FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jan 9, 2007

Children Hate You Week: Day 2

It's been years since I've seen Children of the Corn (1984) and I honestly don't remember much about it beyond this:

-Linda Hamilton! Peter Horton!
-I hate Malachai! He's eeeeevil!
-Wow, this movie is kinda, wait. Like many Stephen King books/movies, it starts out cool and scary and then...there's a big monster at the end that's not cool or scary. Dammit! (Yeah, It, I'm looking at you...evil clown who lives in the sewer and kills children? Mind-bogglingly terrifying. Giant spider that can be killed by a slingshot and some hope? Mind-bogglingly 1951.)

There must be some mega-CotC-fans out there, however, because there's an entire series of CotC films- seven freakin' movies! That's on par with Michael, Jason, and Freddy...who knew? This being Children Hate You Week, I felt obliged to watch at least one flick from the series. As I'd only seen the first one, I decided it didn't matter which one I'd take in for stunt week...they're all likely to be stinkers, right? So I chose the one with Naomi Watts, Children of the Corn IV: The Cornening Gathering (1996), figuring that even if the movie was a total waste of time, at least there'd be some pre-Ring, pre-Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts action. With my expectations grounded decidedly at zero, I watched the movie...and lo, something magical happened.

The movie was...kinda...good.

It's a Christmas miracle, a couple of weeks late! Let's hold hands.

Naomi Watts is Grace, a medical student who's taking some time off from school to care for her immediate family. Upon coming home to Corn County, Nebraska, Grace finds that her mother June (Karen Black at her frizzy best) is about to go off the deep end- her agoraphobia is becoming increasingly crippling and she's plagued by nightmares that feature weird children trying to kill her.

Now that Grace is saddled with caring for a cuckoo nutso mother as well as her two younger siblings, she's in need of some dough. Our Grace is nothing if not plucky, however, and she takes a job helping out at the local doctor's office/clinic.

Faster than you can say "ebola", all the children in town are stricken with a mysterious flu; their temperatures flare up over 105 degrees and they begin to convulse with powerful seizures. Grace and Doc Larson (William Windom) scramble to find a cause and a cure for the mysterious illness, but faster than you can say...uh, "ebola" again, the children are fine. Their temperatures return to normal and all is well in Corn County.

OK, so all is NOT well. A shadowy figure has crawled out of a well and is wreaking havoc in Corn County: not only is he killing people with farm implements, he seems to wield some sort of mind-control on the children. Soon enough, they're killing people with farm implements as well!

This is where CotC IV really surprised me. The movie is rated R and with good reason- the blood flows liberally and the camera doesn't shy away from the gore. There's nothing too over-the-top, but I did let out an "EWW!" or two during the proceedings. Lemme tell ya, in the battle of farm implements vs. body parts, I'd put my dollars on the farm implements.

Just who is this mysterious figure from the well, and why are all the town's children suddenly gathering in the cornfield (Oh my god..."gathering in the cornfield"! I so bet that's where they got the title for this movie!) at his behest? Grace gets her Nancy Drew on and visits Ye Olde Towne Crones, who willingly fill her in on the story of Josiah, The Amazing Boy Preacher and all the dark secrets of Corn County. Will Grace put an end to Josiah's evil ways and save Corn County, Nebraska...and the world? I'll never tell!

It's true, movies like Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering are what keep me going. Against all odds, a random direct-to-video horror flick- fourth in a mediocre-at-best series, even- comes out of nowhere with an intriguing, original story that's spooky, serious, and makes sense. It's got decent acting (I mean, Naomi Watts and Karen Black, y'all!), cringe-worthy effects (I mean the good kind of cringe-worthy- you know, the kind that makes you hide your face), and children who really do hate you. Movies like this restore my faith...hey, there are good horror movies out there waiting to be seen! Sometimes zero expectations are the best expectations. I give it 7 out of 10 "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"s.


Stacie Ponder said...


Blogger is being kind of a jerk today. Are you all getting "smenita" for a word verification code? I don't know who she is, but whenever Blogger goes haywire, Smenita shows up. She's the nemesis of commenters everywhere.

Of course, I don't need word verification to comment on my own blog. Since Smenita is keeping everyone quiet, I'm going to comment all by myself so I don't feel ignored.

Stacie Ponder said...


I totally agree with you about Children of the Corn IV. I was surprised that it was a pretty good movie. It just goes to show you something something.

Oh, and "The Cornening" really made me laugh. You are so funny! Keep up the awesome bloggening. Ha ha!

Stacie Ponder said...

Hey STacey have you ever seen that movie The Thing in the Woods? t was scary!

Oh and Children of the Corn sucks. I heard they were gonna make a Native American version called Children of the Maize can you believe that?

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks for the comments, guys.

1) "bloggening"- ha! No, YOU'RE funny!

2) It's spelled STACIE

3) The Thing in the Woods is NOT scary at all, except for the scene where Scooter dies. And that skeleton, that's scary too. OK, it's scary.

4) I heard about Children of the Maize as well, but as far as I know it's been lingering in development hell for years now.

5) It's becoming increaasingly obvious that I need some fresh air.

Anonymous said...

I had zero access to this very blog earlier today, and accordingly missed all talk of Naomi Watts and those dastardly children... of the CORN!!!

I did however pick up a younger, pre-corn Watts film by the name of Tank Girl, also starring one Malcolm "Yeah, that's right, Dr. Loomis" McDowell, and some other people named Lori Petty and Ice-T. Perhaps you've heard of it.

No sign of The Initiation at local stores, though...

Des said...

I was about to turn around and let you talk to yourself until I saw josh...

CotC rules hard! IV has Naomi Watts so that means it must be at least alright.

Me likey Naomi Watts.

Heather Santrous said...

You should give the 6th movie in the series a try Stacie. It picks up after the first movie, many years later of course. Might want to watch the first one again though since, like you, I hadn't watched the first one for a long while and didn't remember a lot about it. That made watching the 6th one a little confusing since it draws off the information droped in the first one.

Amanda By Night said...

William Windom is AWESOME!

I'd see the movie just for him.

Uh, When Scooter "America's REAL Sweetheart" gets hers in The Thing in the Woods, the audience was all tears!

Great review, but more William Windom if you please!

Marty McKee said...

This movie is surprisingly gory, isn't it? However, beyond the gore effects, very good character work by Windom, and the beautiful young Watts, I don't think this movie has much going for it. I found COTC II to be slightly more interesting, if also more than slightly more ridiculous.