Children of the Corn (1984)

children of the corn poster 1984 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Nicely shot, decent acting, creepy score

Story falls apart at the end, some bad FX

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Children of the Corn

Studio:  New World Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  March 9, 1984

MPAA Rating:  R

children of the corn isaac malachai courtney gains john franklin

Hey guys…want to kill some adults?

Vicky Baxter (Linda Hamilton) and Burt Stanton (Peter Horton) are travelling through the rural Nebraska countryside when tragedy strikes.  The two travel to the town of Gatlin for help but find the city abandoned except for strange packs of children that hide among the shadows.  Vicky and Burt do not know what really going on in Gatlin.  The children have risen up at the commands of a young preacher named Isaac Chroner (John Franklin) and his lackey Malachai Boardman (Courtney Gains) and killed all the adults over the age of nineteen.  Now, Vicky and Burt are the children’s target and getting out of Gatlin alive could be impossible…He Who Walks Behind the Rows must be fed!

children of the corn malachai outlander linda hamilton

OUTLANDER!!! We have your woman!!! …and quit calling me a Steven Tyler wannabe!!!

Directed by Fritz Kiersch, Children of the Corn adapts the 1977 short story “Children of the Corn” written by Stephen King and published in Penthouse (March 1977) which was reprinted in Night Shift in 1978.  The short story was previously adapted into the short film “Disciples of the Crow” in 1983 and also adapted in 2009 for the SyFy channel.  The movie was met with largely negative reviews but a big box office return and has gained a cult following over the  years.

Stephen King was already a legendary name in horror when I was young.  Carrie, The Shining, ’Salem’s Lot, and Cujo were already becoming the stuff of modern-day legend.  I remember seeing the poster for Children of the Corn (too young to see it) and being scared of the idea…when I finally did see Children of the Corn as a kid, the horror of the story stood out more than the goofy nature.

children of the corn linda hamilton

Who says the Midwest is boring?

The scares in Children of the Corn are rather genuine.  Creepy kids always are a good selling point in a horror film because killing kids is wrong…even if they want to kill you.  This plot idea provides a lot of scares in general, but the movie does get waylaid by the end with the demonic aspect of the story aka “He Who Walks Among the Rows”.  While it does fit in with some of the bigger Stephen King mythos, it feels rather random here, and if you aren’t expecting it, it isn’t as horrific as funny (having watched the movie from childhood, it doesn’t bother me as much).

The cast is young but solid.  Linda Hamilton is a better actress than most of the actresses that this type of horror movie recruits and had barely done anything at this point.  Her boyfriend was played by Peter Horton who had appeared in a number of TV shows and went on to thirtysomething fame.  Western character actor R.G. Armstrong gets the “don’t go to town” paranoid old man role that populated horror movies at the time.  It is the combination of John Franklin as the creepy Isaac and Courtney Gains as the evil Malachai that make the movie.  The other primary children played by Robby Kiger and Anne Marie McEvoy do struggle with the roles and it is unfortunate that they couldn’t have been a bit stronger child actors.

children of the corn demon isaac john franklin

Isaac’s been on a bit of a bender… “He wants you too, Malachai!!!”

The movie does well when it is building the horror on the brutality of the children.  The sacrifices and scenes like Malachai cutting open the cheek of Linda Hamilton to torture her are graphic and creepy.  The later moments in the film where He Who Walks Behind the Rows is burrowing and going after people is less effective, but if you are a kid growing up surrounded by cornfields, it still can work.

Children of the Corn is a tough movie to rate.  I find it rather effective in many points, but I definitely see the weaknesses of the plot, acting, and visuals.  It was ingrained in me by the time I could judge the film efficiently and rates a bit higher than it probably should.  I still like to hear “He wants you too, Malachai!”…and try to rewatch the movie every couple years.  Children of the Corn was followed by Children of the Corn II:  The Final Sacrifice in 1992.

Related Links:

Children of the Corn II:  The Final Sacrifice (1992)

Children of the Corn III:  Urban Harvest (1995)

Children of the Corn IV:  The Gathering (1996)

Children of the Corn V:  Fields of Terror (1998)

Children of the Corn 666:  Isaac’s Return (1999)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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