that really undermines the film. It could have been a horrifying moment if they had simply stepped back and let it all play out silently. A few years later, because somehow nobody noticed a town went and killed all the adults, Burt and Vicky are traveling across the country. They find themselves in Gatlin where they run afoul of Isaac and his cult. They plan to sacrifice the couple to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, but they manage to escape and not be killed by the a red storm cloud.

Children_Of_The_Corn_2_PosterAnd then, about eight years later, just in time for cheap CGI, the first sequel arrived. John and his son Danny are driving cross country and get stuck in Gatlin, apparently right after the first film.  The remaining kids are being taken to the next town over and reporters and police are everywhere, since everyone now knows the kids all killed their parents, they let them wander around town.

John is a reporter and decides to stay in town for the story.  And I am pretty sure for the owner of the bed and breakfast they are staying at. He and Danny do not get along.  And so, Danny resents this whole “stay in town” thing…until he meets Lacey.


Danny also starts hanging out with the creepy Micah, who, unknown to everyone else has become possessed by He Who Walks Behind the Rows. In a super early 90’s CGI sequence.  This begins a trend of terrible CGI in the franchise.

One of the weirder aspects of the film is that while it is clearly supernatural, the film provides a naturalistic explanation.  Why? We all know that HWWBtR is real and some sort of monster. What is the point in suggesting it is all due to some hallucinogenic fungus? I mean, there is a setup that the infected corn is going to be shipped all over the country and that adults were in on it…for reasons?

Anyways, In the end, Micah gets shredded and the heroes get away.  Another weird thing with the film? It takes place a day or two after the first film. Which was 1984.  Yet there is no attempt to tie them together, both films behave as if the story takes place in that present. And while the first film played the mayhem more seriously, this film goes for comedic deaths. One woman is crushed under her house with a Wizard of Oz moments before her death.

Children_Of_The_Corn_3_PosterThree years later, we get Urban Harvest. Shortly after the events of the second film, Eli and his older brother Joshua are adopted by a couple and move to the big city.  There, Eli starts to convert kids to his cult and plant s a corn field in backlot of their apartment building…because that would not look weird.

Joshua is a bit less into the whole HWWBtR deal. People die crazy supernatural deaths anytime they start to interfere with Eli and HWWBTR.  Eli’s corn is super tasty and so  his step dad plans to try and get it sold all over the country.

Eventually, all the kids gather in the corn field to pledge themselves to HWWBtR, apparently after several killed their parents.

This is the first film to show us HWWBtR and it is…uh…it is…how do I put it?

Absolutely awful.


Probably the only notable thing in this film is an early appearance by Charlize Theron.


Apparently, it was successful enough that we got Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering a year later.  A film starring a Pre-Respectable Horror Naomi Watts.

Children_Of_The_Corn_4_PosterIn the film, she returns to her small town home to help with her agoraphobic mother (Karen Black). She works for the local doctor and the town finds themselves under siege by Creepy Kids.  This film tries to reign back the comedy, aiming more for creepy kid killings. But it is also just not much of a stand out.

That is the hard part. While they try and go in a more serious direction, it ends up being kind of boring.

I don’t know if Mirimax was pulling the same idea as their Hellraiser approach and just making sequels to hold on to the IP, but two years passed and we got Children of the Corn V:  Fields of Terror.

Children_Of_The_Corn_5_PosterThis one has an early role for Eva Mendez, as well as a pre-transition Alexis Arquette. Again, creepy kids abound, but this time, an inexplicable trend is introduced.  An adult who seems to be leading the cult. It does not make any real sense with the mythology, but each film kind of does whatever it wants.

And frankly, part of the problem is that there really is just not much to do with the idea of a cult of killer kids in rural America. I don’t mean, you could not tell a totally scary story based around creepy kids. But as a franchise, it really has its limitations. How big can the cult be? How does HWWBtR find new kids? By the fifth film, we are already seeing a tired cycle and honestly, we have yet to have a good film in the whole lot. Maybe that is yet to come?

