Sunday, January 16, 2011

Above image is from the rare Penthouse publishing of CHILDREN OF THE CORN from 1977.

I would not have become a fan of Stephen King’s work or even for that matter "Children of the Corn" if it was not for two variables in my life which have effected other parts of my being other than me being a Children of the Corn fan (most notably me being a fan of kaiju/tokusatsu eiga myself): being a God fearing Christian (no specific denomination, though if I had to choose, then Catholicism is the one I would choose) and two, the existence of the Sci-Fi Channel (which has changed it’s name to the SyFy channel, at least that it what it is while I write my book, and it was a stupid thing to do). The SciFi Channel (I am going to call it that, so sue me) was having it’s premier of it in I think 2002 and the advertising only had two scenes from the film, the shot of Malachi while everyone in the cult is saying "Praise God! Praise the Lord!" and a shot of Linda Hamilton on the corn cross. I thought it was going to be a faux-Christian mythos film, much like what "Constantine". I was wrong, and it became a semi-horrific obsession. Think about a nine year old kid watching every morning when he woke up the original Children of the Corn every morning for about a month till I had to make room for a faux Conan spin-off (Red Sonja).

Who doesn’t find the whole concept of children uniting under a demonic force to do what they think is right (which often times what happens, since once you live off of corn and obey God, no real wrong could be done)? It is one of those classic tales which go into fantasy. And me being younger than 19 can find through the films one thing good: a good teenage rebellion release other than the usual excuse of sports or heavy metal music. Plus, the films do offer something which is very awesome: the ways of the followers of He Who Walks Behind The Rows are. It is something which you could get nerdy with and learn - just like a real religion (though it is going to be harder to do than the other things people would normally get into).

Now since I have the reason why I got why I am a fan out of the way, I now got to talk about the films themselves. It is not secret that on a critical grading scale of these films that they are pretty bad films. Maybe not as bad as something which Tommy Wiseau makes (and I make that comment knowing fully well that the film "The Room" was made bad on purpose). And I also know that unlike films in kaiju eiga, these films for the most part have no deep meanings and are not deep at all. Nothing that will actually make you think as an intellectual.

But being the first person to write a book chronicling the film series, there has to be some things done. First, the different continuities of the series have to be listed. This is why when you go to the table of contents, you are going to see the 9 films split into 5 different series or continuities. This is based on the most logical ways to categorize the films in which makes sense.

Now, something which I have been accused of in the past is plagiarism. Or not so much plagiarism as it is not doing much original work as a regular film historian would do. But this is not the mindset I put myself in when I am writing a book like this. I think of this: "What can I do to make the most complete and definitive ‘making of’ in the written form?" And I hope in this effort that I have succeeded.

Now, why am I writing this work? Because since I became a fan, I have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for someone to come along and write a good book covering the history of the "Children of the Corn" film series, but it just never came along. Why doesn’t anyone write this already? The book not making money is not a good enough example not to write this book. Do you think August Ragone thought about profit when he wrote his book, "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters"? No! So I am going to give the fans the most comprehensive and most detailed "making of" the Children of the Corn series ever composed.

So, without further to do, I offer you the first manifesto published which gives you - as of my time - the most information regarding the ever so legendary cult film series, "Children of the Corn". Tell He Who Walks Behind The Rows I said, "Hi!"
Post Script:

Well, I have decided to post the text on blogger. I figured that the book would not be published because the company I would have to send it to - The Weinsteins - would say no. So, here it is. As for sources of information in here, unless you can't find sources by googling the direct quites in the text, here are some links:

There is also a bunch of stuff which used to be on old fan sites which are far gone now thanks to an 8 year gap between CHILDREN OF THE CORN REVELATION and the remake. If there is any other sources I have not credited, post a comment on this specific post and you are already labled a source. I tried writing a book on the subject and I failed. Not because I lost interest, since I am eagerly awaiting CHILDREN OF THE CORN VIII: THE DWELLER. But because it would be a waste of time for me. And chapters for FIELDS OF TERROR and THE GATHERING may not be written, keep checking back to see if they do if you so want them to be.

Making of images to come. Truckloads of them. From each film.

Chapter 2: "Disciples of the Crow"

Jonah, Oklahoma. 1971. The corn is yellow. Crows squawk. Billy - the leader of a cult - does a ritual with a wooden crucifix and does a symbol to the passing crow. He joins other children - making a seemingly vicious concoction containing corn and animals. Soon, the whole town wakes up to the song "Shall We Gather At The River". At church, Billy sees two things: his parents doing some naughty touching at church and a stained glass window of Christ suddenly turning gothic. The other children in the church notice. That night, all the adults in the town were executed for the corn and the crow.

12 Years Later, an older Billy sets a trap for an unfortunate animal to get caught in. We see the corn - it is thriving. But there is another child - running for his life. Enter Burt and Vicky. Durring an argument, the run over the child who was running for his life. Upon interrogation of the corpse, someone stabbed the kid with a knife with a corn cob handle and a steel crow head. Burt cuts off a little bag that the boy had tied to him. It was filled with corn seeds and a crow foot. Burt and Vicky and continue to drive with a corpse in their car trunk. While driving down the highway - Billy is watching him.

When driving down the road, Burt turns on the radio. Out of the stereo comes a preacher shouting Atonement! Once he turns it off (aptly after the preacher mentions something about a defiler of corn), Vicky notices a couple of signs on the road which read, "Defile the land and it will vomit you out!" Little do they notice that by the side of the row lies a hanging dead rabbit with it’s blood dripping into corn seeds and a crucified skeleton in usual farm-hand attire.

When they get to the town, Vicky starts getting paranoid at the fact that the town seems deserted. When they investigate the local restaurant, they notice that there is no once there. Along with the odd prices, there is a calendar hanging in the restaurant that has not been changed in 12 years. After another argument revolving around weather or not to stay in the town, Burt takes the car keys and goes to check out the town’s church, though Vicky in repulse decides to stab his hand. In the church, he notices that the Bible has been re-written with God having a name: "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" with the corn being mentioned numerous times and Jesus standing with a nice pick of a crow.

Outside, Vicky is confronted with a whole bunch of blood-thirsty children and Burt meets the leader in the church. Burt is almost stabbed by Billy, till he gets way. Along with stabbing one of the kids, Burt and Vicky get away. However, little do they know that due to one of the kid’s weapons, their engine is over heating. As they drive away in the sunset, a murder of crows fallows them - the murder getting denser and denser.

In this day and age, you would think people would know this, but they do not. This is the first film adaptation of the "Children of the Corn" short story done in "Dollar Baby" format. The film was - since I had a chance to see it repeatedly before the remake was released - at the time the most faithful adaptation of the Stephen King short. And it is pretty good. We get some nice acting - everyone is staying true to their parts, the pacing of the short film is just perfect. It is very good! The only things which I wonder about is why have the children worship a crow God? Sure, they mentioned "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" in the film but I was really confounded by this development in the story.

How does the film do on a "horror movie" scale? I will not lie, this does have a lot of potential to scare, but it will only work if this film just happened to be the first horror film that you see. The SFX are ok, the music is very moody, and the look of the film does get eerie. Even some of the blood effects for Joseph when he runs out of the cornfield and gets ran over is pretty good. Plus there is other stuff, such like the rabbit being drained of it’s blood for the corn and two different crucified skeletons. It does keeps it’s eerie tone.

How about the negatives? Sadly, due to it’s short running time, it is a shame that it did not do more with the original short story. I believe that this film would have had a lot of potential if it was not burdened with the usual "dollar baby" problems. The only real problem is that Burt and Vicky don’t die. But that is made up for. After all, what do you think that the director is trying to say when a car over heats and a murder of crows is fallowing you into the sun set? For an unofficial film in the series, it does a lot of justice. 4/5

Production Details:
This film’s historic value to the "Children of the Corn" series is miniscule compared to it’s historical significance to the history of film adaptations of Stephen King’s body of literary work. As I mentioned in the film’s review, this film is a "Dollar Baby". The very term "Dollar Baby" is a term coined by Stephen King for the kinds of short films "Disciples of the Crow" are. Basically they are student films which range in quality from very good to bad, from having a terrible look to making good use of 35MM film, and ranging from budgets of only accouple hundred dollars to $60,000.

As Stephen King had put it in the published shooting script for the cinematic masterpiece, "The Shawshank Redemption", ""Around 1977 or so, when I started having some popular success, I saw a way to give back a little of the joy the movies had given me. '77 was the year young filmmakers - college students, for the most part - started writing me about the stories I'd published (first in Night Shift, later in Skeleton Crew), wanting to make short films out of them. Over the objections of my accountant, who saw all sorts of possible legal problems, I established a policy which still holds today. I will grant any student filmmaker the right to make a movie out of any short story I have written [writers note: Children of the Corn is no longer part of this deal due to King loosing all rights to movie adaptations to Dimension Films] (not the novels, that would be ridiculous), so long as the film rights are still mine to assign. I ask them to sign a paper promising that no resulting film will be exhibited commercially without approval, and that they send me a videotape of the finished work. For this one-time right I ask a dollar. I have made the dollar-deal, as I call it, over my accountant's moans and head-clutching protests sixteen or seventeen times as of this writing."

Though there is something defiantly funny going on with the film, "Disciples of the Crow". A problem with the "Dollar Baby" business is that some short films are disguised as short films that Stephen King has approved of, but instead they are illegal film adaptations. Most of my sources claim that "Disciples of the Crow" is an authentic "Dollar Baby". But there is room for reasonable doubt.

The person who had to pay the $1 to King for the film would be John Woodward. No, this is not the John Woodward who plays football and this is not the actor who has made appearance in multiple television programs that have been spawned by Joss Whedon. This guy is relatively unknown, although he pretty much ruled this film. He was the director, screenplay writer, and last but not least played the leader of the children in the parts of the film 1983 (crediting him as Older Billy). However, John Woodward did win an award for another independent film he directed, "Vice" (2000).

