In 1978, Stephen King released a short story collection titled Night Shift. It included 20 stories. Out of the 20, nine have been adapted into feature length films and one into a TV show, most of the rest has been made into short films or episodes of anthology series. The name of one of them was used for a film as “Stephen King’s Lawnmower Man,” but King sued because the film had nothing to do with the short story. The number of films adapted from those nine short stories is 22. 11 of them are Children of the Corn films.
If we rank Stephen King’s works on how many movies were based on them, then Children of the Corn reigns supreme, the second place goes to Carrie with four.
The original short story is not one of my favorites. It’s about 30 pages, 20 of those are a married couple that hate each other bickering. They get lost somewhere in Nebraska, hit a child with their car, realize the child was murdered, find a town that seems to have been desolated for over a decade. At around the 20-page mark, murderous children arrive, kill the wife and the husband is devoured by a Lovecraftian corn deity, He Who Walks Behind the Rows. We get a little bit of information about this corn-based cult in the last two pages, where the children who have reached adulthood go into the corn to be devoured, too.
This murderous cult of children somehow has managed to stay relevant when it comes to horror film making, the first adaptation was made in 1984 and got 8 sequels, then it was remade in 2009 and then again in 2020. I think most people are more interested in the idea of the cult rather than the actual execution of it in films. It does it a nerve, which I think is quite universal. The fear of children, or better yet, the fear of what children might do and how society kind of makes us helpless if it comes to it.
Think about it, if an adult comes at you with a knife and you defend yourself, it was always a just cause. If a child comes at you with a knife and you defend yourself, it was obviously just playing, and you are the asshole who punched a six-year-old.
Also, I think we can all agree that children are spooky as fuck.
Do I need to watch The Children of the Corn films in order?
No, these films are just connected by the idea of the cult. Some are about children from the town in the first film, however, only the sixth film, Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return (1999), has a returning character.
What Children of the Corn films are worth watching?
I would say watch Children of the Corn (1984) first, just so you have seen it and then the first two sequels: Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992) and Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995), both are better than the first one. I also enjoyed Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998), so watch the first five and skip the rest.