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!

Jul 30, 2013

Film Club: Children of the Corn (2009)

Brothers, sisters, fellow behind-the-rows-walkers, I am so pleased to have experienced The Corn-ening 2: The Re-Corn-ening with you all. For while you were all incredibly supportive throughout that long and mildly traumatic day, there really is nothing quite like joining hands and jumping into that giant cornhole together. And so,

I went into Children of the Corn '09 with an open mind and a heart free of doubt. Okay, that's not true. I had plenty of doubts! Of course I did. I don't think I heard one good thing about this movie in the days leading up to this Film Club gathering. Still, as has happened plenty of times in the past, I gave a shrug, said "How bad can it be?"- after all, the original version is enjoyable but could undoubtedly be improved upon- and gave it a go.

Oh my goodness, IT'S SO BAD.

If you haven't seen it, I will quickly sum it up for you so you never have to subject yourself.

For 45 minutes, these two people argue:

For 30 minutes, people run through corn:

Besides some assorted fuckery that takes up the rest of the run time, that's pretty much it for this crapfest of a flick. Mind, said assorted fuckery is really something to behold! Behold:
  • Burt goes on a kid-killing spree during 'Nam flashbacks! I guess he spent a sizable amount of time crawling around cornfields whilst battling the Viet Cong.
  • "The time for fertilization is come." You guys. YOU GUYS. Two of the older kids strip down and do it- AND YES I MEAN "IT"- right there in the Corn Church in front of the rest of the Corn Children, who get really excited as the humping goes on. I am unsure why the filmmakers decided to subject us to this extended scene, but let me just say: there is life before you watch a bunch of kids watch other kids have sex, and there is life after. STAY IN THE LIFE BEFORE.
  • There are little crucified corn cobs, and the crucified corn cobs have faces. That's actually one for the 'plus' column, can't lie.
Given that in the original film, Vicky (Linda Hamilton) was only in the film to harass Burt about getting married and, later, to be rescued, I thought the character would be improved in the remake. Or, at the least, evolved a bit, much as Barbra in the remake of Night of the Living Dead (although you know I loves me some OG Barbra, haters to the left)., I don't know what the hell they were thinking with New Vicky. Actually, "I don't know what the hell they were thinking" entered my thoughts a shit ton during this movie, but Vicky is just THE END. All she does is bitch and yell at Burt- and I do mean that's all she does. I don't think there's ever been a less sympathetic character in a film before, and I've seen movies featuring all kinds of monsters, ghouls, and the occasional Hitler. She has no redeeming qualities. You do not care if she dies- in fact, you'll likely spend the first 45 minutes of the movie wishing that she would, horribly and painfully. Burt doesn't fare any better, but it seems that the director gave him a few notes beyond "Okay, unrelentingly shrill!" There is no one to root for in Children of the Corn, and so what's the point?

As I said, there are plenty of other head-scratchers throughout. One of the greatest strengths of the original film is the opening, wherein the children of Gatlin quietly murder all of the adults in town. We don't know their motivations; we only know that they are silent and deadly. You know, like...ninjas. In the remake, a child preacher is all "We have to kill the adults because God said so!" and the kids are all "Yeah!" and then it's 12 years later. Why excise such a powerful scene? I guess the people behind the remake are jerks.

Speaking of jerks, what of the HJIC (Head Jerk in Charge), Isaac?

Terrible. Terrible! And I don't mean that in a JR Ewing gee, I love to hate him kind of way. I mean it in a he's not at all threatening, and how could he be the leader of these jerk corn children when he's not at all charismatic or powerful, and couldn't they have found a better actor because this kid is the total pits and monotonously mumbles through all of his lines, and also what is up with his hair he's got a frosted blow out going on under that oversized novelty hat kind of way.

We can take solace in the fact that the last bit, about the hair, can be explained. As the credits scrolled by, I saw that the styles come courtesy of Jose Eber. Jose Eber! If you don't know who that is, then first, feast your eyes:

And second, this blurb from his Wiki page tells you all you need to know:
...José created a sexy, carefree unstructured look that was easier to maintain and which instantly became "de rigueur" for an entire generation. His first celebrity client was Farrah Fawcett, followed by Cher, Jaclyn Smith, Elizabeth Taylor,and the Who's Who of Hollywood.
Why Jose Eber was called upon to style the Coifs of the Corn, I have no idea, but bless the heart of the person who signed that check.

Why I'm supposed be scared to find Isaac directing the Children with some rooftop YMCA bullshit, we may never know.

All in all, the best thing I can say about Children of the Corn 2009 is that I'm glad I didn't watch it during the original Corn-ening, because I would have watched it last and it would have ruined my day. Watching it on its own, sure, it ruined my day (it's really really really bad), but it certainly didn't sully my memories of, you know, remote-controlled electric wheelchairs or stop motion He Who Walks Behind the Rowseses. It was a self-contained misery that others got to suffer through as well, hooray!

Show these Film Club Coolies some love!
Nilbog Milk
Modern Superior
Vegan Voorhees
The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense
Life Between Frames
Zombie Cupcake
Scarina's Scary Vault of Scariness

Jul 26, 2013

Hello, this is Murder calling

One of my favorite activities is boring A Young Person to the brink of collapse with a litany of things that used to be better and/or things they've missed out on simply because they weren't around to experience them. Sure, sometimes I'll pause in my droning and think, "Have I become an actual crone yet? Do I really need to lament the loss of Fudgalicious right now? If I do, could I not do so privately? Surely this Young Person would rather skateboard or drink a Four Loco than listen to me talk about The Good Old Days." Then I stop zoning out and realize that the Young Person wandered off because I was no longer talking but simply staring off into space instead.

Their loss though, amirite? Yes! By wandering off, they will miss my blathering about specific topics related to things being better decades ago. Topics including, but not limited to:
  1. Fudgalicious gum
  2. Freshen Up gum, which I guess is still around but no one buys it because when you think about it, the way it squirted into your mouth was a bit disconcerting, really
  3. I don't know why I keep mentioning gum. I don't even chew gum. That's not really a topic for the list, I am just saying.
  4. Dallas, Dynasty, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, Arthur Hailey's Hotel, and why am I not writing a book about 80s nighttime soaps
  5. Made-for-TV horror movies
  6. Having to wait a year (at least) for theatrically-released movies to come out on video, and then only renting everything because movies were, like, $100
  7. Comics were everywhere
NOTE TO SELF- a talking point to add to this list in these future "conversations" (let's be real, it's just me going on and on): telephones, specifically as they used to relate to horror movies.