Deadlines (Countdown, 2019)

Countdown_PosterPeople download a new app that predicts the time of your death. The thing is, people who get information regarding an upcoming date, end up dead. Nurse Quinn Harris downloads the app and finds out she has about two days to live. She and others with short time frames team up to try and beat the app.

Countdown is sort of like the Final Destination films, though without the elaborate death sequences. And, really, this is a reasonable idea for a horror film. I kind of like the idea that people start seeing a grim reaper like figure as they get closer, which has shades of stuff like the Rings films.

Another thing I liked was how the story played on our habits of just agreeing to terms of service.  At the same time, there is a bit that just seems like overkill.  For seem reason, they included a mythology where you can break the terms of service.  But the thing is? Breaking the terms of service does not actually change anything.  Your countdown still continues. It feels like breaking the terms of service should cause instant death or something. Instead, when people change plans for the date of their death, apparently that breaks the service. Why? Even though the movie gives an explanation, it seems pointless. If avoiding your death means you still die right on time…what does it matter?

Ultimately, Countdown is passable Halloween movie entertainment…but is, in the long term, a forgettable film.

Sanity and the Sea (The Lighthouse, 2019)

The_Lighthouse_PosterAs the lights went up, I overheard a guy say to his friend “I really enjoyed it, but I could not tell you what it was f*****g about.”

I honestly feel like this film should not work. It is in black and white. It is in a very uncommon aspect ration. The audio is mono.  It is just two guys being belligerent on screen for almost two hours. And yet? I was hooked in from the first few moments.

I cannot image this film being as visually striking if it had been in color.  The black and white picture creates a feel of something from another time. A story of old maritime myth and superstition.  The light and shadow perform an engaging dance as the storms (both nature and between the men) rage in front of us.

I don’t know if I can tell you what it was f******g about”…but it was quite an experience.

Two For the Price of One (Gemini Man, 2019)

Gemini_Man_PosterHenry Brogan is the best sniper there is. He has spent his life  shooting terrorists and those who help them.  But when he retires, he discovers that his most recent target may have been an innocent man, and retiring from the top secret government agency is permanent.

He ends up on the run with help from an old friend and a young agent as they try and piece together the facts.  But the biggest issue is the incredibly skilled young men sent after Henry. As the trailers revealed, Henry has been cloned and it was sent off to kill him. Younger and all his skills give Junior the advantage over Henry.

But Ang Lee is not interested in simply pitting two forces against each other. Instead, Henry is more interested in altering Junior’s path from that of a brutal killer. It helps keep things from getting two formulaic in the action genre. The action scenes are really well choreographed and well edited.  I like the characters, but the story kind of falls apart towards the end.

The big talk around the film is the use of High Frame Rate.  I saw this film in the standard frame rate, and I must confess, I am not sure the film would benefit.  There were outdoor scenes that looked like characters were just in front of green screens, HFR seems like it would make that stand out more.

The film uses cutting edge digital technology to create a digital Will Smith that is imposed over another actor. And it never quite looks natural.  While the digital de-aging Marvel did with Nick Fury in Captain Marvel looked like a younger Samuel Jackson, the digital puppet for Gemini Man looks like an artificial creation.

Gemini Man is an okay film with some good performances and great action, but it is not destined to be a sci-fi classic.

Who Can You Trust? (Goodnight Mommy, 2014)

Goodnight_Mommy_PosterLukas and Elias have been waiting for their mother to return to their remote home after some surgery. But when she arrives, face encased in bandages, the twin brothers instantly start to question if their mother has truly returned.

What unfolds is a terrifying tale of parental and child relationships gone terrifyingly awry.

It is really hard to talk about this film without giving away some of the most horrifying twists and turns of the story.  But this slow burn ends in an excruciating crescendo of horror.

If Hereditary and Midsommar engaged you, this is likely to be your jam. It becomes painfully uncomfortable to experience towards the end, with a very bleak set of reveals and resolution.

