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Fritz Kiersch
Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, RG Armstrong
Writing Credits:
George Goldsmith

A young couple gets trapped in a remote town where a dangerous religious cult of children believe everyone over the age of 18 must be killed.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 10/3/2017

• Audio Commentary with Director Fritz Kiersch, Producer Terrence Kirby and Actors John Franklin and Courtney Gauns
• Audio Commentary with Horror Journalist Justin Beahm and Film Historian John Sullivan
• “Harvesting Horror” Documentary
• “It Was the Eighties!” Featurette
• “And a Small Child Shall Lead Them” Featurette
• “Field of Nightmares” Featurette
• “Stephen King on a Shoestring” Featurette
• ”Welcome to Gatlin” Featurette
• “Return to Gatlin” Featurette
• “Cut From the Cornfield” Featurette
• Storyboard Gallery
• “Disciples of the Crow” Short Film
• Trailer
• Booklet
• Poster


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Children of the Corn: Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray] (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 27, 2017)

Based on a Stephen King short story, 1984’s Children of the Corn introduces us to Burt Stanton (Peter Horton) and his girlfriend Vicky Baxter (Linda Hamilton). Because Burt got a job in Seattle as a physician, they made the road trip west.

When they enter Nebraska, they stumble upon the small town of Gatlin due to unfortunate circumstances. When their car hits a young boy, they discover someone already had stabbed the child prior to the accident.

Vicky and Burt seek help in Gatlin and discover a town apparently devoid of adults. From there they get drawn into the wicked circumstances of this child-centered burg.

As I write this in mid-September 2017, It - another film adapted from Stephen King’s work – resides at the top of the box office charts. In three weeks, it took in $268 million US, a figure that alrady makes it the most commercially successful King adaptation ever – and by a wide margin, as second place Green Mile clocked in with barely half that amount.

Given Hollywood’s “me too” tendencies, I’d bet this leads to a flood of new King adaptations, but I doubt Corn will get a shot as part of that revival. It already got remade as a 2009 TV movie, one that apparently wasn’t well-regarded, so studios may not want to give it a third try.

If we do get another version of Corn, I imagine it’ll better this one. It might not be the worst adaptation of a King story I’ve seen, but it definitely falls on the “flop” list.

Apparently the film takes considerable liberties with the source, and it doesn’t seem to improve on its predecessor. Whereas the story opened with a focus on Burt and Vicky, the movie instead introduces the situation in Gatlin and lets us see what happened to the adults.

This feels like a mistake, as it removes much of the tale’s inherent drama. Had Corn introduced Vicky and Burt and let us discover the horror along with them, it could’ve brought out real dramatic impact.

Instead, Corn robs the narrative of force and creates a sluggish piece that dawdles and meanders. It doesn’t help that we get stuck with ample voiceover from Job (Robby Kiger), one of thee Gatlin kids. These lines offer tacky exposition and they don’t fit with the rest of the film.

Oddly, the voiceover disappears after a while – I guess the filmmakers figured we no longer needed stale exposition. They do continue to ladle cheap “scares” at us, stabs at terror that fail to convey any punch at all.

Like many movies, Corn confuses violence and gore for actual terror. It throws out blood but fails to deliver real fright – or even a sense of anxiety.

We do get lots of pointless character scenes that add nothing to the roles. Vicky sings to Burt! Job and his sister Sarah (AnneMarie McEvoy) play Monopoly! Whee!

None of the actors fare well. Though both professionals, Hamilton and Horton seem stiff and unconvincing as the leads, and all of the kids are terrible – there’s not a vivid performance in the bunch, and some of the actors become downright embarrassing.

All of this ensures that Corn flops from beginning to end. A lazy, half-hearted mush of narrative threads with no coherence, the movie stinks.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus A-

Children of the Corn appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a surprisingly strong image.

Sharpness almost always held up well. A few wider shots betrayed a smidgen of softness, but the majority of the film appeared concise and well-defined.

No signs of shimmering or jaggies appeared, and edge haloes remained absent. With a natural layer of grain, I saw no indications of digital noise reduction, and print flaws failed to mar the presentation.

Though many 1980s movies suffered from messy colors, the hues of Corn stood out as a positive. The film’s natural palette offered warm, vivid tones that always looked nice.

Blacks appeared dark and deep, while shadows appeared largely smooth and clear. A couple of low-light shots could be a tad dense, but most of these segments came across with appropriate delineation. I felt wholly pleased with this better than anticipated image.

Though not bad, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack seemed more ordinary. Much of the material remained fairly monaural, so don’t expect a lot of motion or immersiveness.

Music showed decent stereo spread, and the film gave us a passable sense of environment at times. Cars also moved from one channel to another in a reasonable manner. None of this added up to much, though, as the soundfield lacked a lot of ambition.