Look, I am not so old as to not realize that phones are still around. But let's face it...when it comes to horror movies, the tiny portable computer camera phone devices everyone has nowadays are boring. "Oh no, I can't get a signal, we're doomed!" - snooze. "My cell battery is dead!" - oh no, feel the excitement. "A signal transmitted through our mobiles is turning everyone into zombies! Well, maybe not technically zombies, but I guess it depends on your definition of a zombie!" - You know, lots of things turn people into zombies, be they technically zombies or no. Cell phones are just Dullsville, you guys. And as far as I know, they are not readily available in sweet avocado or mustard colors, so again: what is the point of them?

In The Old Days, handsets were usually connected to bases, and bases were always connected to houses. Literally! Connected by wires! If someone knew your phone number, chances were good they knew where you lived. If you answered the phone, you were home. Sure, now folks change cell numbers frequently- but once upon a time, you were tethered to that shit for life. And in case you are a dummy, let me remind you that the "mobile" in "mobile phone" means that you can take your phone with you. How scary would the beginning scenes of Scream been if the killer had called Casey while she were at CVS instead of making Jiffy Pop in her own kitchen?

"Do you like scary movies?"
"What's that? Sorry, I can't hear you."
"Excuse me, can you tell me where the unguents are?"
"Sorry, I'm at CVS and I need-"
"Who is this? Can you call back? I need to browse the salves aisle."
"Well, I guess I won't go home, then."

Answer: not very scary, except maybe for whatever situation she's facing that requires the application of a medicinal balm.

"Send help, I have a rash!"
Just look at the way she's being harassed! It's much tougher to bother someone with weird questions or heavy breathing nowadays with this Caller I.D. business. If I don't recognize a number, I don't answer. If they keep calling, I turn my phone off. If they leave disturbing voice messages, I delete 'em instead of listening to them. Let me tell you, Billy and his "Don't tell what we did, Agnes" business wouldn't have gotten very far with me. This is why my life is not nearly as terrifying as Black Christmas. I love that movie, but I am not complaining.


As numbers were tethered to phones and phones were tethered to houses, so were people tethered to...phones and houses. If you left your home to escape whatever masked whackadoo trying to whackayou, you had to leave your lifeline behind. No rushing out to hide behind the garage and call for help! Kids today have it so easy. Why, even if you stayed home to call the cops, the kookadook could simply cut the phone line.

And then, of course, phones could also tether you to your death!

Yes, I drew this, so what
There are multiple ways for this: the obvious, as employed my Mr. Myers, above, and then like this, in the POSITIVELY DELIGHTFUL (so delightful I had to yell it) 1982 flick Murder By Phone, which I just watched and which is the reason I am thinking so much about telephones in horror movies:

Man oh man, this movie! Okay, when I say yell "POSITIVELY DELIGHTFUL", I really mean "largely terrible" except for all of the titular murders by phone. Yeah, there's some plot that involves environmental superprofessor Richard Chamberlain and his Mighty Beard trying to solve these murders by phones, but the plot really just gets in the way of the murders. You know, the murders by phones.

AND HERE THEY ARE. Now you don't have to watch 80 minutes, you only have to watch two. Although, be warned: it's so awesome, you may spend 80 minutes watching two minutes 40 times.

The beeping. The shaking. The bleeding from all the head holes. The lightning and thunder indoors. The people getting blasted off their feet and crashing into various things. The venerable John fucking Houseman getting murdered by phone! If there is a Heaven, my friends, it is this two minutes of cinematic history.

Also: see? AVOCADO.

Also also, it should be noted: the second death...that of Mr. Office Man, cements my new-found love of people flying through the air whilst remaining seated in chairs, a love that began with Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. I want it to be in every movie forever from now on. And maybe retroactively put in every movie that's already been made. What am I saying, "maybe"? Definitely.

Wait, what was I talking about before I got distracted? Oh yeah, telephones in horror movies. Here are some others where phones play a pivotal role- if not in the movie itself, then in my mind, which is the only thing that really matters:
  • When a Stranger Calls / When a Stranger Calls Back (I mean, DUH)
  • Don't Answer the Phone! (this is also the title of a chapter from my forthcoming book, Hermiting 101)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street 
Yes, I drew this, too SO SUE ME
And, of course, One Missed Call, the poster for which only proves how unscary cell phones are.

What the hell is that? Who decided that was a good idea? It makes me feel bad for the film, because man, that poster really puts the film at a disadvantage from the get-go. How could it bounce back from being saddled with that image? It's like...I don't know, being born only a head or something. Maybe that's not 100% impossible to overcome, but it's got to be 99.5% impossible at best. If you were only a head, how would you breathe or turn the pages while you're reading Entertainment Weekly or be alive? It would be super tough. And with a poster like that, how could One Missed Call be good? The answer lies in its infamous 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I can't personally testify to its quality, because I've never seen it. Why would I? Life is too short, and it's much better spent watching people fly through the air on office furniture and boring The Young Folk.

Jul 16, 2013

the Vatican did not endorse this review

When it comes to watching horror movies, I often feel as if the world is Crazy Ralph and I am but a horny teen hellbent on a debauched weekend in the woods. You know what I mean. I mention a movie and the next thing I know I've got a face full of "You're doomed! It's a terrible film! Dooooomed!"...and yet, I say "Stuff it, old man!" and defiantly peel out in my Chevy Nova pop in the DVD anyway. As I hit play and head toward certain calamity, the Ralphs all shake their heads, mutter more about this doom thing, and pedal off into the night.

Of course, we've all seen enough horror movies by now to know that although no one ever listens, the crazy townsperson is always right. The camp always has a death curse. The kids are always murderous. Everyone really is doomed. But! Sometimes you are an Annie, likely realizing the error of ignoring Ralph as you die. Though chances are slim, however, sometimes you are an Alice, going through a night of hell but emerging victorious. Today, I am an Alice! Stuff it, old man!