Sadly, there is not more information I can bestow upon you. Alas, these student films often have actors who are no names which are hired only once or twice and with this being made (as of this writing) 26 years ago, I doubt I can get more information. However, "Disciples of the Crow" did manage to win a Hugo Award at the Chicago Film Festival and a National Merit Award.

It is interesting to note that the film was only released on VHS, however Germany did release a DVD in which the film had been retitled "The Night of the Crow". However, when released onto VHS in America, it was released with three other short films called, "The Night Shift Collection". While it may seem like they could be three films in which are based on different short stories, only "Disciples of the Crow" is based on a short story from that collection.

On a final note, it is interesting how the makers of the next film we shall discuss, "Stephen King’s Children of the Corn" did not have any knowledge of this film.

Chapter 3: "Stephen King's Children of the Corn"

One day in 1981, little Jobbie was the only kid in church that day. The other children were with Isaac in the corn field. The town of Gatlin, Nebraska was having a problem - their crop was failing due to drought. After church, Jobbie and his father went to Hansen’s Café. Then while Jobbie was sipping his strawberry shake, a bunch of the older teenage boys and a teenage girl started bulling out knives, sickles, and hatchets. That day, every adult in Gatlin, Nebraska was killed that day - for the corn. That is when Jobbie’s sister, Sarah, started drawing pictures.

Fast foreword three years. It is 1984 and a happily engaged couple - Burt and Vicky - are driving to Seattle, Washington for Burt, a fresh faced doctor, will start hammering out 50 patients a day at his new firm. Though while driving, they run over a boy. Vicky has instant nausea, but Burt looks and notices a cut on the boy’s neck. There was someone in the corn - the killer of this little boy. After a nightmare and then some, Burt goes into the corn and find’s the boy’s suitcase filled with belongings.

The next stop the couple make - which is just outside one of Gatlin’s cornfields - is a Gas Station owned by a Mr. Diehl and his trusty dog, Sarge. He tells the couple to skip Gatlin and go to the neighboring town of Hemingford - which is an extra 19 miles. One Burt and Vicky leave, what Diehl said cost him and his dog’s lives.

Out in the corn, Isaac preaches to the children. He preaches that their Lord and Savior - He Who Walks Behind The Rows - has bestowed upon them a new task - a final task. They are to sacrifice the outlanders - a man and a woman - in the same manner they killed "The Blue Man" (Gatlin’s police chief) three years ago. Job and Sarah watch on as the cult continues to praise their God of Corn.

After having a bad experience with road signs, Burt and Vicky decide to hell with it and just go to Gatlin. They check Hansen’s Café, only to find a rat, lots of littered corn stalks, and accouple of kids that try to steal their car. After driving, looking for the kids who tried to commit Grand Theft Auto, the decide to leave the seemingly deserted town of Gatlin, Nebraska and just go on to Hemingford. However, while driving back onto the interstate, Burt notices a door on a house open and close. Taking a risk at breaking in, they stop by the house and look around, only to find accouple of ominous things, including a drawing of a black shape hovering over some corn entitled, "He Who Walks Behind The Rows". After some more exploration, they find a girl - Sarah - drawing. After doing their best to get some information out of her, Burt decides to leave Vicky the car and walk into town.

While Burt is walking into town, he notices that the local school also has two things he have seen before: littered corn stalks and mentions of "He Who Walks Behind the Rows". Little does our male protagonist know that the Children are well aware of their stop in Gatlin. The children decide to kid nap Vicky. While in a police station, Burt starts to have a gut feeling that Vicky is in trouble. He runs back to the home, to find a petrified Sarah and his car ruined with a ton of corn clogged into all of the different places in the front of the car. Burt also finds the key to finding Vicky: Sarah’s newest artistic endeavor: a picture of the Children taking Vicky into the clearing in the corn. Burt decides to walk into the corn. All of a sudden, the corn opens all by itself. Burt walks in. With each passing row, the row closes. Burt’s attention is interrupted from the pursuit of Vicky though, as he hears church bells ring. Though as Burt leaves the corn, an eerie noise rises from the corn.

In the clearing, Vicky is crucified onto a giant corn cross. However, something is amidst. Isaac tells his henchmen, Malachai, that He Who Walks The Rows is displeased - especially with Malachai. Malachai offended He Who Walks Behind The Rows when he killed Joseph not as an offering. But then another thing Isaac says seems weird - that He is displeased with the killing of Diehl because his gas and oil was still used to the children. Malachai argues back that they can get their oil as gasohol from the corn. Then Malachai tells that maybe He is displeased since they have not offered unto him Sarah and Job. But Isaac says something else: that it was Sarah’s gift of sight that warned them of the coming of the outlanders.

When Burt gets to the town church, he sees something rather revolting - a 19 year old with a pentagram carved into his chest, a girl about to drink blood from a corn boll, an altered picture of Jesus, and a heavily edited version of the Bible. The girl calls for Malachai and then continues to stab Burt in the left shoulder. Burt runs while Malachai makes an appearance before Burt. But Burt runs until he meets Job. Him and Job hide from the children in a cellar behind their house, built durring the Cuban missile crisis. And it is then which Job tells Burt all of the events from the last three years. Afterwards, Burt, Job, and Sarah decide to go and try to rescue Vicky and stop the Children of the Corn once and for all. Burt waits to strike durring nighttime - His time. However, little do they know is that Malachai has had another argument with Isaac - one that has Isaac become the one to sacrifice instead of Vicky (she is still gonna be murdered though).

At night, Burt is in the corn, with a giant wrench as a weapon. Soon, an eerie voice comes out of the corn. Amos walks into the corn as He Who Walks Behind The Rows devours him. Isaac starts to freak out since he knows he has also offended He Who Walks Behind The Rows. He Who Walks Behind The Rows gets Isaac and shoots that corn cross into the air. While everyone is in amazement, Burt does battle with Malachai, freeing Vicky. After giving a "Captain Kirk" speech and showing the children that the ways of He Who Walks Behind The Rows are faux, Isaac comes back and kills Malachai.

At the coming of a storm, Burt and Vicky assume that "the monster" is now attacking them. Burt asks Job about the people who originally tried to stop the cult. Job pulls out a page form the Bible - Revelation 20:10. With that, Burt decides to burn the corn field. He hooks up the huge tanks of Gasohol to the crop watering decides and let that spray down the crops while baking a beer bottle bomb out of filling a bottle with Gasohol and part of Job’s sweater vest, which he has to light. However, He Who Walks Behind the Rows tries to stop Burt - from taking the form of burning clouds to a moving mound of Earth to even having the corn itself grab and tie down Burt. But Burt throws the bottle and burs the field. As the field burns, the face of He Who Walks Behind The Rows raises up and roars into the dark, night sky. That is it for our heroes as they start their long walk to Hemingford.

Here it is, the original film of the series. This is the one which left a big mark in pop culture. Children of the Corn. It is not a perfect film by no means at all, but it did start a revolution.

It is interesting which actors they picked. John Franklin is cast as Isaac. He looks creepy and is actually 21, so he knows how to act. In fact, he is the only cast member of any of the Children of the Corn films to appear in more than one film. Courtney Gains plays Malachai, and he would continue to be a cult horror actor, even having an appearance in the director’s cut version of the 2007 remake of the classic, "Halloween". Linda Hamilton is in this film, which was shot simultaneously with "The Terminator", which made her a superstar in that year of 1984 - having two films out in one year. And Peter Horton is in this film, though I only recognize him from the film "T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous" (in which he was a lot more rouged). All of the actors do a good job and keep this film at a great creep level. No fail here!

The screenplay - adapted from the original short story - is something of a mystery. But then again, what do you expect to do when you only got a 30 page short story to make into an hour thirty film? The film fallows well enough the original short story, though what was added was just pure Hollywood talking. And you would think twice about that, since New World Pictures is an independent studio, not a Hollywood one. The story does seem to be complex enough: they add into the mix that Malachai and Isaac have an argument. They added the corn cross part. The most iconic part of the whole "Children of the Corn" image. Something which Stephen King, in my opinion, should have had in the original short story - instead of a giant cross bar. But then we have it that Burt and Vicky are not the bickering couple like in the short story. This is where Hollywood starts taking it toll. While it was the 1980’s, I do not think that it would have been that brash to have them arguing. Although an argument does seem to come up every now and again, so it is not always gay (learn the real definition of that word people).

Something I never got what where people say that Isaac was too power hungry. I can see that in "666: Isaac’s Return", but not in this film. It is more Malachi being too power hungry. The only real reason why he failed and was wanted at the end by "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" the first time was that he lost control over the children after three years. I bet people get it from the scene when Isaac claims that Sarah was the one who warned the children about the coming of the outlanders and not He Who Walks Behind the Rows when the film got to the 35 minute mark. Though the biggest difference between the original short story and it’s film adaptation would be the source of the corn religion. In the film, it seems that religious fundamentalism has lead onto a style of religiosity in which they start fallowing a demon in the corn. But in the story, He Who Walks Behind The Rows IS God.

The direction of this film is simple. It is just simple. There is nothing really complex when it comes to the look of the film or of the message of the film. The only real message or moral that this film has is to be against fallowing blind. But other than that, there is nothing which really makes the audience member think. Nothing left for them to "chew on" once the movie is over. This also goes for the special effects, which were either animated or added in from another source (see the production notes on this film for more information).