Audio quality appeared fine for its age. Music was fairly bright and full, while speech appeared natural and concise, without obvious edginess. Effects brought us reasonably accurate elements – they lacked much punch but they seemed clean enough. This was an acceptable mix for a 1980s movie.

This Blu-ray release packs a slew of extras, and we open with two separate audio commentaries. The first involves director Fritz Kiersch, producer Terrence Kirby and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains. All four fir together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, cast and performances, various aspects of the shoot and connected domains.

As a commentary, this chat proves to be completely average. While it moves at a decent rate and includes a decent number of observations, it never becomes anything memorable. It’s not a bad listen but it fails to tell us much.

For the second commentary, we hear from horror journalist Justin Beahm and film historian John Sullivan. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion of sets and locations, cast and crew, comparisons between the original story and the film, and sequels.

The operator of a Corn-oriented website, Sullivan offers most of the content here, though he doesn’t give us a very broad look at the film. Sullivan heavily dwells on the movie’s locations, and a little of this goes a long way. Sullivan gives us decent notes, but I wish he’d spent less time on details about the various sets.

Still, that beats Beahm’s material, as he offers little of use. Beahm tends to simply list credits of participants, a task the listener could pull off via a visit to IMDB.

Beahm also shows a surprising lack of knowledge of 1980s horror. He claims Corn predated the “splatter” era, whereas it came out smack-dab in that sub-genre’s heyday. He also thinks 1982’s Thing came out in the late 1980s.

When a so-called “horror historian” gets such basic facts wrong, it makes it difficult to trust his other statements. Combined with Sullivan’s focus on location-related trivia, this ends up as a disappointing commentary.

A slew of video programs follow, and we find a documentary called Harvesting Horror. It lasts 36 minutes, 15 seconds and offers notes from Kiersch, Franklin and Gains.

“Horror” examines Kiersch’s involvement in the production, location scouts, cast and performances, sets and locations, effects and general memories of the shoot. We get some repetition from the commentary, but a mix of new notes make this a worthwhile piece.

An interview with actor Linda Hamilton arrives via It Was the Eighties. In this 14-minute, seven-second reel, Hamilton discusses how she got the role and aspects of her experiences during the shoot. Hamilton provides a lively discussion of the film.

Next comes And a Small Child Shall Lead Them. a 50-minute, 52-second program with actors Julie Maddalena and John Philbin. Ala the Hamilton interview, the actors look at how they came onto the film as well as thoughts about their characters and co-stars and memories of the shoot.

We get some good notes, but “Lead” probably runs too long. Face it: Maddalena and Philbin played fairly minor roles, so nearly an hour of comments feels excessive. Still, it’s a decent overview.

With Field of Nightmares, we find a 17-minute, 19-second chat with writer George Goldsmith. As expected, he discusses his screenplay as well as other aspects of his career. The best parts of “Field” look at changes he made from Stephen King’s original, and those elements offer useful material.

A chat with producer Donald P. Borchers comes via Stephen King on a Shoestring. This one fills 11 minutes, 18 seconds and features Borchers’ thoughts about the project’s development, casting, locations, and budget-related issues. Borchers delivers a mix of informative remarks.

With Welcome to Gatlin, we get a 15-minute, 29-second program with production designer Craig Stearns and composer Jonathan Elias. As expected, they cover sets/locations and music as well as other aspects of their careers. Once again, we find a useful collection of notes.

After this we Return to Gatlin. In the 16-minute, 29-second show, Corn historian John Sullivan takes us to revisit the movie’s sets and locations circa 2017. It becomes a moderately interesting view of the area, but I can’t claim it proves to be especially compelling, especially since Sullivan already told us so much about the topic in his commentary.

Cut From the Cornfield goes five minutes, 30 seconds and features actor Rich Kleinberg. He discusses his participation in the film, with an emphasis on a cut scene about the “Blue Man”. Unfortunately, we don’t see any of this unused sequence, but Kleinberg gives us a decent recollection of it.

A Storyboard Gallery offers a running five-minute, 31-second compilation that looks at the sequence in which our leads run over a kid. We find 64 images, and they’re reasonably interesting, but the presentation flops.

The disc shows the boards at an angle for no logical reason, and it also superimposes fake blood on aspects of the frame. These seem like weird and pointless choices.

Finally, a short film called Disciples of the Crow lasts 18 minutes, 56 seconds. It presents a 1983 adaptation of the original Stephen King story. It’s even more amateurish than Corn but it stays truer to the source and it doesn’t waste as much of our time, so those seem like positives.

In addition to the film’s Trailer, the package concludes with some paper materials. We get a double-sided poster as well as a booklet with film historians John Sullivam and Lee Gambin. These add value to the set.

Have I seen worse adaptations of Stephen King stories than Children of the Corn? Yup, but that’s faint praise at best, for this movie offers a tacky, cheap scare-free piece of cheese. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture along with adequate audio and an extensive collection of supplements. Though this becomes a fine Blu-ray, Corn fails as a film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
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