Thursday, October 02, 2014

Children of the Corn: Episode 0

We actually get to start this series with a prequel of sorts, Disciples of the Crow, which sounds like a pretty terrible metal band. This 1983 short film (brought to my attention by Travis - thanks, asshole) has around 20 minutes in its running time and $45 in its budget. The film sounds like it was boom mic'd through a handful of tube socks and you can almost see the magnetic strips peeling off the film as it spools. Still, it lends Disciples of the Crow a nice little aura of eerie low-fi charm.

Disciples was produced when Stephen King adaptations were arching toward their long-lasting pinnacle, and had already been graced by a few big-budget stinkbombs, but there's an essence to this quiet little (attempted) spooker that I much prefer - an aesthetic of grainy film and tattered paperback covers is much more forgiving to Mr. King and his dimestore horror mien.

The story: We begin in small-town Oklahoma, and already this tale is too scary for anyone to ever watch. A little kid with an amusingly-large herp on his face is worshiping some creepy shit (it's some corn, not just the cross/grave/whatever) with an entire crucifix made of either husks or hemp, which is impressive but also stupid. Then he leaves and goes to church, which reduces him to such an alienable state of boredom (I been there, kid, I been there) that he whacks his mother with a hatchet. It's unclear what happens next, due to either obfuscatory skill or the fact that this film was seriously shot for a couple of a twenties and a Hardee's Best Value Meal coupon, but I guess the kids go wild just like in that Babylon A.D. song, and rid the town of its adult menace. Mkay.

Next we cut to what is easily the most obnoxious couple this side of a Kardashian, named Vicky and Burt, who are driving through the flat, barren wastes of Oklahoma on some indiscernible trip. Throughout the remainder these two make the most bitter and hate-drenched bickering, even when they are being assaulted by scythe-wielding cultists. Marriage! Anyway, these two idiots can't stop railing one another with venom-coated invectives, so Burt ends up running over a child. When they inspect the body, they find one of those sweet ceremonial daggers they sometimes sell at carnivals or behind the glass at the counter of old video rental stores - you know, the ones with the bigass ruby-jeweled hilts and stuff? At this point, Burt advises they comically hurl the child's body aside and go into town so that they can bicker with one another in a less infanticidal capacity. The town appears to be vacated however, except for some creepy Burma-Shave signs/graffiti that say nonsense like "Repent the Atonement" or something.
"Give Daddy a hug!"
After some cursory sightseeing, Burt and Vicky decide to get the fuck out of Oklahoma (amirite y'all?), fuck this "Cherokee Nation" business, but are thwarted by several 20-somethings (aka crew members who weren't getting paid for two roles) who attack the couple with staves and pitchforks and scythes, lead by King Herp himself (I also considered Bubba Herptep). What happened to Children of the Corn? These m'fuckers are in their prime! I guess the titular children had to grow up, but then that changes your title to Coming of Age in the Corn, and, ew? Whatever. Burt and Vicky (sadly) fight the adult-children off and drive away, making cryptically-shitty musings about...whatever the fuck just happened and how profound it was. Roll credits.

If I have learned something thus far from this series, it's two things: Everyone is scared of smalltown U.S.A. and everyone is scared of southern religion. As someone who has some familiarity with both of those things, I can give you an ironic amen but also offer a counter, because seriously, American horror is ludicrously scared of both of those things to the point that it's almost a metanarrative (we are also disproportionately scared of weenies and ho-hos). I actually think most of American horror is informed by the fear offered by driving a car cross-country: endless stretches of nothing containing Cthulhu knows what out there in the vast, barren nothingness. If I were to drop some postdoc wankery on you I would relate this to the Frontier Experience and the founding of America, but lucky for both of us I ain't got the time or inclination.

The Gaffer's Rating: 2 out of 4 Del Montes.

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