The music is something which has become Iconic as hell. Some say it is Omen like. Whatever it is, it is all thanks to Jonathan Elias. While there is not that much variation in the soundtrack, the soundtrack is easily one of the more suspenseful soundtracks in the whole series, deserving to be among the other iconic soundtracks like "The Amityville Horror", "Halloween", "The Exorcist" and "The Omen" (notice that all of the good horror films are from the 1970‘s). And there is especially all of the themes which has Latin chanting. Very suspenseful on a psychological level. Too bad that the original theme which he composed for this film was not used in any of the subsequent films, until the remake in 2009 in which actually had Jonathan Elias come back for the score.

Overall, there is not much to say about this film. It is the original and the best, though the remake and the first sequel really do give this film a nice run for it’s money. At least that for an adaptation which Stephen King did not care for, this film has become a cult classic and a pop culture icon that will be with us for the next century.

Production Notes:
Through all of Anchor Bay’s endeavors to produce "making of" documentaries for this film, it is shocking how much already published information is not listed. So here we go!

One thing which was at one time only considered to be a rumor would be that durring the late 1970’s, Stephen King actually did have a screenplay treatment being shopped around the movie studios at the time. But no studio would except it because at the time, there were simply too many Stephen King-based movies being produced at one time. Interesting to note that unlike many of the other adaptations of his works, this was a script he had written.

But then comes in the early 1980’s Harry Wiland, a 35 year old documentary maker from Main. With his support, Stephen King re-worked his script. This one attempt at a film adaptation was originally to star Lawrence Kerwin - an actor who has been in another Stephen King adaptation: the TV version of "Salem’s Lot" (1979). Mr. Willard did release a statement on the project, saying, "We are on the same wavelength and we both see the potential of this movie. We both see things that need to be fleshed out or polished, and we're doing it." The project also already had it’s shooting locations found: Butler and Lawrence, Kansas. Principle photography was to begin in summer 1981, but it was canceled when Twentieth Century Fox backed out of the project. With this, the project lost most of it’s budget ($2,000,000). With the only cash left for Producer Joe Mansfield and director Harry Wiland was a sole contribution by Home Box Video which was only $750,000.

But this would not be the death of the project. In early 1983, the project came to the doorstep of Hal Roach Studios. It was now which George Goldsmith was hired to revise Stephen King’s treatment of the screenplay. Goldsmith has commented on writing the screenplay, saying: "It's the idea of dogma being an evil thing." Goldsmith was told by Stephen King that, "The story is not calculated to send you out of the theatre with sunshine in your heart." Many aspects were changed in the screenplay, including the ending which King said was to leave the audience with melancholy. When asked about this, Goldsmith replied, "It's ok sometimes if the protagonist dies at the end. But it is not often that the film succeeds commercially."

Interesting bit is that on some copies of the original theatrical poster, Stephen King and George Goldsmith are credited with the authoring of the screenplay. However, after a judgment was passed by the Writers Guild of America, it was decided that George Goldsmith was to be given full credit. King later found out that the screenplay that was presented to him as the "final draft" wasn’t actually a final draft and was drastically different from the finished film.

Soon afterwards, the screenplay made it to Donald P. Borchers - the Senior Vice President who was made producer of the film. It was now that Don Borchers hired Terrance Kirby and Fritz Kiersch. Borchers, Kiersch, and Kirby had a history together. Borchers was actually someone who was hired continuously by Fritz Kiersch and Terrance Kirby’s company in Los Angeles, "The Kirby/Kiersch Film Group", which specialized in television mediums (TV shows and commercials). It was like pay back gift from Borchers to Fritz Kiersch "You know, for all the times you put ice cream in my freezer because I was out of work and you let me and use your offices, I got a bunch of projects. Do you want to make a movie?" (quote by Kiersch). And so Kiersch was brought on to do the film.

After accepting the project, pre-production went into effect the fallowing day. While scouting locations, Kansas was ruled out due to a heat wave from the summer damaged the corn there and Nebraska lacked the certain city which would be ideal for "Gatlin". 6-8 weeks afterwards, principle photography began in Siouxland (Sioux Falls), Iowa. Shooting would be over the course of 27 days from September to October 1983. The budget was $3,000,000, though most of it was paid to Stephen King, so the budget was set more around $800,000. Through shooting, everyone agreed that the worst part about it was the night scenes, filmed over the course of 2-3 nights. They were filmed until morning when it was still dark out and it got really cold. This especially effected Courtney Gains and Peter Horton, who have to fight on cold, hard, soil. And all though provisions were made (like covering Isaac up with a blanket in between takes), they just wanted it to get done.

One phase of shooting which must be applauded would be the shooting with veteran actor R.G. Armstrong who plays Diehl in the film. The character took up 10 pages in the script and got all of the scenes with him done in one day. Incredible! Though what would you expect from someone who works with commercials.

Casting was handled by Linda Francis and Fritz Kiersch. "Children of the Corn" marked the first time that either Linda Hamilton or Peter Horton would get staring roles. Kiersch would say in the documentary, "Harvesting Horror" that they were chosen for their enthusiasm in the project (and Hamilton knew Francis) and that Peter was an actor who "always bought something to the table. The other children were just 30 extras picked up in and around Sioux City. "They had to come off as terrifying... and they did" said director Fritz Kiersch. Such is the tale of John Philbin who plays Amos in the film. This was also John’s first film. Turns out that Amos was the only part he auditioned for and he got it!

Another child actor from the film is Corey Frizzell, who played as one of the children of the corn and a stand-in double for Job (Robby Kiger’s character). Corey believes he got into the film because his mother knew some people involved with production (Frizzell‘s family has been filled with people having success in the country music business). However, something revealing is told in an interview with Corey, "I believe we had the parts without having to do any real auditions. I remember the first time we met the director and some of the other crew, my brother Michael and I were carried over to what was a Howard Johnson’s hotel at the time and were just simply asked if we could make a mean face (some audition). I think they really just wanted to size us up since we would be playing the character Job in one form or another." Both Corey and Mike would be stand ins for Job at one point or other in the film.

Corey also remembers a lot about some of the making of the church scene: "I remember a lot of down time. The filming for the interior of the church scene was located in a church on 5th and George St. in Sioux City and took all day long, about 17 hours of shooting. While the crew was preparing the church for the scene I can remember having to stay in the basement with all the actors including Courtney Gains (Malachai) and try to pass the time. Everyone mostly played cards. I think Courtney was teaching a lot of the kids how to play poker. I was too young and preferred wrestling around. On one occasion Courtney and I were horsing around and he hog tied me and tried to stuff me in a closet. I think the church may have been the place where Robby, my brother and I got in the most trouble with the crew because we were all over the place. We had a lot more room to run around at the farm house in Hornick. It was during this time that I learned how they made fake blood and how someone could be stabbed in a movie and look so real. They showed us that the blood was just white corn syrup and red food coloring and the knife used to stab Peter Horton had a corncob handle in which the blade retracted into when he was struck. I do remember them having to shoot the scene where Peter is stabbed several times because the blood pack under his white shirt kept malfunctioning and exploding. There are so many stories I could tell, you just don’t have enough website for them all… This scene was shot several times and if you watch it you will see that they really pieced it together. One moment the kids are standing, then they're sitting, and then standing again. I was sitting in a front row pew on the side where Peter is attacked and my brother Michael is in the second or third pew. We must have chased Peter out those doors a dozen times after he is stabbed but the one scene they put in the movie is where I was knocked over and trampled by Peter on the way out, then a girl grabbed my hand to help me out and yelled "Come on." So we are the last two out of the church."

But Corey also remembers how it was to be the stand in. "I remember having the little Job outfit on and having to walk with a crouch to this counter and peak over it at Peter… Also I remember the scene at the end where "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" comes to attack, which was just a wrecking ball being pulled under a layer of dirt through a trench. Anyways it wasn’t cooperating the way they wanted. They shot that a few different times. That same night, they were trying to film the explosion in the cornfield and the first time it didn’t go off so well. By the time they were able to prepare a second explosion I had already fell asleep in my moms lap while her and Linda Hamilton were sitting Indian style in the grass talking. I believe my brother Michael had some issues with his stunts and the Molotov cocktail that night, but that’s another interview."

Another interesting character to look into the production history of is Joseph, played by Jonas Seaman Marlowe. "When I was about 12 or 13 I made the decision that I wanted to live with my Dad. It was a pretty hard thing to do. I felt bad for my Mom, who really only wanted what was best for me. That summer I moved to Los Angeles. My step mom Bobbi, who is a photographer, took some pictures of me in a photography studio she built in the garage. She also built a darkroom in one of the closets. She submitted the pictures to a couple of agents. Estelle Hertzberg from 20th Century Artists' Agency called me in for an interview. She liked what she saw, and within a week I was out on my first audition. It was that summer that I was called in to audition for Children Of The Corn". Joseph was the only role that I was being considered for. I remember I used a yellow highlighter to highlight all my lines in the sides that they gave me. It was the scene in the barn before I run off and get killed by Malachai. There weren't a lot of lines to memorize, but I was only 13, so it seemed like a lot at the time. I then rehearsed the scene with Bobbi a couple times. About a week later, the phone rang, and I'd got the part."

However, it was interesting on his memories on his famous death scene. "I remember it pretty well, and no, it wasn't difficult to film. I was having the time of my life. They'd yell 'Action!'...and I'd start thinking that someone was after me. Really believing it, getting psyched up, and then I'd book it through the cornfield all scared to death until they yelled 'Cut!' It was a blast. And yes, I was paper cut plenty all over the place. That corn is razor sharp. But I was really into it, so I really didn't care." But then when it came to a certain close up when Burt is about to run over Joseph: "If you mean the POV shot from the car as it's approaching me, yes, that's me. I'm standing in the street and the car is coming towards me while I'm holding my throat. They actually put the camera in the car and had a stunt driver speed towards me and then put on the brakes, stopping the car before hitting me. It was fun. Especially, trying not to flinch as the car was coming towards me. Of course, the shot of me actually being run over is a dummy." But there was special detail paid to the gore effects on Jonas. "The make up artist, who was this wonderful lady that I had a mad crush on, put a pigs wind pipe sticking out of my neck. I thought it was awesome. You'll notice in the close up of me dead in the road, I really am attracting flies."

