Friday, October 31, 2014

Children of the Corn: Episode IX

It's always a surreal moment when we finally catch up to the almost-present in a long series of horror films. How have things changed in the 28 years (sheesh!) that this series has been active? Apparently there is rumor of another Children of the Corn remake, although there's rightful doubt it will get off the ground. To me, that sums up this whole enterprise: there's no direction this series can go, just the replaying of its most basic elements over and over in diluted sequels or pointless retreads.

Anyway, let's get this over with. Children of the Corn: Genesis. Wow, thanks for the 2nd most-generic horror subtitle ever. We start in 1973, where a Nam vet returns home to Gatlin right after the kids have arisen to kill their adult overlords. Ambiguous things happen. Cut to the present, where a couple is stranded on the side of the road in the hot, hot sun, their car broken down. Another couple, another fear-of-the-rural trope. Tim is an ineffectual weenis constantly belittled by his preggers wife, Allie, who has the temperament of a rabies-bloated rat terrier with added condescension. Man, what lovable guys! Why do shitty horror movies try to build tension around the most unlikable people? At least Allie has some sweet boobs.

The bickering couple arrive at the home of....*snicker*...oh goodie....Billy Drago. Despite their establishing very quickly that he is criminally insane because he's Billy Drago, they accept his leering, creepy, languid, disturbing hospitality. Oh, and he has a 20-something wife freshly imported from The Ukraine who is also creepy and likes grabbing Tim's wiener. Firmly established in a weird, stupid situation, the couple experiences even weirder things. Allie explores the surrounding farm to find a weird place a worship and what appears to be an imprisoned child in a shed. They manage to call the police, but the cop who investigates flies comically up into the air and won't fall down until the credits. Um...that's actually kind of hilarious. Stupid, but hilarious. Oh, and some telekinetic force that may be the kid is trapping Allie and Tim in the house.

I'd cut the story short, but I'm actually not sure what the plot is. Drago says something about the corny cult needing baby-mamas...the kid may be He Who Pop-n-Locks Behind the Rows...but who knows, or wants to know? The couple escape, but the kid uses his evil-kinesis to crash their car using...oh fuck...stock footage from Bad Boys II!?!? Now that's a travesty. Allie is brought back to the kid. Roll credits. Cop falls hilariously to the ground. Roll more credits. What a pointless pile of dicks.

The Gaffer's Rating: 1 Candy Corn out of 4.

Jesus. This was rough. In trying to pin down why exactly why I hated this series, I think it comes down to a basic element: none of this was particularly fun. Children of the Corn is stern, bleary, dull, and repetitive. While the umpteen films of other horror franchises like The Howling or Hellraiser certainly have worse films than anything in CotC, many of those films still maintain a sense of outrageousness or camp that temper their poor quality. Except for Part II and a handful of moments in Parts III and V, there wasn't any fun to be had here, certainly none worth slogging through the boredom and ineptitude of these 9½ clunkers. It's far better to be bad than ordinary, which this franchise was every step of the way.

There's also a noticeable lack of familiar tropes that kept other flagships afloat, like a main villain. I mean, yeah, we had He Who Dougies Behind the Rows, which began as a neat archetypal concept, but it was so inconsistently portrayed or stupidly elaborated upon that it hardly counts. Other tropes? Uh, murder-kids with farm equipment. And a grain crop. There was almost no attempt at establishing a series mythology, save for the paltry efforts of Part VI, which was like sprinkling corn into a turd that already has corn in it. Boo.

Ultimately, the most we can critique from this series are some familiar elements of American horror: we are scared of the rural and the religious. Fair point, moving on. That's it for Franchise Follies this year. Let's hope next year brings us a better crop. Yeeaaah.