All of this is a really strained metaphor about how I've wanted to see The Devil Inside (2012) for a while now but everyone said it stunk so I put it off but then I finally watched it and GUESS WHAT I liked it.

Mind you, its faults are plenty! What begins as a simple mockumentary about a young woman trying to figure out if her murderous mom is actually possessed or merely wackadoo becomes downright silly as demonic possession is passed around like a goddamned hot potato. The legions of viewers who complain about the ending are right to complain- audiences do love a resolution, be it "good" or "bad". The Devil Inside, however, just stops, leaving you with a decidedly coitus interruptus feeling. The credits roll and you're a bit stunned. You turn blankly from the screen, say "Oh. That was an ending? It's over? It's over." and then you go make some pizza rolls.

I'm also willing to cop to the fact that despite all the warnings of stinkitude, I was bound to enjoy at least some aspects of this movie. After all, I had a possession itch that wasn't scratched by Dorothy Mills, and as I've stated approximately 983547 times on this site, I love possession movies. I gave The Devil Inside all of the benefits of all of the doubts, and it worked. I had a damn good time watching this movie.

What it gets right it really gets right, and what it really gets right is exorcism scenes. As this is purported to be a documentary in the making, the scenes are spare, no-nonsense, and terrifying. They're not overwrought, CGI-laden special effects shows, and they're not so far in the "gross out" camp that you're removed from the action as a viewer. The passages certainly don't come off as silly: they fucking worked for me. Not since The Exorcist have I noticed that my whole body was tensed up because I was downright scared.

Much of my enjoyment of possession films is purely aesthetic- I find the demonic voices and visages frightening, although the possession itself has never affected me one way or the other. What I mean is that it's never been the scary part; I'm not a religious person and "The Devil" and "demons", such as they are, don't get to me in any real way. I'm not afraid of being possessed, you know? The Devil Inside, though, got me thinking about it. Somehow, it conveyed the true horror of what a regular person would endure should she become possessed better than any other movie I've seen dealing with the subject matter. Regan writing "HELP ME" on her stomach from the depths of Hell was a neat and chilling special effect; here, those in the grips of demons have moments of lucidity but ultimately are not in control of themselves physically or otherwise. It struck me as something akin to being at the mercy of a mental illness, or maybe a strong addiction. Perhaps it was just that cinema verite style at work, but it all felt like a possibility, which is beyond the scope of what my brain can handle.

But again, ultimately it all falls apart, which is really too bad. The fact that we leave the realm of possibility and enter standard horror movie territory (only to reach that abrupt "fuck the audience" ending) does the entire film a disservice. Not a big enough disservice for me to say I didn't dig the hell out of it or that I'm not looking forward to watching it again, but big enough so that I see where you Crazy Ralphs are coming from. I'm super glad, though, that I told you to stuff it, old man! I'll never learn!

The Revenge of the Final Girl Film Club

My my my, guess what! I'm choosing a Film Club Choice. Can you believe it has been almost a year since the Film Club Coolies have gotten their cool on with the last pick, Deadly Blessings? Time sure flies when there's no Film Club.

Well, prepare for time to grind to a complete halt, friends, because the ol' FGFC is back. And considering what I endured yesterday with The Corn-ening, I think you know what's coming. That's right- there's more Corn to endure and this time, I will not do it alone.


Oh yeah. You knew it had to happen. The remake of Children of the Corn, woo! I bet it's terrible. It's terrible, right? But here's the thing: I will likely temper my "it's terrible" because Kandyse McClure is in it, and as you you you oughta know, she was on Battlestar Galactica and you know how I feel about that. I am just saying. Anyway, here are the deets! There's a pretty short turn-around time because I want to capitalize on my Corn Fever, so LOOK OUT.

The movie: Children of the Corn (2009)
The due date: Tuesday, July 30
The deal:

1. watch the movie
2. link to Final Girl somewhere in your review
3. email me the link: stacieponder at gmail dot com
4. bask in the warm embrace of your fellow Film Clubbers

That's it! If you wrote a review of Children of the Corn (THE REMAKE!!) a million years ago and you want to be included, that's fine. Just add the link to Final Girl in there somewhere and send it along.

Now come on, y'all, take my hand. Let's walk behind the rows together.

Outlander, take back your Corn-ening!

Well dudes and y'all, it's over. Can you believe it? A mere 17 hours or so ago, The Corn-ening lay before us all like a field about to sprout. Now it lies behind us like a field that is...dead, I guess. I don't know. Look, I'm pretty numb. And yet, like a gift that keeps on giving, I figured I'd do a little wrap-up so we can all assess exactly what we've been through. The good news is, what we've been through wasn't as hellish as I anticipated! The bad news is...wait, there is no bad news. We are the champions, my friends, and we kept on Corn-ening 'til the end.

Here are some random numbers and facts and whatever, a veritable post-game showcase showdown!
  • Films in which someone is crucified on a corn cross: 1, 8. I expected to see more of it, but I'm glad I didn't. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that.*
  • Films that feature giant explosions: 1-3, 5-7. I bet Michael Bay is a huge CotC fan.
  • Films that feature bugs coming out of peoples' mouths: 3 (real bugs), 7 (computer bugs).
  • Films that feature boobs: only 7! And only briefly. This shocked me. I mean, you can't make a horror movie that doesn't show boobs, right? RIGHT?
  • WTF, after the first film no one used "outlander" anymore; it became "outsider" which is just dullsville terminology.
  • Malachi is still the child of the corn I love to hate.
  • I am so sick of typing "children" and "corn", you have no idea.
  • My sanity is intact! I am flabbergasted.
  • The best film in the series: The first one. No wait, Urban Harvest. Mmm, it's a tie. No wait, but that remote control wheelchair in The Final Sacrifice...ahh don't make me choose!
  • Money raised for Alexandra West and her roommate Jo thanks to you guys: I have no idea, but I hope some.
*as someone on Faceplace pointed out, there is a corn crucifiction- corncifiction?- at the beginning of 3. That is true! I guess I was thinking more along the lines of a "sacrificial" corncifiction, with the corn headband, whereas that dude in 3 was scarecrowed. It's a fine line when it comes to these things!

