Tuesday, July 7, 2009

CHILDREN OF THE CORN (Blu-Ray)

Based on a short story by Stephen King, CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984) was a low budget horror film from New World Pictures and director Fritz Kiersch, that ultimately spawned a half-dozen sequels. Watching it today on Anchor Bay’s new Blu-Ray edition, I’m at a loss to understand its appeal.

Three years before the story begins, the children of Gatlin, Nebraska, led by a creepy child evangelist named Isaac (John Franklin), slaughtered all of the adults in town, save one. Isaac claims to speak for He Who Walks Behind the Rows, a supernatural entity that Isaac claims is God. Three years later, a young couple (Linda Hamilton, just pre-TERMINATOR, and Peter Horton, pre-THIRTYSOMETHING) arrive in Gatlin – now a virtual ghost town strewn with cornhusks – and are marked for blood sacrifice by the children.

I had never seen the movie before, nor any of its six sequels. I wasn’t impressed. I found the film neither scary nor particularly interesting, and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to buy the idea that no one – no tax collector, food delivery person, utility repairman, school official, out-of-town relative or State Trooper – had visited Gatlin in three years and noticed that something was up.

As a horror movie, CHILDREN OF THE CORN is curiously lacking in suspense and all the violence is handled tastefully – too tastefully, in fact – off-camera. Lots of knives and bladed farm implements are brandished, and a bit of blood is splattered, but no actual acts of violence are shown.

Obviously, the movie didn’t work for me. Equally obvious, however, is the fact that it made a lot of money, inspired all those sequels and clearly has a sizeable fanbase. And that fanbase should be very pleased with Anchor bay’s new Blu-Ray release.

The disc features a gorgeous, utterly flawless, 1.85:1 widescreen transfer in 1080p HD. Audio is 5.1 True HD. There’s an informative audio commentary with director Kiersch, producer Terrence Kirby, and cast members John Franklin and Courtney Gains. There’s a "pop-up" trivia feature, and a bunch of brand-new featurettes. These include interviews with production designer Craig Stearns and composer Jonathan Elias on the sights and sounds of the film, a very enjoyable on-screen interview with star Linda Hamilton, who remembers the film and experience with fondness, and an interview with producer Donald Borchers. There’s a behind-the-scenes documentary, a still gallery, storyboards, and the original theatrical trailer.

If you’re already a fan of CHILDREN OF THE CORN and/or the franchise, you will absolutely want to upgrade from any previous editions of the film to the Blu-Ray version (if you’re so equipped), because I cannot imagine the film looking and sounding any better than it does here. If you’re a horror buff who has somehow missed the movie over the years (as I am), then a rental to check it out might be worth your while. Just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t.

BUY: Children of the Corn [Blu-ray]