John Franklin would be the man cast as Isaac. Franklin has an interesting casting history, mostly due to his medical condition dealing with growth hormone deficiency. Franklin is no stranger to playing child parts that are evil, having done the play, "The Innocence", which deals with a possessed child. Though other than his age/look difference, he was also chosen because he looked creepy with the hair cut he had - all thanks to a commercial for Star Trek Atari. Within the first six weeks he was in LA, he got an agent instantly (he was noticeable because of his look), and that is how he got into the audition. It was by Kirby and Kiersch that he got the news that he got the part.

While practicing for the role, John studied boy preachers and even looked at actual preachers to see their flamboyant ways and how they captured their congregation’s attention. Mr. Franklin’s attention to detail also fallowed through with his performance. While he described himself as a "green kid" on the set due to his inexperience with film, he was known to nail lines down - earning him the pseudonym "one take kid".

Courtney Gains plays the blood drunk right hand man Malachai. Just out of high school, Courtney was cast for his intense delivery durring the casting stage of things. Her was picked up by Linda Francis since she knew Courtney’s work. While wearing a black kimono-esque article of clothing, he would sit cross legged in the room "in a vibe" (Kiersch quote again). While reading from the screenplay with assistant Jeff Greenburg, Courtney pulled out a faux prop knife and pulled it against Jeff’s throat. Due to the intensity of that performance and how effected Jeff was afterwards, Courtney got the part.

Courtney Gains described himself as a method actor, that he would get himself in the mood when he walked through the corn saying to himself, "This is MY cornfield" repeatedly. Part of what makes Malachai spooky is the stare he gives off and his extended jaw line throughout the film.

While commenting on direction, Fritz Kiersch has made it known that he wanted to bring out the visual elements of the film. He tried to use the Hitchcock effect with this film: show the blade, show the wound, but never show the penetration of the blade into the flesh. This is most noticeable in the coffee shop massacre scene. He also wanted to make the mood of isolation - made famous the previous year with "John Carpenter’s The Thing" - prevalent in this film with the corn. And not to mention many money shots with the bladed weapons. Fritz though split the town of Gatlin into four distinct sections, each with a different quality which made it spooky. And he never did more than three takes of a scene. In fact, one scene which got messed up but kept because of the look was the opening of the barn door scene. Cinematographer Juan Fernandez was ill the day that scene was shot, so the lighting was off, but it worked well. An almost dark scene and then a colored but creepy look at the corn.

When it came down to the special effects, even Kiersch claimed that he had some disdain against them. ""The effects at the ending really do suck. We has a lot of problems there mainly because we had to shoot all those scenes first, before the corn changed from green to gold." Most of the special effects were more conventional than anything - making good use of animation at the time. This was used especially when animation was used to enhance a matted in shot of some test footage of some ink which a friend of Kiersch had which Fritz thought was cool. But one thing which was not practical was the giant explosion at the end, which became a one time gathering for everyone in Sioux Falls (about 500 people) to see something epic in their little town other than a tornado.

Something more practical is what was used for the other two incarnations of "He Who Walks Behind The Rows". For the famous moving mount of Earth form, a ditch was built in the earth so that a wheel barrow - covered with canvas that is covered in soil - could be pulled by an off screen tractor with some aircraft wire. All for around $100. Then for the part where the corn got squashed, put forks were attached to the front of a tractor and for $50, another incarnation of He Who Walks Behind the Rows - though nothing like what the short story claimed. Though for when Isaac was to come back from the dead to kill Malachai, a last minute decision was made to attach pork sausage to John Franklin’s head. For the scene in which the corn was to be grabbing at our protagonist, it was filmed backwards with the corn actually unraveling from Peter Horton’s character. Basic SFX techniques.

A big problem with the film though was the corn. Craig Sterns - production designer - had to the job of making corn stalks something of a constant everywhere you would go in Gatlin. Though the look of the old buildings would be already accomplished due to the buildings already being vacant. The corn - due to the timing of the shooting - was also dieing. When producer Terrance Kirby got wind of this from Craig, Terrance said, "Then spray it green", which is what happened.

Doing the score is another newbie: Jonathan Elias. Starting off as an orchestrate doing movie trailer music, his hiring was ultimately a decision made by Producer Borchers and Director Kiersch after getting a top from John Barry - friend and teacher to Elias. The only musical direction which Fritz Kiersch gave was mainly surrounding the action/dramatic moments in the film. Other than that, it was just either composing music by a scenes mood or by just the look of the scene. "Usually I would rely on one of my themes and then impose it into the scene using cue points that Fritz or Donald gave me." But one thing which was classic Elias is the main theme for the film, which is also Elias‘s favorite piece he composed for the film. The score and that specific theme was composed using an orchestra of 40 players and 6 choral children. "I am very fluent with vocals and like to work with them. It's also a very chilling effect using children singing with the title." Later on from the same interview which I got the above quite from, Elias said, "The vocalization chants were just syllables that I took from a Latin dictionary, they don't mean anything but it's something we all learn from Carl Orff and the classical piece Carmina Burana. Yes, they were used in high suspense moments because that was another character, the chants. They were adult singers, 6 of them again. "

But the easiest aspect of the whole production was the response which the cast and crew got from the citizens of Sioux Falls. "People in that part of the country were terrific. They embraced the whole opportunity. We said, ‘Could we stop traffic?’ ‘Can we board up the buildings?’ ‘Could we ask all of the citizens to stay indoors?’ ‘Of course, no problem! And we’ll make a cake for you, and afterward could you come to BBQ, and then we have casino night, would you like to come to casino night?" Certainly a lot more positive than what people on future y a production would get in terms of response - especially the next film "The Final Sacrifice".

The deleted scenes of "Children of the Corn" are something of a myth. According to IMDB, 1.)"A longer prologue where several other adults are killed, most notably a deputy whose throat is slashed and then stabbed in the chest, and a farmer who is hacked to death outside his barn by a group of pick-axe wielding kids." 2.) A scene between Sarah and Job's parents before the slaughter. They talk over the breakfast table about Sarah's drawings of the upcoming massacre and how they think something awful is about to happen. 3.) A scene where Isaac prays to He Who Walks Behind The Rows only to receive a horrific vision of his impending fate. There only some of the scenes which may have been cut since it took 10 weeks to edit the film totally.

On the topic of the original’s deleted scenes, I got a pretty good feeling that it is all garbage. The only real alternate cut of the original "Children of the Corn" I know of is the 88 minute cut that was released by Cinema Club in the UK before Anchor Bay got the rights. I used to think that the deleted scenes were in these edited cuts (who knew? It could have been another case like "Godzilla, King of the Monsters!", cut footage but add also). But I was wrong. And actually, it is quite a sad tale really. The first three "Children of the Corn" films all suffered from extensive editing, mostly just the bloody parts. In most cases, the running time for these European "edited" cuts was something between 85-88 minutes. Here is a list of scenes which were missing, albeit not a full list:

37 seconds is cut from the Coffee Shop massacre, mostly the bloody parts
3 seconds is cut of when Burt runs over Joseph
A minute 5 seconds is cut afterwards of the conversation from "Is he…?" to (insert last line before Burt goes into corn)
19 seconds in cut when we see Amos cut into his chest
9 seconds is cut when Malachai cuts into Vicky’s left cheek
14 seconds is cut when the glowing force of He Who Walks Behind The Rows covers Isaac and hurls the corn cross into the air
28 seconds is taken out of the scene at night where Malachai and Burt duel
12 seconds is cut when Isaac breaks Malachai’s neck

I have only seen proof of three deleted scenes - that being the killing of a cop (not THE blue man, but another cop). The other two includes scenes found in the theatrical trailer, including a shot of the two corn crosses at dusk and us getting accouple more frames of Joseph’s death before we switch to the shot of blood splattering onto Joseph’s suitcase. The extended version of Joseph’s death and the corn cross scenes could be spliced back in save the need to tack on a little extra music, but it would not be that hard to do nor that time consuming. As for the scene with the death of the Blue Man…

There have been two main pictures from the Blue Man death scene that have been published: on the back for the LP for the soundtrack and a German lobby card. However, one source claims that the deleted scenes are somewhere in the UK, more specifically in the TV version. This is something interesting, seeing that people in Europe always get the top line products first (except for the blu-ray release of the original).

If someone wants to try to be the next Mark Kermode (who horror fans know for trying to look for the deleted scenes from the critically acclaimed, "Exorcist 3: Legion") , then your best guesses when looking through film archives is look at the television film archives of Warner Brothers Television or Lakeshore Entertainment. For theatrical film archives, then look through Anchor Bay’s bunch. In Europe, Anchor Bay is the current copyright holders of the film, so it can be safe to assume that the aforementioned company’s UK branches would also have the film’s deleted scenes. I really hope that someone tries to look through the film archives and find these lost scenes to a classic film. Maybe there is more.

All in all, everyone involved with the film - except maybe Donald Borchers - was happy with the turn out. "We did very well for the amount of money this film cost as it does come across as a more expensive production knowing the size and scope of it. It works well on certain levels." "Children of the Corn is extraordinarily successful" Donald P. Borchers said, "but I do not think it is true to King's original."

Chapter 4: "Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice"

Taking place shortly after the original film, the law enforcement in the neighboring town to Gatlin - Hemingford - try to figure out what exactly has happened other than the advice that Burt and Vicky (mentioned incorrectly as a couple passing by for vacation) gave them. To get a scoop on the matter is struggling journalist John Garrett with his argumentative son, Danny. However, all seems to go crazy again when John’s rivals at journalism get killed by the corn itself - He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

The townsfolk of Hemingford decide to take in and adopt the children from Gatlin, even though they have been warned by ex-Gatlin elementary teacher Mrs. Burke about the events that happened in Gatlin back in 1981. John Garret finds a woman who rents out her house to travelers. The woman adopts one of the children - Micha. His reason for what happened? "I saw the corn."

