And here we are, finally, at the start of things. Numero Uno. That poster art always did creep me out as a little kid, although I don't think I ever saw this movie until recently (not counting the review). And, actually, I came to appreciate Disciples of the Crow a bit more after watching this first official installment - I think it played its cards right with regard to King's original story, as the changes made in Children of the Corn made the ambiance less spooky. The main characters walking into town without a huge grasp of what was happening would've been the smart choice - just like in those "Twilight Zone" episodes. We were never really told what the hell was happening in Disciples, but in this first Corny - we get a backstory narrated by that kid from Monster Squad: in Gatlin, Nebraska (relocated from the original South [although not in King's story]...I guess in order to facilitate corn a bit better?) a bunch of creepy kids decided they had an in with some demon they call He Who Walks Behind the Rows, killed every adult in town (like 7 of them), and set up a boring theocracy ruled by alleged corn-daddy prophet Isaac (whose creepiness owes itself largely to the fact that actor John Franklin suffers from growth hormone deficiency). Everybody over age 19 goes into the corn to be consumed by a corn-wumpus.
Burt and Vicky (Linda Hamilton, who was having a pretty big year in 1984) are a happy couple in this tale; Burt is a vigorous young doctor headed for a sweet new residency in Somewhere Populated, but there's no inherent mystery or intrigue involved in what they're doing, because we already got the lowdown on the murderous children and their demon-daddy. So things play out more as a diluted novelty - there's a really annoying ginger (Malachi) trying to take over from Isaac and he yells "Outlander!!" like a dong several times. There's surprisingly little here to talk about - Burt and Vicky finally figure out the backstory we've already been privy to, then run away from kids who should've been hilariously outmatched by them, even wielding farm equipment. Lots of goofy faux-Christian imagery (but with corn), and a pretty hamfisted scene wherein Burt takes the kids to task for their religious zealotry, giving this film its completely gratuitous "critique" of evangelical Christianity. Anyway, highlights include HWWBtR showing up as some kind of entity that burrows hilariously like Bugs Bunny...and a poorly FX'd red cloud. Huh.
This was disappointing. Usually the real horror of Franchise Follies is discovering what a piece of shit the franchise's maiden voyage is, but Children of the Corn isn't really bad, it's just dull as hell. I don't think creepy children were all that uncommon by 1984, so I don't really understand the staying power this thing had that would propel it to umpteen sequels - except that the whole demon masquerading as regla' god and a sacrificial kid-cult bring to mind Lovecraft and Village of the Damned, respectively, but that Nutella is thinly-spread across some corn toast, my friend!
The Gaffer's Rating: 1.5 Kellogg's out of 4.