Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A-maize-ing Movies

Yet another series in my long effort to watch as many horror franchises as I can. While I was hoping to get some Texas Chainsaw in here first, it appears that Children of the Corn was destined to be next on the list. Mainly because I found parts 2 through 7 in a value pack while shopping. I may be more in the mood for some brutal grind-house stuff, but I am getting some crazy Stephen King instead. I will accept that.

Children of the Corn (1984): Wow, no wonder this is considered a classic of the horror genre. This movie is pretty much the epitome of why I think the 80's made the best horror movies. There is the right mix of violence, suspense, and story. An interesting tidbit of information, I never knew before seeing this movie that there was an actual supernatural element. I always assumed the movie was about a cult of kids who killed their parents and sacrifice people to a made up god. I didn't realize the god was an actual thing. It was a nice surprise to me. Overall, the entire movie is a solid horror movie. I don't have much else to say that probably hasn't already been said. Good movie, well worth the praise it gets.

Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice: A sequel made nearly a decade after the original. Can't be that good, right? Wrong. It turns out, this is a pretty decent movie. Other than the obvious differences in fashion and how completely different the kids look, there is not a lot to complain about. There is one scene of really bad CG that could have been left out, but even that is somewhat forgivable. The plot is a good follow up, showing the aftermath of the discovery of what happened to the parents of the original movie. There is also an interesting subplot that sort of explains why the kids ended up being so susceptible to the influence of "He Who Walks Behind the Rows." Once again, a good movie that ends up being well worth the time I spent watching it.

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest: The inevitable third movie, which usually runs into difficulty living up to the earlier entries. This is no exception, but that is not to say it isn't good. In fact, it is very good. It is also very 90's. In this entry, we take the kids out of the corn field and into the city. Even with that shaky premise, the movie pays off pretty well. The only real problem comes in at the end, when the reveal of the true nature of the antagonist is pretty bad. The effects, which up to this point have been good, also fall apart at the end. I do have to admit I loved seeing the creepy kid from Demonic Toys as the creepy kid in this movie. Also, early and uncredited appearance by Charlize Theron. So, yeah. Fun times. Will it continue?

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering: I'm not sure what to make of this one. On the one hand it gives a bit of a back story to the whole thing by telling the origin of kid preachers (and possibly even He Who Walks Behind the Rows). It also has Naomi Watts, who is always great to see in a movie. However, it is also kind of lame. I mean, really, mercury is the weakness of the villain here. Mercury? Isn't that kind of everyone's weakness with the whole toxic thing? I am kind of meh on this one.

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror: Wow, another stinker. Which is a shame, since the cast isn't horrible. I like David Carradine, Eva Mendes, Adam Wylie, and Alexis Arquette. I don't like this movie. Moving on.

Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return:We are back to better movies again. Not world class cinema or anything, but just good fun. Here we find out that Isaac was not killed at the end of the original movie, but merely comatose. The children of the original kids are now reaching adulthood and there is a prophecy that one of them will bring about the return of He Who Walks Behind the Rows. While overall the movie is just a standard plot about a girl trying to find out about her past, and consequently being the key to an evil prophecy, the way it all plays out is fun. Nothing new here, but there doesn't need to be.

Children of the Corn VII: Revelation: I knew it couldn't last. We have come back to the less-than-amazing world of direct to video sequels. This movie is so forgettable, I had to look up the plot on wikipedia to even remember what I saw and write about it. Though, to be fair, the idea of produce filled with the blood of those sacrificed to it is kind of nifty. Nothing special here though.

Children of the Corn: Genesis: This was an interesting one. The movie starts with a couple stranded on the side of the road. They notice some phone lines and decide to try and call for help. Cue creepy loner living in the middle of nowhere. While much of this movie was pretty predictable in the way the plot was laid out, there were a few refreshing changes. The loner's mail order bride trying to seduce the male protagonist, only for him to (probably) turn her away and tell his wife about it was a nice change. The fact that the female protagonist was pretty outspoken in a non-offensive way was also a refreshing addition. My only real criticism was the end, where a bunch of people show up out of nowhere with no real explanation as to who they are, where they are from, or why they are there. What makes it even more annoying, is that it feel like there was meant to be more to that in the movie and it was left out for some reason. Even the back of the DVD case makes it sound like this was meant to be a big plot point. Otherwise, though, a nice addition to the franchise.

Children of the Corn (2009): I am a little conflicted on this one. On the one hand, it is a new take on the original with some alterations. On the other hand, it is a remake with some alterations. I like that they made it a period movie, taking place in 1977. That simplified the plot be not forcing the inevitable cell phone dead zone to prevent calling for help. The fact that they protagonist had fought in Vietnam was played well to explain his ability to fight back, as well as the expected flashback. Said flashback was actually done pretty well too. The interplay between the husband and wife, however, was horrible. I pretty much hated her completely, and strongly disliked him until after her death when he was able to do his thing solo. It was surprising to see the husband killing as much as he did. I know these were possessed fanatical kids, but they are also kids. You don't see children get killed in movies. Impressive and ballsy to pull off. Finally, I loved how this departs in significant ways from the original. Malachai is not nearly as evil, nor is he as rebellious as before. The movie has more overt supernatural elements. The end is much darker. I don't think this is better than, or possibly even as good as, the original. But, it does a good job of differentiating itself and standing as its own thing.

All in all, I like the concept of what this series is. Religious fanaticism and creepy kids are two things I like in horror. The execution of some of these was a little lacking, but that is to be expected when you tack sequels on to something. Entertaining, lite movie fare. Good enough for me.