Never Sleep Again (The Nightmare, 2015)

The_Nightmare_PosterNever Sleep Again is focused on the condition known as Sleep Paralysis.  People afflicted by it describe the terrifying experience of being visited by specters while being unable to move. Some reference aliens, others demons and some, simply dark and ominous men.

It is a waking state of sleep, where they are aware of their surroundings, but powerless to change or protect themselves.

Through interviews and recreations, the viewer is taken through a world of fear.  And the recreations are very creepy and even outright scary.  It is hard to not be drawn in…and then?

Well, the end just kind of unravels.  There is no real discussion as to what might be causing these experiences. We hear the first hand accounts, and see representations of what it must be like…but we are not treated too much in the way of medical theories or possible cures.  Well, except one. A few people talk about prayer to God…but little else in the way of research or medicinal break through.

So, while this is a really engaging view for most of it’s run time, it feels kind of empty when you get to the end.

The Viral Legend of Wrinkles the Clown (Wrinkles the Clown, 2019)

Wrinkles_The_Clown_PosterIn 2015, videos of a creepy clown called Wrinkles emerging from beneath a child’s bed went viral, followed by various sightings and then stickers inviting parents to call  Wrinkles to scare naughty children.

This documentary focuses on the phenomenon from both the perspective of the man (or men) behind wrinkles, the parents and kids  who became obsessed with the clown.

The kids are, honestly, the most disturbing part of the documentary.  We hear audio of voicemails received at the public number Wrinkles has set up, and it is kind of chilling to hear just how terrified these kids are.

Initially, we are introduced to a retiree (who is not shown) who really seems disinterested in how it might impact the kids.  Later, as the film reveals another individual (also hidden) stating to be the creator of the clown (explaining they hired the retiree to play the role) who created a lot of the viral videos of Wrinkles being seen in public. That individual states they are not really thrilled by parents calling wrinkles to scare their kids, suggesting it is pretty abusive.

For awhile, the documentary carries along at an interesting pace…but it kind of peters out towards the end, like they kind of were unsure where to take the film. Still, it is a pretty interesting look at a creepy viral phenomenon.

Unstoppable Trickery (Trick, 2019)

Trick_PosterOne Halloween at a party of the local high schoolers, one student suddenly shocks everyone by slaughtering almost everyone at the party.  The student, nicknamed Trick, is wounded and while in the hospital breaks free, after taking several bullets and falling out a window, he disappears.

While everyone else is sure he is dead, believing he had leaped into the nearby river, Det. Mike Denver is not so convinced.  He believes that Trick is still out there.

The following Halloween, he is proven right as Trick starts appearing in different masks, wearing creepy face makeup beneath. Like Jason or Michael, Trick seems capable of surviving multiple wounds and appearing anywhere at any time.

So, Trick is the latest from Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry, My Bloody Valentine) and screenwriting collaborator Todd Farmer (Drive Angry, My Bloody Valentine and Jason X) have created a fairly by the books action slasher.  This is not bad, as they show they have a pretty solid grasp on the tropes and find a way to explain them in a late film twist. The film is fairly tense with some thrills.

The cast is quite good, led by Omar Epps.  But he is supported by genre vets like Tom Atkins and Jamie Kennedy. And the faces I was less familiar with, such as Kristina Reyes and Ellen Adair were good as well.

As noted, the film is not breaking new ground, but it is a pretty fun and exciting slasher film over all.

No Escape (Haunt, 2019)

Haunt_PosterA group of friends go to an incredibly remote extreme haunted house to try and take one girl’s mind off her boyfriend problems. After turning in their cell phones and signing a waiver, they enter.

But it does not take long before they discover that they may never be leaving the Haunt alive.

From the screenwriters of A Quiet Place comes this rather simple tale.  It is also a very well done one.  Haunt is both fun and scary, with a lot of uncertainty.

I don’t have much to say beyond I recommend this film to fans of intense slashers.  It works very well, with a decent (but unfamiliar cast) and the ending worked really well for me.

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