Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Children of the Corn (1984).

This film didn't scare me. It wasn't the worst thing I have ever seen, but it was laughably poor in places. Look, I know it was a Stephen King adaptation and the yardstick is rarely very high for those - but it is possible to do something successful with his material. I saw The Mist over the xmas holidays so I know this to be the case.

Well maybe not in 1984 - unless Firestarter is any good, I haven't seen it.

For this post I am going to walk you through some screencaps I have taken from Children of the Corn, and discuss what is scary, not scary, scary in completely the wrong way and... whatever damn else I feel like mentioning. I was actually given the boxset of all three Corn films, so perhaps I'll do this with all of them, who knows? It really depends on how bad they get to be honest.

Okay, let's start with the image-heaviness.

Creepy looking children staring menacingly through windows.

Not scary: Bad "poisoned" acting by old ladies.

Scary: Meat cleavers being waved around in a coffee shop.

Not scary: Children's drawings. I know a children-slant on horror can have great results (child's voices, nursery rhymes etc), but the drawings in this film didn't work. In fact they just pissed me off because she kept getting her S's the wrong way around.

Scary in the wrong way: Linda Hamilton singing and dancing. For a long time. In fact it even cuts away from her doing so, and then back again. Twice.

An aside: I'm not sure it is fair of me to mock this obvious dummy-work, as I only noticed this shot when I had the film paused, progressing frame by frame. Still, funny.

Scary in the wrong way: How pointy those trainers are.

An aside: I like this shot. Although it has to be said there are a lot of "hand holding weapon looming into frame" shots in this movie, which dampens their impact a bit.

Scary: Zombie children! Well, it was a good jump moment anyway.

Scary in the wrong way: Bad "laugh" acting by young children.

Not scary: Corn on the cob crucifixes.

Scary: I love the composition of this. One of the rare moments this film gets something very right.

Scary: Advancing armed child gangs.

Not scary: Corn-based vehicle vandalism.

Not scary: Histrionic child-acting.

Scary: Rotten crucified cops. Maybe more cool than scary, but it works for me anyway.

Not scary: Corn-haired and pink lipsticked Jesus.

Not scary: Obviously fake knives. Where is that blood coming from exactly?!

Not scary: More histrionic child-acting.

Not scary: More histrionic child-acting.

Scary: Deserted towns.

Scary: Sinister religious rituals at dusk.

Scary: Surprisingly genuine acting. He looked utterly petrified.

Not scary: Climatic reveal of much talked about monster results in some truly shitty CGI...

Not scary: ...and the corn crucifix taking off like a rocket? Against a sky which is lighter than in the previous shot.

Not scary: Corn "attacking" (and overpowering) a grown man.

Not scary: More shitty CGI. Looks like marshmallows.

Not scary: The grimacing face that seems to appear in this explosion.

Scary: Backseat assailants.

So the tally is closer than I suspected at:
Scary: 10
Not Scary: 14
Scary in the wrong way: 3

The problem is mainly in the pacing. After an introduction showing the children turning against the adults of the town, the focus switches to Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton driving through it three years later. For almost an hour, nothing of any consequence happens. By the time the decently scary moments started happening, it was a little too late for me to care. On top of this the bad computer effects and startling lack of continuity with regards to what time of day it is! Harsh but fair, I assure you.

Wish me luck with the sequel...