I think we all learned a lot during the course of this day, don't you? I learned that this series is not as awful as I figured it would be. I learned that corn can grow fucking anywhere. I learned that children are not to be trusted. Wait, I knew that already.

Goodnight, outlanders!

Children of the Corn: Genesis

What the hell was that?

Man oh man, Children of the Corn: Genesis (2011) felt longer than the previous seven films in the series combined. The thing is, though, I was actually with it until the last ten minutes or so, which is actually when stuff, like, happens. Yeah, this tale of a married couple who wander onto the remote desert property of a wackadoo preacher and his mail order bride in search of a phone only to find sinister goings-on treads familiar ground. Sure, it's not very good. Sure, it's not particularly related to any other CotC films beyond brief mentions of Gatlin and He Who You Know You Know. I found it somewhat intriguing and watchable, however, thanks to the cast.

Billy Drago mumbles his way through a performance that leaves you wondering whether he's perpetuating evil or keeping it in check. Barbara Nedeljakova vamps her way through a performance that leaves you wondering the same. And as young, pregnant marrieds Allie and Tim, Kelen Coleman and Tim Rock are downright charming. All was fairly well, if more than a bit slow with a capital Can I Please Go to Bed Now, I Have Had Enough of These Corn-nanigans.

Then the last ten minutes happens all in a hurry and the mystery is gone and it ends on a note flatter than a dirt road through Nebraska. Sigh. What a bummer of a way to end The Corn-ening! Although, I should be thankful: this was better than Part V, at least.

And just like that, it's over. I don't have to watch another Children of the Corn movie. I don't know how to feel right now. Tell me what to do, He Who Walks Behind the Rows! I am lost without you.

Jul 15, 2013

Children of the Corn: Revelation

Guys, guess how this one ends.

WITH AN EXPLOSION! Truth. It can't be a coincidence, can it? The fiery, explosive climax has to be a leitmotif, right? It has to be. And hey, should you have a fiery, explosive climax, be sure to consult your doctor. Ha ha haaaaaa! Get it? I'm tired.

Okay, so to be honest, Revelation (2001) wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting. It is, after all, the seventh movie in this He Who Walks Behind the Rows-forsaken series and all the various comments y'all have left on the Final Girl Faceplace had me scared for my life! By which I mean I was anticipating a rise in my blood pressure as a result of the suckitude, that I would be ready to enter a murder/suicide pact with this blog at some point during the film. This, however, was not to be. Not because Revelation is any good, of course. Rather, I cried "uncle!" before this day even began, and so, like a condemned person facing their day of reckoning courtesy of Ol' Sparky, I have been at peace throughout these movies. If you count on having a terrible, no good, really bad day, it all might end up better than you assume.

Yup, I thought that by this point in the proceedings I would be a raving lunatic...but I'm not. Yes, I'm kind of losing control of my ability to form coherent sentences, but I'm not as wiped out as I was during my Halloween-a-thon and my Friday-the-13th-ening. Perhaps this is owed to the fact that I'd seen nearly all of those films before I embarked on that journey into darkness, whereas my Corn senses have only tingled twice in the past. (See what I mean about coherent sentences?) When you're on your 15th hour of movie watching, if you throw in a shitty movie you've seen before it is torturous, like running your tongue over a knife blade. Actually, that would surpass torture, wouldn't it? Regardless, it's an appropriate simile. When you're on your 15th hour of movie watching and you throw in a shitty movie you've never seen before, though, it's just sort of boring. From the Stacie-shaped pit of my couch I shrug and toss off a nonchalant "I've seen worse". Like, come at me, Children of the Corn. You can't hurt me, I'm already dead.

All of this is to say that Revelation is bad, but it didn't make me want to kill myself. That is a compliment, although I doubt it will find its way onto the box of any future DVD releases as a pull quote. Whatever. Like I care, Children of the Corn: Revelation.

So. What is all this shit about the corn? Oh, some broad goes to visit her gramma, who has disappeared from her condemned Condominium of the Corn (for's, like, in a corn field). The building is filled with standard stock apartment dwellers- crazy Army dude, mean old guy, stoner, stripper- who all die one by one at the glowers and hands of...the children of the...wait for it...CORN. They are for real of the corn this time, though- each new death resurrects a dead child from the corns of yore. It's not an awful idea, necessarily. It's just lackluster in its execution and its ties to the previous films are, like Part V, virtually nonexistent.

My biggest takeaway, I think, is that in Revelation bugs spill out of someone's mouth and they are CGI bugs made out of computer. In Urban Harvest, the bugs spilling out of peoples' mouths were real. That's how you get shit done. That's acting! Things were better back them, I'm old, et cetera et cetera.

Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return

SPOILER ALERT: Isaac totally returns in this one! Oh wait, that's in the title.'s true. Isaac returns to wreak some Behind the Rows havoc and no, that is not a euphemism.

But how does Isaac return? Wasn't he killed way back when in the original Children of the Corn...? Pfft, man, you just thought that. Like a character in all of the best soap operas, he was in a coma in a mental hospital all this time. Then suddenly he's back from outer space (or Southfork or wherever you go when you're in a coma) and ready to fulfill a prophecy: a prophecy that involves a pregnancy ritual, just like in all the best movies that feature prophecies being fulfilled.

Isaac's Return (1999) is truly the Halloween H20 of the Children of the Corn series; much as that film disregarded Halloween parts 3-6 and brought back the OG Laurie Strode, CotC 666 boots the previous four films out the door and gets back to Behind the Rows biz-nass and how many times do I have to tell you that's not a euphemism?

Anyway, back in Gatlin something something children of the original children (of the corn), something giving birth to a baby that will start a new pure race (of what, exactly, I am not sure...corn people, maybe?), something something it ends in an explosion (OF COURSE), something something Nancy Allen is in this and that is the biggest selling point, no doubt. It's for sure better than Part V (shudder), and while I'm kind of blowing it off it's not really a super horrible film. Of course, I could just be going soft on it because my GD brain is going soft from enduring 13 hours of Children of the Corn movies so far. But I don't think so. Maybe. Maybe? But it wasn't that bad? It's a standard run-of-the-mill pregnancy prophecy flick that unfortunately devolves into the bad guy entering "I'm ca-RAY-zay!" territory, but it's more in line with the vibe of the original film than any other sequel so far. And it's good to have Isaac back, that little asshole. *cries*

Sakes alive, only two more films! Time sure flies when you're gettin' your corn on. And yes, that is a euphemism.

