Revisiting the Hills Pt 1 (The Hills Have Eyes, 2006)

In the early part of the aughts, studios started to remake Wes Craven’s films. To a certain extent, this was, I believe, an attempt to give Craven more financial benefit from his work. He was tangentially involved in these films as a producer, they were all written and directed by different people.

The Hills Have Eyes was probably a good place to start. It is a film known mainly to fans of Wes Craven and horror. However, a lot of people in the mainstream are likely to have simply heard the name.

Bringing in Alexandre Aja to write and direct. He had made a real impression with 2003’s High Tension, and honestly, was probably a strong choice. High Tension was part of the French Extreme trend in horror where stories could be messy and plot twists do not make sense. Here, the extreme violence of his work really is at home.

The core story is there. A family is on vacation in their RV. They go on a detour to shorten their drive time and the car appears to break down. They discover there are other people hiding in the hills and those people attack them and kidnap their baby. And then the family must fight back.

The original film is about a family from civilization versus the feral family. The film plays up the family divisions, with Big Bob’s tough Republican versus Doug’s “weak Democrat” played up big time. In fact a lot of the film is devoted to Doug becoming a violent badass. This is not an exaggeration. Doug goes from a guy barely able to think of using a gun to hand to hand violent killer. The film is pretty good at manipulating the viewer, because Doug is trying to save his baby.

The remake’s biggest alteration is that the feral family are ravaged by radiation. They are basically mutant monsters. Visually, this is really effective, though it loses something to make the Jupiter family outright inhuman monsters.

This is a decent remake and I think gorehounds will find it enjoyable.

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.

Look Out…Uh…Back In Time! (Tremors 4: the Legend Begins, 2004)

tremors-4The fourth film (With S.S. Wilson Returning to direct) jumps back to 1889, with the founding of Rejection, Neveda.  This is the town that would become Perfection.  Michael Gross returns as the ancestor of Burt, Hiram Gummer.

The town is under siege from young graboids, and it falls to Gummer to do something about it.  Unlike Burt, Hiram is an upper class guy.  He is a bit of a snob, but still a decent person.  There is not a major twist here…the graboids are smaller gliding worms that have not yet matured.

The film has it’s moments, but I am unsure that this was a necessary prequel.  How is this not part of the town history?  How had nobody heard of the graboids?  It just ends up raising questions for the franchise.  Overall, it is not as enjoyable as previous entries.

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