Later that night, all of the children meet in a clearing in the nearest cornfield to decide what are they to do with what has happened to them for the past three years, keep their corn religion or start life anew in forever want for redemption? Little do they know that while walking into the corn, Micha has become possessed by He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Under Micha’s banner, the children are persuaded to fallow their ways of old and start up again their murderous antics.

Nothing seems to stop these children. In one twenty four hour period, they kill Mrs. Burke, a church going man, and the town doctor. John decides to go out and look at what Gatlin has to offer. He stops by a deserted elementary school. He finds the place littered with corn stalks, spray painted works calling adults defilers of the corn, and drawing of the killings. It is here that John - through a scare - meets Anthropologist Dr. Frank Read Bear. Read Bear, when asked about it, he said that what happened was "Koyaanisqatsi", an ancient Native American belief that we need to be one with the Earth, but that modern civilization does not fallow this and does not treat the Earth properly - leading to the end of the world. When asked why the children, Red Bear goes to say an Amish saying, "We do not inherit the land from our parents, we only borrow it from our children."

Meanwhile, Danny is taking up a love interest in one of the orphaned late teenage girls - Lacy Hellerstat. She takes Danny through a tour of Hemingford. A corn field and a waterfall is all included. But interesting enough, then they are about to have intercourse in a cornfield, they find where most of the bodies of the adults were placed in Gatlin - in the corn. Meanwhile, Danny is also attracted to the evil in the town. Durring a night which the children of the corn are inducting a new member into the cult, they also induct Danny into the cult, using his disdain with his father as leverage.

Upon call, John meets back up with Red Bear. Turns out that my a creek, there is a spiritual boulder with Native American paintings on it. The paintings symbolize that the children killed all the adults because they became lazy and abused the land. There is at the top of the rock a painting of a cornfield in front of the sun. The cornfield has no pathway in it, meaning that man has not found a way to be one with the Earth. Later on, they go by a corn silo and they find molding corn where the new harvested corn should be. The duo conclude that the harvest from last year is being brought in along with this year’s harvest as to bring in more profit. The sheriff drives up and cocks his gun. Red Bear claims that there is something wrong, and the Sherriff says there is. The sheriff ties up John and Frank up and starts up an automated corn harvesting machine, "it will be part of the folklore of the valley".

That night, the rest of the town has a meeting. The subject is about the adoption of the children of Gatlin. One woman mentions that half of the town is actually missing. Soon afterwards, the children come and chain the doors to the building. Afterwards, the burn down the building, killing the rest of the adults in Hemingford.

Later that night, Micha gives Danny his first task: the first two new sacrifices of the union between Hemingford and Gatlin. The people being sacrificed: love interest Lacey and the woman who was adopting Micha. While chanting "We Are One" and Danny having to make an impossible decision - fallow God or save Lacey - a light comes from the corn. Turns out that it is the corn silo machine. Red Bear and John survived. After some killing and chasing, a dieing Red Bear (I am not going to say how he dies) starts the corn silo and kills Micha - with He Who Walks Behind the Rows escaping his body just in the nick of time.

The fallowing morning, John, Danny, Lacy, and the woman drive off in the sunset after giving Red Bear a true Native American cremation. In spirit form, Red Bear goes on and paints an opening in the corn on the giant boulder, with the defeat of the children somehow constituting that man has made peace with the Earth.

"I think we have a much tighter story this time. I think there is a lot more explanation to it. I think there’s a lot more suspense to it." - David Price

"Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice" is the second film in the series. That automatically calls that this film is going to be better than the ones after this since the material is still fresh. And the film has become my second favorite in the franchise.

First, the continuity factors with this film and the original are good enough. There are mentions with Isaac and tons of mentioning’s of the Gatlin massacre. Though this can also be a negative, since all stock footage taken from the first film are used out of context, meaning that they are used just because they were too lazy to make their owns scenes with He Who Walks Behind the Rows and just because they do not want to replay their own explosion scene, play the one from the last film. Honestly effortless.

The acting for the film is pretty good. We got award winner and actor who does his own stunts Terence Knox (who was hired on by producer Scott Stone) playing John Garret and character actor Ned Romero playing Red Bear. May it be noted that one of Ned Romero’s bit parts was as in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. We even have Christie Clark playing Lacey Hellerstat. Miss Clark is best known for her 53 episode appearance in the well known soap opera "Days of Our Lives". We got a nice cast and it helps move the film along. Though no one can be given more credit than Ryan Bollman, who plays Micha. He is without a doubt the best actors to portray one of the boy preachers in the series. Maybe it is because he is in his early teens. He is not too old (16-19) but yet not too young (9-11), so he knows how to act the part. This is defiantly a plus and it is sad that his career has not blossomed as much as one would hope for.

The script was written by A. L. Katz, Gilbert Adler, and the unaccredited Bill Froehlich. The script for the film is good, but faulty. We get Isaac’s last name (Chroner), though if they wanted to stay true to the Stephen King material, wouldn’t it be "Renfrew"? Another offence would be calling Burt and Vicky a couple passing by for vacation. There’s another sin. But one of the biggest sins would be the use of the word, "Koyaanisqatsi". That isn’t even a real word. It is the name of an art film! And the meaning of the word, given by Frank Red Bear, is the tagline from the poster for the film. This is lazy. And the ending doesn’t make much sense either. Apparently, just the defeat of the Children of the Corn is justifiable enough to show that John Garret and company have learned to not to abuse the Earth. John and company learning that value is not acknowledged in the film at all, so this doesn’t make sense.

Though there is some credit which this screenplay should be awarded with. Apparently, I like the way which they approached the boy preacher character (in this case, Micha) in this film. He Who Walks Behind The Rows has to possess him. Looks like as if He Who Walks Behind The Rows believes in the old saying, "if you want something done right, do it yourself" (Except that in this film, it doesn’t go that way - or at least not in the original screenplay). Another thing to credit the screenplay with is the thickening of the Children of the Corn’s rituals. We now see how you become a member of the corn. Your palm is cut with a current member’s and put the injured palms together and let the blood fall into the Earth where corn is present. Pretty good. Plus we got some creative killings with this film. Much is good when it comes to seeing a lady in a wheel chair getting hit with a semi and crashing through a window when some poor dude is about to yell "bingo".

When it comes to any underlying theme with the film, it is somewhat like finding a needle in a haystack. The "abuse of faith" theme which the original had was forsaken in this film. Producer Scott Stone told a news station one time though that the film does have a message. "It is a very almost metaphysical story about how we have to take care of ourselves and take care of our land and take care of our families in order to survive the things that are happening in the world today."

The special effects with the film are pretty good, especially compared to the original film’s special effects. We see the face of He Who Walks Behind The Rows, though it is not exactly the green, bulking mass with red eyes the size of footballs but rather a regular demon face. The possession scene is also pretty good with the computer graphics. And the more practical effects are also good, especial the burning down of the Hemingford Town Hall. There are accouple of more scenes needing praise, but I am not going to ruin them all right here. But I will say that while the special effects are well done, they are not worthy of the praise which Bob Healy of "Satellite News Network" said, "Terrifying! Filled with mind-bending special effects not seen since Terminator 2!"

The last thing to comment on is the score by David Litch. Though it is sad that Jonathan Elias’s score for the original film is not used again for this installment, David Litch does bring back memories through his work copying the Latin or Latin-esque chanting that was prominent in Elias’s original composition. In most ways, it works. And the composition at the beginning of the film, a song set to the tune of "London Bridge Is Falling Down" is especially creepy and effective. And it is nice that there is more variation in Litch’s score than Elias’s, since we finally get a light hearted piece for some of the scenes which Danny and Lacey are together, and even some moody tunes for when Angela and John get busy.

"Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice" is a film dangerously close, in my opinion, of breaking the old saying that the original film in a franchise is always the best. The only thing missing is a more built up ending. I mean, one sacrifice on a corn bed is good, but the other needed to be on a corn cross. All in all, I recommend this film to COTC fans.

Production Notes:
It took a full nine years just to make a sequel to the original "Children of the Corn". It is known that New World Pictures was finally put into bankruptcy not until 1997, so it is safe to assume that Stephen King had the rights to film adaptations and sequels, sold them to New World, who after the original film sold the rights to Trans Atlantic Entertainment. Their plan for 1993 was to make sequels with the two main horror franchises which they owned at the time: "Children of the Corn" and "Hellraiser". And at the end of spring 1992, Paramount and the Weinstein Company were brought on board to make "Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice", or as it was known in the beginning stages and on early drafts of the screenplay and even principle photography as , "Children of the Corn II: Deadly Harvest". It should be known that the "Deadly Harvest" subtitle for the film was not used for the final product, was used in the international trailer for the film and was even used for the German title for the film, "Tödliche Ernte - Kinder Des Zorns II" ("Deadly Harvest: Children of the Corn II").

Shooting for the film would begin in the summer of the same year - August - 1992, in Liberty, North Carolina. Shooting lasted for four weeks. This includes the burning of Hemingford’s town hall, which was filmed in a home at the corner of Asheboro St. and Luther Ave. to be more specific. Currently, an empty lot is all to be found at the site. However, the scene depicting Ms. Burke’s sister being killed was instead filmed in Ramseur, North Carolina. To save cash, most of the children were locals with the exception of Ryan Bollman and Xeno Yuzna, who is the son of Brian Yuzna, who had a background directing horror films. The headquarters for filming was set up in a local parsonage at the corner of Fayetteville and Raleigh Sts. in Liberty. This location was chosen by executive producer Lawrence Mortoff, who was also chosen to make this film at the lowest cost he can. The reason why North Carolina was chosen was because it was a "right to work" state. "It’s a gorgeous setting… we got gorgeous sets, we got a gorgeous backdrop North Carolina - specifically Liberty, Ramseur - and the surrounding area" says director David Price. He would go on to say that the film crew was, "very close to gypsies."