Hey, time for another reminder: today is the Corn-ening-a-thon. If you haven't pitched in to the Alex and Jo fund, please consider it!

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror

In case you were wondering how things were to begin anew in Corntopia, that picture above demonstrates the hows and whatfors of it: a fire in a cornfield blasts out green sparkling flames into a child, DUH. How did you expect the story to resurrect itself from behind the rows?

As the opening credits of Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror rolled, I was treated to a veritable cascade of celebrity names. Alexis Arquette! Ahmet Zappa! Eva Mendes! David Carradine! Fred fucking Williamson! I was anticipating, like, a Battle of the Network Stars special wherein said Stars battle children, corn, and any combination of the two. Let me tell you, friends, I wasn't disappointed!

Wait, yes I was. This film is terrible! Well, let me modify that. See, in the Corn-ening edition of Awesome Movie Poster Friday, I mentioned that the poster for this film is clearly from the post-Scream assembly line. Y'all, that is some truth in advertising: this movie is decidedly some post-Scream crap; however, "terrible" is too strong a word. Unfortunately, the Fields of Terror are located in that dreaded No Man's Land: it's not good enough to be good, it's not bad-good enough to be good, and it's not bad enough to hate. Nope. It's just...there.

He Who Walks Behind the Rows is back, sort of, but in name only. He's no longer a giant worm-thing tunneling beneath the ground as in parts 1 and 2, and he's not a giant puppet-thing as in part 3. Now, he's an Eternal Flame, you see. The bright spot of his evolution is that now I can pretend that Bangles song is about Children of the Corn V. This association improves both the film and the song.

The biggest crime Fields of Terror commits is that it's boring, boring, boring. As I mentioned, it's post-Scream crap that follows your standard city-folk-in-the-country slasher flick formula. A bunch of good-looking young people wander into a nowhere town, and you just know from the outset which one will survive; the Corn religious tie-in is really just an excuse to have kids do the killing rather than a masked weirdo. I will say that the "action", as it were, culminates in an explosion. That makes 4 out of 5 Corn flicks that do so. That is some leitmotif shit.

Even the Zoltan vampire puppy-style "oh no the evil isn't dead because there are glowing eyes" ending couldn't save this one. I'm already fixin' to forget it completely...say, a picture of that Zoltan vampire puppy sure would help! It helps everything!

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering

Now, I've seen Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996) before. Heck, I even gave it a positive review right here on this very site! As I popped in the DVD, though, I kept feeling fascination trepidation: I haven't seen it since I reviewed it in 2007, and I didn't remember much beyond "Naomi Watts and Karen Black are in that one". What if it actually stinks?

This is not totally outside the realm of possibility. You see, I also gave a positive review to The Ring 2 once upon a time, and I'm pretty sure that was because I was blinded by my love for Naomi Watts. She's just so good and she's one of my favorite actresses and therefore she gets my patented Free Pass (see also: everyone who was ever on Battlestar Galactica, Melrose Place, and Dallas). The worst movie of all time becomes "not that bad" if she's in it. Movies that are not that bad become "actually pretty good" if she's in them. In other words, I cannot be trusted at all when it comes to films starring Naomi Watts.

Except this time, I swear! The Gathering is actually pretty good, I mean it. For real.

Okay, maybe I can't tell if it's actually pretty good or if it's just not as bad as you'd expect. Either way, though, it's solid and enjoyable, if more than a bit staid after the bonzo fuckery of Part III. That was a wise decision on the part of the filmmakers, however, because how could anyone live up to Urban Harvest? Answer: impossible. Better to go in this direction, which has nothing to do with any of the films that precede it. Well, I suppose there are children and corn and a child preacher, but honestly those are tenuous ties at best. The mythology of the series continues to evolve, though whether for better or worse is yet to be determined. He Who Walks Behind the Rows is now He Who Walks in Heaven or Hell or Wherever, which makes me wonder how I can only have just surpassed the halfway point in the series.

Hey, I just surpassed the halfway point in the series! It's been painless so far. I will cling to the hope I find in that statement, for surely the worst is yet to come. Right?

Oh, and it's time for another reminder: today is the Corn-ening-a-thon. If you haven't pitched in to the Alex and Jo fund, please consider it!

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

What in the Orville Redenbacher hell did I just watch?

For serious, y'all, I had no idea that Children of the Corn II and III are so damn awesome. I thought the second film was off the rails, but for fuck's sake Part III (1995) gets so far off the rails that it somehow gets onto another set of rails and chug-a-choo-choos into space like the end of Night Train to Terror.

The original film seems so quaint now! Sure, it had its share of WTFery with the giant worm monster you never see and Isaac dissolving into red sparkles...and then blasting off...and then returning with "explosion hair" like a cartoon character...but at its heart it was a time-worn tale of Religious Nutsos Gone Wild. Meanwhile, in Urban Harvest, the supernatural is brought to the forefront and anything goes. ANYTHING. ANYTHING I SAY.
  • a fancy "nice house" on the outskirts of Chicago is built five feet away from an abandoned factory
  • there is a scene that features a suitcase full of corn cobs that whisper "Give us your blood!" to Nancy Grahn of television's Santa Barbara and television's Models Inc and oh my God you have no idea how happy it makes me to type all that
  • a killer scarecrow? sure, whatever
  • madness and hallucinations transmitted via cockroaches in soup? uh huh, okay
  • a woman's head splitting open and bugs spilling out? yup
  • a corn field grown magically in an abandoned factory and sustained by a mini-Motel Hell-style people garden? you bet
  • a woman inhaling flames and melting from the inside out? why the hell not
  • fireballs repelled by a "Bible" adorned with corn mosaics? of course
Clearly Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest does not care a whit about taste or making sense. It has not one fuck left to give about you, about any Corn lore that has been established, about anything. It is a maverick, you see, a rebel playing by its own rules. Its only rule is that it doesn't have any rules. Whatever else I have to endure today, however bad these movies will all have been worth it for Urban Harvest. Outlander, we have your new favorite movie!

Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice

Can you believe that the world had to wait until 1992 for a CotC sequel? Sure, eight years is an awfully long time, but let's face it: finery such as this needs to gestate. You can't rush a masterpiece, amirite? I am.

I know what you're thinking: sure, masterpieces can't be rushed. But Stacie, are you really calling Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice a masterpiece?

OF COURSE I AM! Look, the movie begins with a corpse party when all the dead adults of Gatlin, Nebraska are found. Usually we have to wait until the last ten minutes of a horror movie for someone to stumble upon a room full of bodies- but not here. The Final Sacrifice flouts conventions and busts out the awesome right from the get-go and it just doesn't stop. To wit, the film features:
  • a character- whose last name is Casual- wearing a t-shirt with shoulder pads
  • a sadistic youth wearing the same shirt as CotC's Malachi...but he's named Mordechai
  • a wise Native American named Frank Redbear who tells the story of the corn and stuff via petroglyph reading
  • the line "What is all this shit about the corn?"
  • there is some fine-ass world's first CGI / Spencer's Gifts effects going on as New Isaac Micah's body is disassembled and...reassembled? the void? I don't know, there were a lot of globular things floating around
  • everything in the two movies so far is apparently caused by moldy corn
  • we are regularly treated to He Who Walks Behind the Rows-Cam. He Who Walks Behind the Rows really gets around, and perhaps should also be called He Who Stands by the Side of the Road and/or He Who Hangs Out in the Woods
  • the children of the corn take control of an elderly woman's electric wheelchair via remote control and steer her out into traffic...she is then hit by a dump truck. Woman and chair fly through the air and crash through a storefront window and it's probably the best thing I'm going to see all day ever
  • the Good Guys (including Shoulder Pads Casual) set Frank Redbear atop a funeral pyre in the middle of a corn field (don't worry, he was dead) and then drive off into the sunrise, never stopping to consider that perhaps there's a Gladys Redbear or something out there who may want to know where the fuck her husband is
I mean, I kind of feel like The Final Sacrifice is a secret that's been kept from me for the last 20 years. HOW COULD YOU? HOW COULD ALL OF YOU?

Now then, I am on to the third film. How does this make sense when Part II was supposed to be the final sacrifice? I can't wait to find out!

Oh, and remember: today is the Corn-ening-a-thon. If you haven't pitched in to the Alex and Jo fund, please consider it!

Children of the Corn

Is it just me, or was Children of the Corn a veritable classic back in the 80s? I mean, it was the thing to see for a good long while, at least among the young folk. Killer kids movies were few and far between during that time: Village of the Damned and The Bad Seed were well behind us, Birthday of Blood was obscure...there simply wasn't much out there for those of us looking for a good old-fashioned children vs adults flick- which, by the way, is what everybody should be looking for if you ask me. It's no surprise, then, that Isaac and Malachi walked out of the corn and into our hearts. But! How does it hold up after all these years?

Pretty well, for the most part. The culling scenes that start the film are effective and are good at establishing that the kids of Gatlin, Nebraska are a bunch of dead-eyed assholes. It's still a delight to see Malachi get his just desserts. He Who Walks Behind the Rows is still a mystery wrapped in dodgy special effects. The plot still relies on the stupidity of the main characters.

Don't you miss Linda Hamilton? I sure do. She was such a fixture of the mid-late 80s, it bums me out that she's been MIA practically ever since. Unfortunately, the woman who personified badassery as Sarah Connor in Terminator is stuck playing a 2-note character in CotC; those two notes, incidentally, are "nag" and "whimper/scream helplessly". Vicky seems solely to exist to give her boyfriend Burt (Peter Horton) someone to rescue. She's completely useless, like a soggy piece of white bread in the bottom of a kitchen sink. It's a shame, a waste, a travesty I tells ya!

But all in all, Children of the Corn is still a decent way to spend an hour and a half. You could make a drinking game out of it by taking a shot every time there's a close-up of a weapon or a farm implement. You can spend hours debating how the children continue to exist for years after killing all of the adults in town. You can try to figure out how Burt and Vicky and all the children are going to get on with their lives sans corn. You can think about the ways in which Isaac resembles Tangina from Poltergeist. You can debate all the mixed messages the film sends: religion is largely a sham! Isaac is a wackadoo! No wait, Isaac was right! Children of the Corn is a never-ending cob of fun.

And I do mean never-ending. I have seven more movies to watch!

Outlander, we have your Corn-ening!

It's true, you guys, it's here and it's TIME for The Corn-ening! I'll be starting the original Children of the Corn (1984) in about...oh, 15 minutes and it's all downhill from there. After each film I'll writeup a little...uh, writeup- so be sure to check back throughout the day for updates regarding my sanity and self-esteem.

Now then, if you dig what I'm doing today, what I've done, what you think I'll do...please, I would like you to think of The Corn-ening as a sort of telethon. A Corn-ening-a-thon! My fellow horror writer Alexandra West- she of Famous Monsters of Filmland, she of being an expert on found footage horror, she of generally being wicked awesome and all-around one of the finest people I've had please to Internet meet- recently lost everything in an apartment fire. Everything. So did her roommate. If she had all of the Children of the Corn movies on DVD, they are gone now. Even if she didn't have all of the Children of the Corn movies on DVD, it is a terrible thing.

Sometimes, though, The Internet is a terrific place. A GoFundMe page has been started for Alex and her roommate, and during the Corn-ening-a-thon I urge you to donate to help these women get back on their feet. Read a review, pitch in a buck. Watch as my writing devolves into babbling lunacy (NOT THAT YOU COULD TELL, AMIRITE), throw in a five-spot. Maybe forgo a pricy coffee today in order to help out, I don't know. What I do know is that the Cyber Horror Community is an incredible one. We're like a mighty family of freaks who help each other out and pitch in when needed...and boy is it needed now. So give if you can- what they're going through right now could easily happen to any of us.

And now I become She Who Sits Behind the Couch (yes it's very impractical...I can't see the TV). On to Children of the Corn!

Jul 12, 2013

awesome movie poster friday - The CORN-ENING edition!

Hello friends, it's sure been a while since a Friday 'round these parts has been an awesome movie poster one, hasn't it? Well, pull up your pants and hold on to your hats because that's gonna change right now. And so begins...

