4K UHD Review: Children of the Corn

When you drive around the countryside in the late summer, the corn grows right up against the road. You don’t think too much of it. Mostly figure you need to get down to the farmer’s market to get a dozen ears of Silver Queen or the latest sweet corn that is so tasty without putting a pat of butter on the kernels. The only popular culture reference were the pathetic stalks farmed by Mr. Douglas on Green Acres and lush green ones that the cast of Hee Haw hid behind. There was nothing scary about that crop until 1984 when Stephen King’s Children of the Corn arrived in theaters.

Deep in the heart of America sits Gatlin, Nebraska. It’s the type of place politicians call real Americans. They’re God fearing people who spend Sunday in church and the other six days working the cornfields. Except one Sunday after church the adults in Gatlin found themselves being harvested by their children. How could this have happened? The key is in creepy kid  Isaac Chroner (Addam’s Family’s John Frankin). Isaac seems to have set up a new religion in the small town. A few years later, Burt Stanton (thirtysomething’s Peter Horton) and Vicky Baxter (Terminator’s Linda Hamilton) are cutting through Nebraska on their way to Seattle. The corn stalks are high and dominate their view from the car. The couple have an accident on the road and attempt to get help. But the only help is a garage with a mechanic (The Beast Within‘s R.G. Armstrong) who doesn’t want to help the couple. They end up in Gatlin which seems abandoned although lurking in the shadow are the children and they aren’t happy that grownups have arrived. Will the couple discover who is “He who walks behind the rows?”

The cast keeps up the tension in the film. Hamilton and Horton are believable as the couple put in a stressful situation when the rural life turns into a nightmare. They so goofy and fun in the beginning. But as they get deep in the corn, they express terror as they face the kids with their knives and other farm implements of death. John Franklin is so convincing as the cult leader Isaac that you fear people are driving out to Nebraska to follow his corn cult. The film becomes especially scary when you do spend the day driving past giant corn fields. Who will step out from those stalks and attack my car wasn’t a thought I had before seeing this film. Children of the Corn was a hit in theaters and became a sensation on home video. The term Children of the Corn gets used to describe any really creepy group of people when you get lost on a cross country journey. Seeing Children of the Corn upgraded to 4K UHD will make you scream when offered a scoop of Green Giant Niblets.

The Video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 4K UHD image will give you an even sharper view of the corn that is all over the place. The transfer was struck off the original camera negative. This looks so much better than the VHS tape I saw back in the ’80s. The audio is LPCM 2.0 of the original mix that played in theaters. There’s also a 5.1 audio mix to get you surrounded by the corn. The movie is subtitled.

Audio commentary with director Fritz Kiersch, producer Terrence Kirby and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains.

Audio commentary with horror journalist Justin Beahm and Children of the Corn historian John Sullivan. Sullivan has been out to Iowa to visit the locations so he has plenty of information about the film.

Harvesting Horror (36:15) is the making of Children of the Corn, with director Fritz Kiersch and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains sharing their memories of being in the field. Kiersch shot commercials before one of his actors got hired at New World as an executive. The actor called up Kiersch and offered him Children of the Corn. This is why you have to be nice to people. He talks about how it was important it was in casting Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton. He discusses getting the right children for the corn. John Franklin talks about how he was 23 and looked 12. This helped him land the part.

It Was the Eighties! (14:07) sits down with actress Linda Hamilton. She auditioned for the role. She’s a fan of Stephen King and had read the book so she wanted to be a part of the film.

Return to Gatlin (16:29) is John Sullivan giving us a tour of the film’s original Iowa shooting locations. It really hasn’t changed that much since 1984. A few places burned down or fell over. They could remake the film. The town was excited when the movie crew arrived.

Stephen King on a Shoestring (11:18) gets into the details with producer Donald Borchers. He had originally approached Sam Raimi to direct. He had to get the rights to the film from the Hal Roach Studios. The guy who gave us the Little Rascals could have made Children of the Corn.

Welcome to Gatlin: The Sights and Sounds of Children of the Corn (15:29) lets production designer Craig Stearns and composer Jonathan Elias discuss creating the sense of the corn being so ominous.

Cut from the Cornfield (5:30) catches up with the actor who played “The Blue Man” in a scene that was deleted. He describes the lost scene. Luckily he has a foreign lobby card with him being sliced up. He says the adults that were killed were from the local community theater. He enjoys getting to see his friends in the film along with a bittersweet sensation that he was cut out.

Theatrical Trailer (1:28) takes us deep into the corn field.

Disciples of the Crow (18:56) is a 1983 short film version of Stephen King’s short story. Director John Woodward made this as part of Stephen King’s deal to let film students make his short stories as short films for only $1 for the rights. The short film is great with creepy child actors.

Arrow Video presents Children of the Corn. Directed by Fritz Kiersch. Screenplay by George Goldsmith. Starring Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R. G. Armstrong, John Franklin, Courtney Gains, Robby Kiger, Anne Marie McEvoy, Julie Maddalena, Jonas Marlowe and John Philbin. Rating: Running Time: 92 minutes. Rating: Rated R. Release Date: September 28, 2021.

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