Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Children of the Corn

"Children of the Corn" was originally a short story in Stephen King's book Night Shift. Many movies have been based on King's novels and short stories, likewise many of the movies suck. This one I hold as an exception. It's actually very well made. It has a great idea, good plot, decent acting and a really creepy religious atmosphere that Stephen King has often employed amongst his many works, both books and film. Plus, the idea of killer children always fascinates me. Anyway, the story starts off with a hell of a massacre in a little coffee shop in the rinky dink town of Gatlin, Nebraska. As a creepy child preacher watches through the window as all of the children suddenly employ everything from knives to poison in killing everyone in the place. A young boy named Jobe witnesses the massacre, yet is left alive. This happened everywhere in Gatlin that day. All the adults have been slaughtered by their children under the commandment of the boy preacher named Issac. Isaac has been given what he believes to be direct orders from God himself, by name referred to here as "He Who Walks Behind the Rows". A sentence from the Bible that reads "And a child shall lead them" is one of the supports for the convincing of children that adults should not live. These children often gather in the cornfield and with pitch forks and scythes (chanting "Kill Kill Kill") they listen to Isaac's preaching and obey every word he says. On the day of the slaughter, Jobe's sister Sarah suddenly has a talent for precognition (she sees the future). She often draws pictures that are scenes that are soon to happen. Three years later, Burt and Vicky, a couple traveling through Nebraska get lost amongst it's bland back roads that are nothing but road and corn fields as far as the eye can see. Suddenly a child stumbles into the middle of the road, and because Vicky and Burt are looking at a map trying to figure out where they are, they don't see him. They hit him head on and his bloody mangled corpse is truly a sight to behold. Burt is a doctor and while examining the boy's body, he notices that his throat has been deliberately slit and was probably already dead when he stumbled out onto the road. They put his body in the trunk and go in search of help. By the way, the boy (Joseph) was murdered by Malachai, who is sort of the enforcer among the child cult, answering directly to Isaac. Because Joseph tried to flee and get help. Isaac preaches "Joseph fled this happy place because the worship of me is no more upon him, so take you his life and spill his blood, but let not the flesh pollute the corn. Cast him instead upon the road. And so it was done, Joseph the betrayer was cast out". While trying desperately to find a town, so that they can report Joseph's murder, Burt and Vicky get lost and end up in the barren town of Gatlin. Quickly they realize that it's a ghost town with the exception of a few mysterious children running around. Because Sarah has the "gift of sight" she is coveted and protected by Isaac, even though she and her brother Jobe are often caught playing which is evidently a big no-no among satanic child cults. "God" has given Isaac the vision that outlanders are to come soon and that these outlanders will be unbelievers and profaners of the holy and must be sacrificed as an offering to please He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Isaac's vision is confirmed by Sarah's drawing of a car upon the road. Burt and Vicky start realizing that this town is definitely strange, but do not yet know how much danger they're in. Burt goes to the town hall to look around. He notices biblical graffiti everywhere as well as some disturbingly vandalized religious pictures. While Burt is checking out the town hall, Vicky is accosted by the children, dragged to the corn field and is tied to a cross in a crucified position. Since no adults are to be allowed to live, they must offer themselves to "The Lord" on the first day of their 19th year. When a child named Amos has to "leave", Isaac is told that this is the opportune time to offer the blood of the unbelievers. Malachai eventually gets sick of worshipping Isaac and decides that he can deal with the god of hell all on his own. The children remove Vicky from the cross and put Isaac in her place. Using Vicky as bait, they lure Burt into the corn field. He and Vicky break free as He Who Walks Behind the Rows comes forth as a thundering red cloud to take Amos. Isaac is taken instead, comes back possessed and kills Malachai. Burt, Vicky, Sarah and Jobe (who have all sorta bonded by this time because Sarah and Jobe hate having to worship a prick like Isaac) hide in a nearby barn. The rest of the children follow. I guess after seeing so much death and how Isaac was so easily betrayed, they figure that this whole murderous cult thing is for the birds. The wind rises and billows of flaming clouds fill the sky, "The Lord" is evidently coming forth to take everyone because he's pissed that the sacrifice of the outlanders didn't occur and that the children have seen the truth in that they were deceived by a false god feeding his appetite on the blood of sacrifice. Before his slaughter, a policeman tried to defeat the monster but was killed before he could execute his plan. Jobe tells of a passage from the Bible that the policeman was reading shortly before his murder... "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone and shall be tormented there day and night forever and ever". Jobe also tells that the officer was working with the gasohol still when killed. Burt makes the connection between the Bible passage and the gasohol... fire. Mr. Officer was gonna burn the field. Burt then painstakingly hooks the gasohol to the corn field sprinkler system which drenches the field in a highly flammable substance. A bottle with a burning rag is thrown into the field and quickly burns it down. Eventually the fire makes it to where the demon is and a dazzling performance of his demise, done with rather cheap yet effective digital effects is employed. Burt, Vicky, Sarah and Jobe, make it back to their car which has been vandalized with corn, much like everything else in this creepy little town. Mangled, exhausted and down right pooped, they have no choice to try and walk to the nearest town, one that's not so dramatic. Since Jobe (who was at the coffee shop during the sermon that foretold that every adult was to killed) and Sarah (who was home in bed with a fever drawing precognitive images) also didn't witness the occasion when He Who Walks Behind the Rows made himself known and therefore have no violent tendencies. We never learn what happened to all the other children, but Sarah and Jobe are somewhat adopted by Burt and Vicky. The End. I've had to leave many interesting topics and situations out, which are very intricate to the film's many facets and subplots, but I can only divulge so much information, making it possible to keep some surprises when/ if you ever get to view this masterpiece. I must mention though that a few things did differ from the short story and the film adaptation. The short story follows the basic structure of the movie for most of the beginning, but doesn't have such a happy ending. In the short story, Vicky is crucified and has her eyes cut out and Burt is sliced to ribbons by the children shortly after he figures out what has happened with the boy preacher and the blood sacrifices, he is soon caught and both Burt and Vicky are presented as offerings to the God of Hell. The children then continue to inhabit the corn field awaiting the next set of outlanders that will be offered to the devil by bloody sacrifice. The atmosphere of this film is so ominous that you really feel the emotions of the characters and the dread that they feel as the coming of devil is at hand.

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