However, not everything was smooth sailing with production. The Christian community of Liberty had accouple of low-key protest rallies at their local church. It even went so far as someone putting a dead rodent on the door step of director David Price’s doorstep. So, even though it would have eaten up the film’s $900,000, the production crew built it’s own church for the scene in which Micha, through a little voodoo, gives someone a massive hemorrhage bleeding through all the openings in his head - something which British SFX make-up coordinator Bob Keen and his team at Image Animation though was one of the first times that a death that gruesome has been on the screen. "They got cornstalks all across the street." Complained one of the locals. "I think the townspeople are getting tired of it. They can't drive where they want. Merchants say they're loosing business."

However, there was one deleted scene which was not filmed due to budgetary restraints. Originally, after all that has happened to John, he goes up to a phone booth to call his editor-in-chief about the amazing feats he has been put through. However, while the phone would be ringing, He Who Walks Behind The Rows (in moving mound form) would pull the phone booth under ground, killing John. To replace it was the tacked on ending of Frank Red Bear - in spirit form - painting an opening in the corn on the boulder by the creek. It really does clear up a lot of the confusion which the final film leaves.

The score for the film was developed by blossoming composer Daniel Litch. Litch, who would go on to also score "Children of the Corn 3: Urban Harvest", differentiated from Johnathan Elias’ score for the first film substantialy. While there is no difference to the beginner’s ear, the score for "Children of the Corn 2: The Final Sacrifice" is inspired heavily by Indonesian music. Litch, in an interview promoting his rise to score the popular Shotime television series "Dexter" said, "I actually studied gamelan music for years. My parents had actually moved to Jakarta when I was already in my 20s. My stepfather was an aid to the Minister of Technology who ended up becoming the President of Indonesia. So they spent seven years in Jakarta and I would visit them where I could study in Bali, because I became really fascinated with the music. It is so rich texturally, very complex classical music. It had improvisational elements as well, just like jazz. It had a kind of metered ostinato, its forms worked actually quite well in the films. Some of the chanting in "Children of Corn II: The Final Sacrifice" were actually in Indonesian. I wanted to use a choir, but I felt the whole Latin chanting has been overused. Once you have chanting in Latin, everybody immediately thinks of "The Omen". I wanted to create a different feel by these Indonesian vocals, than I ended up singing part of it, because studio singers didn't really know how to produce these sounds." Not everything was good for Litch though. Originally, the theme used for the beginning credits was an elongated version of the romance theme of the film - which would also play over the end credits. However, it was replaced with what Daniel called, "typical slasher sounding music". Licht would go on to claim, " I thought it was a bit of a tragedy. Than years later I head Bob Weinstein who said "You know, that was kind of a waste." The theme wasn’t exchanged in the European cut though.

Originally supposed to be out Halloween 1992, the film would be released theatrically in America January 29, 1993 with a total box office turnout of $7,000,000 (though IMDB claims that it was over $10,000,000). Like I have said, this was a joint production between Paramount and Dimension. So Dimension handled the theatrical distribution while Paramount got the domestic home video rights. In October 1993, the VHS released shipped over 80,000 units with most of it being sold - adding $4,000,000 to the overall profit of the film (this information is originating from IMDB, so make of it as you will). The VHS’s second pressing would come out in 1995. As of date, due to copyright confusion since the Weinstein Company broke up with Disney, no official DVD release of "Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice" has been released. Two waves of bootlegs have been released though.

When it came to overseas distribution, future "Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest" company participant Trans Atlantic Entertainment got to handle home video rights. Unfortunately, just like the original film, "Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice" was not lucky enough to be released in it’s original uncut 92 variation of the film. According to IMDB, "The American version has additional effects and different music than the European and Canadian releases." Most variations of "Children of the Corn II" in European countries have a running time ranging from 83-89 minutes. The scenes usually cut from these European prints of the film are:

15 seconds are cut from the finding of the bodies in the basement scene
12 Seconds cut for the bloody parts of Bobby and Wayde’s death caused by He Who Walks Behind The Rows
3 seconds cut out of Danny and John’s argument after supper
30 seconds cut from the initial meet in the cornfield - from "What was that Mordechi" to "Isaac’s dead."
20 seconds are cut from Mrs. Burke’s death scene (mostly the impact)
56 seconds taken out of the gory parts of David Simpson’s church death
16 seconds cut when Ms. Burke’s sister says, "It’s Ruby" and also cut was a shot of the two men digging out Mrs. Burke’s corpse
46 seconds taken out of the end of Dr. Appleby’s death
8 seconds taken out of the palm cutting scene
11 seconds worth of "We are One" chanting taken out
24 seconds taken out of Lacey freaking out due to the dead bodies in the cornfield
45 seconds are taken out of Mrs. Burke’s sister’s death
52 seconds are taken out durring the burning down of town hall
3 seconds taken out on the close up of where Red Bear gets injured (I am still not saying too much)
11 seconds cut when Mordechi has a spear thrown through him
6 seconds cut when Micha is going all out and discharging electricity from his body
31 seconds deleted from Micha’s death scene

The film, at least in the UK, would get a decent release when Anchor Bay’s UK division would end up buying the rights to the first three films from Cinema Club and release all 3 films separately and in a box set. All of them in their US theatrical cuts and special features produced for the first two films, including an audio commentary for this film.

In the critical league, "Children of the Corn II" had modest success. The film got such raving as "…better acted and directed than the original" by Variety. LA Times said "Director Price doesn’t flinch." "Price has the right stuff" claims Playboy. At the Portugal SciFi Film Festival, "Children of the Corn II" was nominated for best Horror film and Best Director. The film was nominated again for Best Film at the Fantasporto Film Awards in 1993. Sadly, to my knowledge, no wins.

Chapter 5: "Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest"

In Gatlin, a geneticist named Earl has been working on a new genetic strain to help corn grow more efficiently. One night, when the suitcase holding the corn cobs containing the seeds of this genetic strain goes missing, Earl under the influence of alcohol blames his biological son, Joshua, of stealing the suitcase and ventures into the corn at night with a scythe. In the corn, Joseph is running around looking for his younger - adopted - brother, Eli. Eli gets Joseph to run away while their father comes. Turns out that Eli had the suitcase all along and along with hiding Eli’s copy of the Corn Bible, lets the corn crucify his father.

Soon afterwards, a social worker gets a Chicago stock broker who sells perishables (specifically corn) and his wife to take in Joshua and Eli. While getting accustomed to the new urban lifestyle, Joshua tries to fit in while Eli holds on to the ways of the corn and discourages most of the new customs. One of the more outrageous happenings on the first day is Eli saying grace. After having to remind his new parents to say grace before supper, he prays a rather disturbing prayer - one that involves He Who Walks Behind The Rows. The new adoptive parents do not think anything of it.

At school, Eli is still causing ripples. He quickly makes enemies with the African American population of the school and makes mortal enemies with the school’s head priest and principal - Father Nolan. While processing the school’s population to fallow He Who Walks Behind The Rows, Eli gives the good Father nightmares of the 1984 and 1992 massacres along with Eli killing his own parents durring a Harvest Moon. Joshua - along with his friend Malcolm - find out about Eli. Eli is much more than just another boy preacher here to spread the word of He Who Walks Behind The Rows - Eli is an immortal being. He has been around since the early 1960’s, being behind the scenes of all of Gatlin’s massacres. So while Eli and his followers start killing people - including a priest and a social worker - Malcolm and Joshua drive to Gatlin, Nebraska to find Eli’s Corn Bible.

In the pursuit of the searching of Eli’s Corn Bible, the crucified corpse of Earl turns into a demonic scarecrow. Eli defeats the humanoid monster with ease, but Malcolm - while getting the Corn Bible, is subject for the corn itself attaches itself to Malcolm’s body and kills him by ripping out his spine. Eli gets the Corn Bible and heads back to Chicago, where he achieves in stabbing with a sickle both the Corn Bible and Eli. Though little do our protagonists know that Eli is in fact a giant monster, who is ultimately defeated when Joshua has to cut Malcolm’s sister Maria out of the beast, basically cutting all the way through the part of "Kaiju Eli’s" body which connects him to the corn. The body of the massive beast liquidates and then turns into a gas while all of the people hurt in the killing of Eli come back to life.

Little do they know however, Eli’s adoptive father from Chicago found out about the corn and had already sold it for international profit (though he gets killed before the climax). But with the spreading of the new batch of corn, the terror can and will at any time lash out with it’s terrible reign of terror anywhere else in the world for the greater glory of He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

The last of the "trilogy" section of the films (I say this since in some European countries - including Brittan and Germany - the companies that buy the home vide rights to the original "Children of the Corn" also bought the rights to "The Final Sacrifice" and "Urban Harvest") is a quagmire and really is a mix of good and bad - though the bad may for the general movie going audience out weigh the good. So, what is up with this film?

The good needs to be stated. First, the stereotypical use of stock footage. Except that unlike "The Final Sacrifice", "Urban Harvest" actually used the footage for more than just footage of He Who Walks Behind the Rows as a mole him and a replay of the explosion from the original to be cooped with the explosion from the second. No, with "Urban Harvest", stock footage from the previous two films are put into here - altered a little bit to help the plot device that behind Isaac and Micha, Eli was always there.

Second, the corn and the religious habits of the corn cult itself are more defined with this film. Unlike the second film, the corn is shown to be alive in this film. The corn itself kills Earl, Eli’s adoptive father, a homeless person, and last but not least attempted to kill Mrs. Porter. And then we see the corn cult get into more ritualistic happenings - such as how Eli kills the social worker. We see a black candle being used in a black steel holder. Very nice.

Now we come to the mediocre. Coming back as the first person to work on two "Children of the Corn" films, Daniel Litch comes back as composer. Some of the new material he writes for the film is pretty good. For example, the beginning theme song is pretty eerie. And a lot of music from the second film is brought back. Though then some of the more original material ruins it all. Mostly because it just sounds weird and some pieces sound like as if they were done with an church organ. It brings up images of cheesiness.

One more subject of mediocre origin is the acting. Eli gives a good performance when he is not talking in unison with a bad demonic force and his voice gets too high. Also we a good performance get Oscar-nominated Jim Metzler who plays the second adoptive father of Eli. Obviously he does give off a good impression of a father figure and a hungry stock broker. The last performance that must be hailed is the Award Winning Michael Ensign doing the part of Father Nolan. Certainly one of the best supporting roles we are going to get till Stacy Keach stared in "Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return". It should also be mentioned that this film marked the first film Carmen Diaz played in - though only as an extra who is playing one of the children of the corn. Also as an extra is Nicholas Brendon, the Saturn Award Nominee.

Now, onto the bad. The biggest problem with this film is the ever-so noticeable racist overtones - especially the portrayal of African Americans. All we got are people who cuss continuously and insult one another. This is the biggest issue of the film and leaves a rather gargantuan but bad blemish on the film series.

Something else that should be crucified is the special effects by "Screaming Mad George". Most of it is pretty cheesy stuff - especially the ending. The giant monster is executed poorly (special effects via miniatures should be kept to the Japanese - they are the only ones who can truly pull it off and make the advent of CGI look like crap). Plus it actually pretty confusing, since is Eli "He Who Walks Behind The Rows", since that is how we see the stock footage of the moving mole film from the original being used as. It is just dreadful. Certainly one of the worse endings.

Though "Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest" marks a milestone with the rights switch for the Children of the Corn film series and Dimension‘s work with the horror genre of films in the 1990‘s. Obviously, unlike "The Final Sacrifice", this film was the first film to be totally made by Miramax/Dimension. And it is obvious that this is a Dimension horror film, especially considering the re-use of stock special effects sounds which would carry onto "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers".

On a side note, Stephen King did let out his opinion on this film - saying, ""Mitch [Garris] and I were talking about this the other night. He asked if I've ever seen Larry Cohen's Return to Salem's Lot, and I told him that I've missed two of the Children of the Corn movies - and I like the genre, you know. There was one of those Children of the Corn movies, Urban Harvest, that I actually liked."

Production Notes
Production on "Urban Harvest" is not really known, though the first draft of the screenplay - turned in to Miramax and Dimension on September 27, 1993 (about eight months after the second film was released into theatres) was written by Matt Greenburg (who would actually become Horror film genre royalty after also working on "The Crow: Salvation", "Halloween: H20", "The Prophecy 2", and another Stephen King related property - "1408"). Though for reasons unknown, he was not given credit for his work on this film’s screenplay. Another screenplay was turned in by Dobe B. Levenson, which was re-written by James Hickox. It is interesting to point out that co-producer for this film Gary DePew actually turned down a change the production assistant job on the original, "Children of the Corn".

Four months later, the film would begin principle photography in December, 1994 in Los Angeles, California (though isn‘t the film supposed to take place in Chicago?). Two weeks prior to shooting however, James Hickox was hit by a car. Because of this, he was on crutches for most of principle photography. But according to the excellent book, "Creepshow: The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Guide", this did not stop James’ excitement for this film. "It’s a movie that stands completely on it’s own, though it is a continuation of a previous story, only now set in the big city." Helping James Hickox was brother Anthony Hickox, who worked as executive producer and unaccredited second unit director. When commenting on the fact that him and his brother worked together on this film, "I thought our styles would be more similar, but we’re pretty much different." Filming ended the fallowing month.

Against regular speculation, this film did indeed get a theatrical release in North America - if only in the United States. The film got minimal promotion - just posters and a giant inflatable ear of corn that claimed that this film was going to be "coming soon". The film would open up in theatres in September 12, 1995. The exact box office draw is not known at this time, but it was so low that the film series would for ever be strait to video.

On the matter of the film’s SFX, James Hickox said, "There’s some blood in the film, but the effects are more part of the plot." But Eli’s kaiju form was completely something from the mind of SFX director, "Screaming Mad George". "I wanted to put every disgusting element into the monster that I could." Though the beast was not that scary. It’s resemblance to a peanut garnered the monster to be named "Jiffy the Corn Beast". Additional makeup effects were created and designed by Kevin Yagher.

Against what is normally told to the fans, film actually did garner a limited theatrical release after being shown at the American Film Market. A poster and a cheap but large inflatable corn cob claiming that this film was "coming soon" was produced. A wide spread theatrical release was thought to be possible durring September 1994. But the film was instead released straight to video on Sep. 12, 1995 with a second printing of the VHS coming out July 2, 1996. Something interesting about the home video release is that with the critical acclaim points on the back of the VHS tape, Freddy Krueger’s name is spelt "Freddie" on the back of the VHS box while "Freddy" is spelt correctly on the DVD.

Chapter 8: "Children of the Corn 666: Isaac's Return"

Hannah Martin is a girl with a troubled past. She has never known her mother, but she plans to find out. That is why she is driving to a place which many people don’t like to even drive through: Gatlin, Nebraska. When driving, she sees a man asking for her help. His name is Zachariah Johnson. While driving, Zachariah tells Hannah about her name’s Biblical meaning and history, how that the Hannah, in the Bible, asked God for a son and that once she had one, she gave him to the Lord for all the days of his life. Hannah claims that she doesn’t see any children in her future, but Zachariah protests, saying that it isn’t her choice. But before she can argue back, Zachariah disappears. All of a sudden, Hannah has a vision of a preacher’s silhouette in the corn and slammed on the breaks, driving over some corn.

Checking out what was happening was Officer Cora. Hannah blamed the incident on a Cheshire cat. When Cora takes her license to check, she notices something about her. Turns out that there is a prophecy of the first born male and female children of the corn would conceive a son in which would become the new prophet of the corn. Cora decides to take her to Gatlin County Hospital - who has another patient - Isaac, who was actually put into a coma after He Who Walks Behind The Rows let him have enough life to kill Malachai in the original film.

Once at the hospital, Hannah meets all of the people who have been basically running Gatlin since the first film. Cora, her mentally handicapped brother Jake, Dr. Michaels, and the young Gabriel. While visiting Dr. Michaels, she finds out that the accident just left a bump on her head and she was not charged of anything. However, when looking around the hospital, she is chased down by Jake. He warns her that, "Only you can stop Isaac." Hannah touches Isaac’s hand and he becomes conscious for a second. That is when she meets Gabriel. But they let Hannah go to the local hotel, with this happening because she has to find out about the prophecy herself. At the hotel she meets Matt and Morgan, both who hate living in Gatlin.

The next day, Isaac has re-awakened fully. It turns out to be a full 19 years since the original film, and Isaac has a son - Matt. Matt is thought to be "the born child". Also that day - with Gabriel’s help, Hannah tries to find her birth certificate to help her kind her mother. Almost being killed by Jake, Hannah finds that someone took her birth certificate and paperwork and stuck it against a filing cabinet with a sickle. Later that night, about to take a shower, Hannah find in the shower a message drawn in blood: "GET OUT OR DIE!" She sees the perpetrator get into a truck and tries to follower her with no prevail.

The next day, we find out that Isaac has taken residence in the local church. Here, we find out about the prophecy and we also see that Hannah is actually the daughter of Rachel (the girl who stabs Burt and gets knocked out at the end of the first film and wife of Amos). Rachel is keeping a cover though that her baby is dead. But people question it since if that were true, then why are events in the prophecy coming true? Once everyone is gone, Isaac puts out a candle. But accouple of seconds later, it has mysteriously relit itself…

Hannah decides to look for the grave site where she is supposedly buried under the pseudonym "Baby Colby". After having another vision of Zachariah’s blood dripping her all over her. After the vision, Hannah and Rachel meet. Hannah asks why she, Rachel, forsaken her. Rachel did not want her to have anything to do with this and wanted to spare her from a life with Isaac - who Rachel now admits ruined everyone’s who related to the cult’s lives. But this is not stopping Isaac from doing much, including killing Dr. Michael by electrocution…

In the cornfield, Isaac and Gabriel meet and have a brief quarrel. Evidently Gabriel has his own set of values and starts toying with Isaac. Later that night, the ceremony begins with Matt being marked as being the first of the born. But this means that while Rachel had a son, it was not Amos’ son but rather Isaac’s! Plus, if he is to be with Hannah, the first born daughter, then Morgan is going to be jealous. So later that night, when the children try to get Hannah, Morgan helps Hannah get away (and Gabriel helps too later on the line). For her arrogance, Isaac executes Morgan, saying "In the name of He Who Walks Behind the Rows, I will execute judgment upon her."

Gabriel takes Hannah to a barn in which he has a collection of something: all the weapons that helped kill the adults in the original film. But not soon enough does a drunk Matt scare the hell out of Hannah. He is drunk because his girlfriend is killed, who he is to have a child with is predetermined by destiny, and since it is his 19th birthday, he will have to go into the corn and walk with He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Gabriel makes Matt go away (later kills him) and gives Hanna something she has been wanting: a shower. This would lead to Gabriel also being sprayed down with a hose and both of them submitting themselves to intercourse.