Pro Tip: Use more image search terms than "elderly corn" if you don't want to end up seeing a lot of elderly feet

"What is The Corn-ening, " you ask, "and is it delicious?"

"Yes and yes!" I reply.

"That doesn't make sense," you say.

"Doesn't it?"


"Oh, my apologies. Allow me to clarify."

Beginning around 7am this Monday (July 15), I will be watching all of the Children of the Corn movies in order. In one marathon session. Like my Halloween and Friday the 13th viewing marathons, I will take a bit of time in between films to write up a l'il something something on whatever I just watched. Like my Halloween and Friday the 13th viewing marathons, by the time it is all over, I will likely hate myself and enter a shame spiral that causes me to question every single life choice I've ever made. But it must be done...for science.

Anyway, what better way to get wicked pumped up for this Major Event than by putting peepers to some Children of the Corn posters? None. Stop trying to think of better ways, because there aren't any.

Some thoughts! You know, it's kind of interesting that the evolution of the CotC posters is a microcosm of the evolution of horror movie posters in general. Check it:

The first film (1984): mysterious! a bit arty! intriguing!

The fifth film (1998): the heads of good-looking people, all lined up! WB horror! what Scream hath wrought!

The eighth film (2011): a nondescript stock photo Photoshop snoozefest!


I'm a fan of "Horror Kid", but Ghana wins the day, as you'd expect.

Jul 9, 2013


Take a look at this DVD cover.

Do you have any idea how excited I was when I found this? You you you oughta now that I love possession movies, no matter how bad they are, so any take on The Exorcist is going to tickle me pea soup green. Thus, it is no surprise I was all "Yo Dorothy, c'mere, girl. Evil chose you, and so do I!"

It wasn't long into the film when I realized that Dorothy Mills is 99 things, but 'a contemporary take on The Exorcist' ain't one. And I don't even know what that "evil chose her" shit is all about, either. That's right, folks...I have been misled. Misled! This is a marketing misstep that brings to mind William Friedkin's Bug, which was shoved into a genre it didn't fit. I get it, you know, why it's done. A film comes along and the PR department gets flustered, tut-tutting as they try to categorize it. What do you do with a Bug? Is it a drama? It won't play with the drama crowd. Is it horror? Mmm, not really. Well, not within the narrow paradigm that "horror movie" tends to bring to mind...but hey, it's close enough! And it's from William "Exorcist" Friedkin, so screw it! Yes, folks will be angry when they find out they've been duped, but what does it matter? By that time, they've already parted with their money. As for the movie's future...long run, shmong run.

And so goes my relationship with Dorothy Mills. I picked it up largely based on that Exorcist reference. I didn't read reviews beforehand because I wanted to remain unspoiled...I wanted to find something new and have the experience in a sort of good ol' days-style information vacuum. I guess you could say it was my fault that this film didn't meet my expectations, except that I arrived at my expectations from the GD marketing. How very frustrating!

It's even more frustrating when you realize that misleading box art does a disservice to a fine film that doesn't need whatever cachet the Exorcist name might lend to it. If anything, it's more akin to, say, The Wicker Man or Dead and Buried and it likely would find as much of an audience among the horror crowd if those films were referenced on the cover. I still would have checked it out! I love an outsider ends up in an insular and quietly hostile community that harbors some bad secrets movies almost as I love possession movies! Just be what you are, Dorothy Mills, and we will give you a chance.

The "outsider" here is Jane van Dopp (Carice van Houten), a psychiatrist who heads to an isolated island community off mainland Ireland to examine and assess troubled young teen Dorothy Mills (Jenn Murray), who was found physically abusing an infant under her care. Locals are both friendly and unfriendly, but none of them want Jane digging too deep. The sooner she heads back to the mainland the better, but what of Dorothy's fate? Will she end up in jail because of the assault? Or is there more going on than is immediately apparent?

Of course there is, what the heck did you think?

Listen, I'm not giving away the rest of the haps with this flick because it should be seen in a good ol' days-style information vacuum. Suffice it to say that while many parts of the film will be familiar to horror fans, it's original enough to satisfy. Really, though, I'll highly recommend it based on Jenn Murray's performance alone. Dorothy's got a lot of demons to battle- none of them Pazuzu, mind- and Murray's range is astonishing.

So look, take a chance on this little gem from writer/director Agnes Merlet. Just, uh, know what kind of gem you're getting.

Jul 8, 2013

I Heart: The Amityville Horror

I came across a copy of John G. Jones's The Amityville Horror II in a bookstore the other day and I got excited in that bug-eyed, hand-clapping simpleton way I have. Somehow this book had escaped my notice for decades despite the fact that I consider myself to be an AmityManiac! Well, to clarify, I'm an AmityManiac who still hasn't seen all of the films, and who didn't know that there were so many goddamn books beyond the "classics" by Jay Anson and Hans Holzer. It's just that The Amityville Horror is as much a part of my formative years as Star Wars and comic books and Donna Summer records and KISS records that I can't help but get my simpleton on whenever 112 Ocean Avenue comes up.

112 Ocean Avenue. What other addresses do people actually know like that, beyond their own and grandma's? 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, maybe. I am just saying.

So, this book. I start flipping through it, giving it a read here and there, and I was shocked- shocked, I tell you- at how it read like fiction. I'm not talking about how "it reads like fiction" is used to compliment history books to reassure the masses that History Can Be Fun and Not Dry! (I made that slogan up, but if you run a history club or whatever you can use it.) (Oh, and a great example of a history book that "reads like fiction" is Erik Larson's Devil in the White City, great book, highly recommend, love you)...I mean that The Amityville Horror II reads like straight-up fiction, as if John G. Jones bent over and pulled the narrative right out of his ass.

I felt...confused. Was this book a work of fiction, further adding to the Amityville mythos? You know, like Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes and the possessed floor lamp (aka the greatest thing to ever grace a screen)? I took to the best source of information: Amazon reviews. There, I was reassured by a helpful reader. Let his (or her; "whytewolf" is a pretty gender-neutral screenname, I suppose) words ease your doubts as well:

I know in my heart of hearts that all the Amityville hoo-ha is a crock of shit. I know this, but I choose to ignore this. Total case of willful ignorance. Does that make me a crazy person? I care not! For you see, the seeds of love were sown early and they were sown deep. And that sounded way dirtier than I intended.

