Children of the Corn (1984 franchise)

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The tome and "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" from the Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest...

The corny franchise of sequels to a 1984 horror film based on a Stephen King short story about a town full of creepy child corn-cultists.

Summary

The Children of the Corn franchise about a sinister cult of children who worship the Great Old One He Who Walks Behind the Rows consists of the original short story by Stephen King, a short film, a long-running film series of sequels, and a made-for-TV reboot film.

  • "Children of the Corn" (1977 short story)
  • "Disciples of the Crow" (1983 short film)
  • Children of the Corn (1984 film)
  • Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992 film)
  • Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995 film)
  • Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996 film)
  • Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998 film)
  • Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return (1999 film)
  • Children of the Corn: Revelation (2001 film)
  • Children of the Corn: Genesis (2011 film)
  • Children of the Corn: Runaway (2017 film)
  • Children of the Corn (2009 made-for-TV film reboot)

Details

  • Release Date: 1977-present
  • Country/Language: USA, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror
  • Starring: (various, including Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts)
  • Director: (various)
  • Writer: Stephen King (original story)
  • Producer/Production Co: Dimension Films
  • View Film: (link, link)

Ratings

MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: MPAARATING (notes)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

Based increasingly loosely on a short and vaguely "Lovecraftian" story by Stephen King, the pieces seem like they should all be there: an eldritch abomination "elder god" known only as He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a fanatical cult of creepy kids in faux-Amish costumes led by black-magic-using creepy kid prophets, an unsettling and unearthly setting of creepy farmhouses and abandoned factories in the middle of vast fields of corn and radio stations that play nothing but fire-and-brimstone religious programming, a creepy tome decorated with kernels of corn that appears from time to time when the cult gets really serious, and hapless parties of ordinary people who stumble into shadowy corn cribs, decrepit barns, eerie cornfields haunted by sinister scarecrows, and other such places to unearth all sorts of deadly and disturbing secrets. Sadly, the film series never puts these potentially effective pieces together in any particularly atmospheric or creepy way, and what results is just a dozen or so schlocky, hokey, and misguided horror sequels.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.

Reviews

Review Links:

  • Y.Whateley - "This series of what seems like hundreds of corny sequels (yes, I went there) based increasingly loosely on a short story by Stephen King, in one of his imitations of Lovecraft. The pieces seem like they should all be there: an eldritch abomination of a kind of "elder god" known only as He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a fanatical cult of creepy kids in faux-Amish costumes led by black-magic-using creepy kid prophets, an unsettling and unearthly setting of creepy farmhouses and abandoned factories in the middle of vast fields of corn and radio stations that play nothing but fire-and-brimstone religious programming, a creepy tome decorated with kernels of corn that appears from time to time when the cult gets really serious, and hapless parties of ordinary people who stumble into shadowy corn cribs, decrepit barns, eerie cornfields haunted by sinister scarecrows, and other such places to unearth all sorts of deadly and disturbing secrets. Sadly, the handful of sequels I watched never put these potentially effective pieces together in any particularly atmospheric or creepy way, and what results is just a dozen or so schlocky, hokey, and misguided horror sequels. I've only watched up to the fourth film in the series before giving it a rest, but even by then it already looks tired, and, I think, the series could probably have benefited from a competent reboot. Chances are good that an enterprising keeper could home-brew the basic ideas into a far better story than the film series manages, at any rate."
  • Josh Millican of Blood, Bath, and Beyond (link) - "...I had realistic expectations, knowing that most of the sequels went straight to DVD. But a film couldn’t possibly have this many chapters without a loyal fan base, right? And said fan base wouldn’t continue to gobble up sequel after sequel if they weren’t at least decent, right? Right?"


Synopses

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1977 short story) - A bickering couple passing through Nebraska are forced to make an unplanned stop near the seemingly deserted small town of Gatlin when they accidentally run over the body of a young boy with a slit throat. In the boy's suitcase and in the town's church, the couple find unsettling artifacts of a bizarre corn cult dedicated to "He Who Walks Behind the Rows". Things go from bad to worse after dark when the town's psychotic cultist children come out to play....
  • DISCIPLES OF THE CROW - a 1983 short film, the first adaptation of Stephen King's short story Children of the Corn. It is very loosely based on the story, reset in Jonah, Oklahoma.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984 film) - As physician Burt Stanton and his girlfriend, Vicky, drive across the Midwest to his new job, their trip comes to a sudden halt when they encounter the body of a murdered boy in the road. In trying to contact the authorities, Burt and Vicky wander into a small town populated only by children, followers of sinister young preacher Isaac. Soon the couple is fleeing the youthful fanatics, who want to sacrifice them to their demonic deity.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN II: THE FINAL SACRIFICE - Amid inexplicable references to "The Wizard of Oz", a newsman and his son snoop around a Nebraska town where orphans rescued from Gatlin have begun killing the adults.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN III: URBAN HARVEST - A boy uses his powers of mind control to recruit Chicago children in his reign of terror against adult mankind.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN IV: THE GATHERING - Grace Rhodes, who is studying to be a doctor, returns to her hometown as a strange illness is afflicting the local children. The symptoms include a high fever and spasms, but even weirder is what happens the next day: All those with the illness claim they are somebody else -- then they begin murdering the grown-ups. After her sister undergoes the same sinister metamorphosis, Grace comes to believe there is some connection to an evil cult figure who may be returning from the grave.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN V: FIELDS OF TERROR - Determined to save her estranged brother from a suicide cult, a young woman faces murderous children and worse.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN 666: ISAAC'S RETURN - The daughter of one of the original members of a murderous cult composed of children who worship a demonic spirit called "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" travels to her hometown of Gatlin, Nebraska, to find her mother and explore her past. Upon her arrival, Isaac, the original cult leader, begins to wake from a coma. As Hannah tries to find out the truth about her lineage, violence, threats and strange rituals surround her.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN: REVELATION - After her grandmother vanishes, young Jamie decides to stay in the elderly woman's apartment in Nebraska in order to look for her. Unfortunately, all Jamie finds is a slew of sketchy neighbors and a large cornfield outside the window frequented by a bunch of creepy kids. As Jamie continues to look for her grandmother, the adults around her start to disappear, the children become more threatening and things take a supernatural turn as an evil spirit arises from the fields.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN: GENESIS - Seeking refuge at a secluded compound, a couple encounters a mysterious cult that worships a possessed boy.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN: RUNAWAY - A young pregnant girl escapes a murderous child cult in a small Midwestern town. She spends the next decade living anonymously in an attempt to spare her son the horrors that she experienced as a child, but after she lands in a small Oklahoma town, she finds that something is following her. Now, she must confront this evil or lose her child.
  • CHILDREN OF THE CORN (2009 made-for-TV film reboot) - While traveling through rural Nebraska, a couple encounters a religious cult of murderous children who worship a god that lives in their cornfield. Said to be one of the more faithful adaptations of this story.


Notes

Comments, Trivia, Dedication

Associated Mythos Elements


Keeper Notes

  • The basic "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" cult of creepy kids, possibly worshiping an aspect of Nyarlathotep or Shub-Niggurath, along with the rural Nebraska cornfield setting, could probably make a fair background for a Call of Cthulhu RPG adventure....


See Also

For more rural Lovecraftian horror, see also: