It starts with a great scene. A bunch of unexpecting adults of various ages are sitting in a coffee shop after Sunday church. The children enter. As all children, these children are creepy. Unlike most children, these ones are armed with poison, hatchets, knifes and sickles, and they start killing the adults. From outside the shop, the creepiest of all the children, Isaac (a ten-year-old dressed like a preacher), watches gleefully. All of this is narrated by Job, one of two kids who weren’t allowed to hang out with Isaac in the corn (the other kid is his sister, Sarah).
And then we go to Linda Hamilton singing a song about school being out to one of the characters from “Thirtysomething.” The couple go on the road and end up in the town from the previous scene, a town now run by the tight fundamentalist grip of Isaac and his children of the corn.
And so starts the first entry in the horror series about the deity He Who Walks Behind the Rows and the children that follow it. A series that includes eight sequels and two remakes—overall eleven films (for comparison, there are twelve films about Jason Vorhees and nine about Freddy Krueger)—all loosely based upon one short story by Stephen King.
You wouldn’t really think this would turn into one of the longest running horror series based on how limited the content you have in these 90 minutes here. Not much happens. The couple intrude on the town. Walk about. Sometimes a child watches from afar. Linda Hamilton finds Sarah, who can predict the future through drawings. The kids try to capture the adults, etc.
A town run by psychopathic Christian children is scary, but the tension is lost here. The idea is also interesting, how does a town where everyone over 18 is sacrificed to a corn god function in daily life? There is none of that here. How did Isaac, the sassy lovechild of Billy Eichner and Tig Notaro, brainwash all these children? Maybe in the sequels.
Outside of Courtney Gains—who portrays Malachai, the redheaded second in command to Isaac—none of the kid actors had careers in films and the reason for it shows on screen. John Franklin (Isaac) is fine but doesn’t count as a kid actor since he was 25 years old (also he didn’t have a career after this). The adults, Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton are fine, but they don’t have much to work with.
“Children of the Corn” is memorable, but more as an idea, a feeling, rather than an actual film. It’s one of the scary films you saw as a kid and when you rewatch it, you wonder when the scene that scared you so much pops up, but it never does.