Look, here's the thing. Anytime I have a rational thought regarding The Amityville Horror, such as "everything George and Kathy Lutz put forth as evidence of supernatural goings-on has been debunked or greatly obfuscated", I counter it with something like "But George and Kathy Lutz were so good-looking! In the movie! Good-looking people never lie!"

EVIDENCE IT'S ALL TRUE: look how beautiful George and Kathy Lutz are when they are portrayed by beautiful people James Brolin and Margot Kidder!
See what I mean? And every time I think some negative thought about it all, something along the lines of "Wait, so Jody the evil presence...was...a giant purple pig?", I banish such a thought with "The cover of Jay Anson's book said it was all true so it was ALL TRUE. And be honest, if you saw a giant purple pig with glowing red eyes, you would be scared shitless once you made sure it wasn't simply a side-effect of too many Motrin IBs."

And just like that, easy, breezy,  I choose to believe in The Amityville Horror because it's not simply a cinematic juggernaut (holy crapping crap, ten movies), it's become a part of American folklore, dammit. I choose to believe that the Lutzes weren't simply trying to cash-in on the tragedy that occurred in the house before they moved in. I choose to believe that it wasn't all a fabrication because if crazy wall-bleeding shit can happen at 112 Ocean Avenue, it can happen anywhere. Maybe your house has a red room in the basement. You just need to look harder.

Look in your heart.

(Clutching a copy of The Amityville Horror II, Final Girl is carried aloft by a billion teeming houseflies. You bellow "Get out!" after her, but it's too late. She's already gone.)

(Just kidding. I didn't buy the book, it's total crap.)

(But Amityville 5ever though.)

Jul 2, 2013

Learning to Let Go

Hey, Silent Hill, come on in. Have a seat. Can I get you anything? I have...well, I have water. Wow, I really need to go shopping, ha ha! Oh wait, I have tea. You want some tea? I can make some coffee. Just let me know.

Anyway, yeah, why I asked you over. Listen, let me say right off the bat: you won't find a bigger Silent Hill champion than me! Look, the first three video games are about as good as you're going to get in the survival horror genre. The rest of the games aren't even that bad...a couple are actually good.

As for the first cinematic foray into the world of Silent Hill, what can I say. I was so pumped about it, right? And I saw it and I loved it. Then I calmed down, saw it again...and while it's not worthy, perhaps, of all the adoration I initially heaped upon it, it's fairly solid and more good than bad.

I'm realizing, though, that the slow-but-gradual slide into mediocrity since the 2003 release of Silent Hill 3 has cooled my fervor. To use a scientific term, it's cooled my fervor a shit ton. While I'm still interested in new Silent Hill games, they're no longer release day purchases for me. Hell, for the most recent title, Downpour, I waited until the price dropped to $15. Trailers for Silent Hill: Revelation piqued my interest- I admit to still harboring a Pavlovian (if fleeting) response to all things SH, and I have enjoyed past work from writer/director Michael J. Bassett- but not enough to get me into the theatre to see it. Then it was released on DVD and I thought, "Hmm. I will wait for Netflix." Then it appeared on Netflix and a trusted friendsource warned me:

"It's bad."
"What do you mean? Bad how?"
"I don't want to spoil anything. It's's bad."
"The effects? The plot? The acting?"
"It's just bad. You'll see."

So ominous, that "you'll see"! I get shivers just thinking about it. But, I could put it off no longer. It was time to see if I would, in fact, see.

BOY OH BOY, SEE I DO. This movie, I just...I mean...what the hell happened?

On paper, it doesn't sound so bad: in the years since Silent Hill, Sharon (Adelaide Clemens) and her father Chris (Sean Bean) have been on the move, changing their names as often as they change their address. Sharon is now Heather, and her life ain't nothin' but lies! She believes that they're constantly moving because her father (now calling himself Harry) killed someone in self-defense. She believes that her mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) died in a car crash. She believes her dreams of a place called Silent Hill are just, you know, dreams.

But! The troof ain't so convenient or pretty. After finding a way to allow Sharon to escape years ago, her mother Rose remains trapped in Silent Hill. Her father keeps the family mobile because Silent Hill wants HeatherSharon back because something Alessa something something awakening their God something. Through a few twists and turns o' the plot, Heather does head to the Hill to rescue her dad and...whatever. 

Sure, it's convoluted and likely impenetrably confusing for anyone who hasn't seen the previous Silent Hill film. It's a workable plot, though, so it's a bit surprising that Silent Hill: Revelation is such an utter, utter failure. It's a perfect fucking storm of failure, in fact.

The dialogue is atrocious. It's flat and boring and corny, on par with some of the worst video game dialogue out there. Silent Hill has never been known for its writing, but it's better than this. The performances and the script feed off of each other like vampires locked in a kind of tangled battle of suckage: the performers surely couldn't be inspired by the writing, but for fuck's sake I don't think any of them are even trying, which makes everything sound even worse. Sean Bean and Radha Mitchell in particular- I mean, I'm not convinced that Mitchell is a decent actress at the best of times, but both her performance and Bean's can't even qualify as "doing it for the paycheck" acting. They're phoned in from farther away than E.T.'s phone home bullshit. I don't know who to feel worse for while watching this- them, or me. Or maybe the world.

At times the effects aren't that bad, I suppose, in that CGI "some pixels walk around and stab other pixels and then some pixel gore happens" kind of way, but it's all just wrong. The world feels wrong. There's nothing ominous at play. Silent Hill is as easily accessible as Hoboken. One of the major face-offs in the film is resolved with a hug. A hug of death, mind you, but still. A fucking hug.

I don't know how to sum it up beyond saying that this film is just embarrassing. Embarrassing to anyone who calls herself a Silent Hill fan, to anyone who has enjoyed Bassett's other endeavors, to all of the actors (what the frig, Carrie-Anne Moss is totally wasted and you shut up, I will not tolerate a disparaging word because I love Carrie-Anne Moss), to anything and everything that ever was or will be. My friend was right: for fuck's sake, it's just bad. You'll see.