It is now midnight and Isaac’s prophecy from 19 years ago has not come to pass. This is pointed out by Rachel. For her insolence, Isaac and Cora take Rachel to the boiler room at Gatlin County Hospital for punishment - and to make Hannah have visions (since it is concluded that Hannah’s vision is born of pain). So Cora breaks a chair and with one of the legs beats Rachel - each one giving Hannah a vision of what is happening. So she goes to Gatlin County Hospital and sees what is happening. Gabriel comes also. Though the closer he gets, the more people he encounters that want to kill him, "for Isaac".

Just as soon Hannah comes into the boiler room, Gabriel also. Gabriel that Isaac stole his birthright from him. Gabriel is claiming that he was the first born male child of the children and that Isaac wanted it for his own son only. But through the earlier intercourse scene, the prophecy was fulfilled with Gabriel doing all of the work. But who else would know this except that Gabriel IS HE WHO WALKS BEHIND THE ROWS! Gabriel rises up to the air and uses a metal pole to kill Isaac. Afterwards, he lets Hannah and Rachel go out to start a new breed of children as Gabriel basically kills himself since after being stabbed with a sickle by Rachel, he pulls the sickle down his stomach and after Rachel and Hanna got out, burned Gatlin County Hospital. Hannah will now birth the child that shall lead us all. "And a child will lead them."

With "Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return", we now enter a third continuity in the Children of the Corn franchise. The first would be films one through three, the second could be accounted as an "Alternate reality" series in which all of the films are unrelated to each other. But this film starts a third series since it ignores all but the original film. This could have been something good. There was so much potential in this film, especially with the thick ties to the original and John Franklin not only is coming pack playing the role that made him famous - Isaac- but was also writing. But what went wrong?

Through out the film seems to be in continuity with the first film, the dating what happened in the film is more in line with the original short story by Stephen King. I make this observation by taking in consideration that the film takes place in the year it was made, 1999, and then take into consideration that the event of the original took place 19 years earlier. That would have made it 1978; which makes what happens in the film more of a sequel to the short story more than the original film (the short story was published in 1978 in the Stephen King Compilation novel, "Night Shift").

It is actually nice, all of the subtle connections that are in this film that connect it with the original. There’s Isaac. John Franklin being back for his signature role so that is a major plus. Second, the cover art for the DVD/VHS release has the silhouette of the hand holding the sickle on it. Third we have more returning characters, most notably Rachel, who was Amos’s wife from the original (and the girl which Burt knocked out and was stabbed by in the original).

But, what about the cast? There are only two people who I can actually respect in the cast. First would be John Franklin for reasons all to predictable and Stacey Keach. Stacey Keach, for those of you who are fans of cult cinema like I am, would notice him as Sarge Stadenko from "Cheech and Chong’s ‘Up In Smoke’" and as an army official in "John Carpenter’s Escape From LA". The rest, while good actors, are not people which I can like. And is more of the script’s fault than anything.

The major problem with the script - other than obviously seeing what influence John Franklin had on it (Isaac’s dialogue and the mannerisms of the corn cult) is that there is barely any killing of the adult characters except for Stacey Keach’s character (Dr. Michaels) and that most of the people are older than 19 years. Shouldn’t they have at one of the ceremonies in the film (there are two) given themselves to He Who Walks Behind the Rows? And then comes the biggest offence in the film: the depiction of the God of the Corn, the God of the Old Testament: He Who Walks Behind the Rows. He Who Walks Behind The Rows is Gabriel. This is just bad. The way he does things is bad because that is not what the He Who Walks Behind the Rows we all know and love would do things. And why do things like that? It would have been better if we had some children (which this film is short of) become possessed like Micha and force Isaac to be - like Amos - sacrificed to He Who Walks Behind The Rows. But just to make things easier - they made him human and make him a punk of a teenager. And the ending, Hannah having his baby, is just brainless and leaves room for a sequel (which will never be fulfilled) even though the marketing for this film claimed that this was going to be the last film in the series.

Plus, and this is something which I deem mandatory in my opinion, where is the stock footage? That would have been to great help with this film. Though the film would clash with the film of the new film. Which comes to another question: why is the film annoyingly filmed with almost everything looking corn stalk yellow? No, I did not just answer my own question, especially since it looks horrible. It may have looked good when Ryuhei Kitamura did it when he directed, "Versus", but not here.

The soundtrack just isn’t there. But then again, the soundtrack for the films since "Urban Harvest" has never been released so we can just skip that. Though what we do hear in the film is - all except the scene where Cora says "As if it ever stopped" - is all tasteless. It does not fit well with the mood of a Children of the Corn film and the two songs used in the film make no sense. As if two artists asked Dimension to include their songs in a film just for advertisement or just for the hell of it. This is some brain whacking reasons.

Overall, the film is just a poor excuse for another film in the series. It is not as bad as the last two entries in the series, but it is not as good as the original continuity. Just a really poor release. But what can you expect from direct-to-video films like this? It’s an ok film. It must be given credit for what it sets out to do but never truly accomplishes. 2/5

Production Notes:
"Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return" was chosen as the sixth installment to the series and was for a time marketed as the last film. The most attractive part of this film would the use of John Franklin, who once told Empire magazine‘s David Hughes, "Hollywood casting directors don’t exhibit much imagination when it comes to an actor who is five feet tall, so I’ll just have to write my own movies."

With this idea, John decided to go to Dimension and pitch his return to the franchise. Franklin would go on to say, "We lucked out by getting to them just as the project was beginning. We worked our butts off with the writing - it is so difficult to write and try to please six or seven producers and Bob Weinstein".

However, things in the horror genre were changing. Thanks to 1995’s SCREAM and it’s subsequent franchise, Dimension looked for a different type of sequel. In some Keri Skogland. Skogland would go on to tell Cinefantastique writer Dan Scapperotti, "All the other ones [installments] which kind of have their own life, own look, were not relevant to this story. This story was really Isaac." Keri would go on to say that the film was, "a reality-driven movie". The director would go on to say, "The mandate was to make a horror film that was smarter and cooler and more happening." "Given all the constraints, only so many locations and speaking parks, and just about zero special effects, I think it turned out better than I would have thought possible" said Franklin.

Principle photography took place in and around Los Angeles, California in November 1998. Production was headed by Blue Rider Pictures, who were known for making sequels for horror films, hence their moniker "sequel specialists". The company would go on to find and use two different cornfield for the film.

"Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return" was released 10 months later on DVD on October 19, 1999 (the VHS release would get a later release date of August 1, 2000) and would be released in the United Kingdom eighteen months later. The film was straight to video in most countries, but Amsterdam did allow a limited theatrical release of the film.

The kid with the denim jacket who is first found on the porch of the hotel, then in Hannah’s car, and finally closing the door to Hannah’s room was actually a visitor to the set, named Daniel. His visits were so often that they added him as a "why not" factor.

Chapter 9: "Children of the Corn: Revelation"

Worried about a lack of communication between the two, Jamie goes to Omaha, Nebraska to search for her grandmother, who has lived her whole life in Nebraska.

In the run down building, Jamie finds the most unlikely set of people. A cripple, a junkie, a stripper, even a paranoid man who packs a lot of heat. Associating only with the stripper, Jamie finds other strange characters: a lonely convenient store employee and a scared priest who walks the streets.

Jamie tries to do the most logical thing: go to the local law enforcement. Even the law enforcement (who also serves as a potential love interest) can’t find much information on Jamie’s grandmother. However, a mysterious cornfield is growing outside of the hotel.

One after another, Jamie is experiencing ominous occurrences. Pale children come up to her and stare. She finds out that her grandmother - a life long atheist - is keeping a Bible on her night stand. Jamie has nightmares of a young girl with resemblance to her grandmother going up a flight of stairs and spewing out corn kernels.

When she goes back to the police, Jamie finds out that when her grandmother was a child, there was a corn cult which at the time of most uncertainty due to law enforcement engagement, burned themselves in their tent in the local corn field. Only one person survived. Just happened to be Jamie’s grandmother.

As all of this is happening, the children - who are more like ghosts now - are killing the residents of the hotel one by one. However, when they are killed, the adults turn into children themselves. Once an adult is killed, a corn reef is placed onto the door.

When Jamie is the last one, the priest comes and gives her communion, in hopes that she will be safe. She makes it back down stairs safely, surviving an explosion and some attempts of killing by the kids. But one a cornfield starts growing on the main floor and it grabs a hold of Jamie, it is the potential love interest which saves her. As the smoke billows, the souls of the children snared by the corn cult are finally placed in peace.

I am not too keen on this one. By this time, it has been proven that nothing can reach the level which the original three films reached. The fourth film was a stand alone, the fifth film really was a big WTF in your face, and the sixth film has so much potential which was wasted since you can tell it was geared towards a teen audience and not fans.

The acting here is across the board, and it should come to no surprise that it is Michael Ironside as the priest which makes off with the best performance. Claudette Mink as Jamie is an ok performance of a character who seems a little stuck up. Everyone else is just across the board.

The direction by Guy Magar offers some interesting looks, but offers nothing really new to the film. Just another standalone film which while using some of the material which the original source had, totally reconstructs the whole Children of the Corn mythology.

Production Notes:
Production details about this film were luckily released by those few who had a website dedicated to "Children of the Corn" at the time. With that, it is known that one of the original concepts for this film was that two FBI agents are tracking down a serial killer to Gatlin, Nebraska where they learn of the killer’s roots in the corn cult. The title for this concept for the film was "Children of the Corn: Resurrection", but it never came to pass. Though along with this information came a rumor that on March 12, 2001 that the film was in post-production, but that was proven false. However, a detail proven true was that the film was filmed in Vancouver, Canada and some clips in Los Angeles, California (the film takes place in Omaha, Nebraska, mind you).

Coming up to the director’s plate was cult director Guy Magar, who made a successful career out of doing bit director parts for many TV shows and movies, including having some experience in horror direction an installment in another cult horror series, "The Stepfather 3". Guy was hired because Bob Weinstein was a fan of his and they were looking for a project they can co-head together. So was chosen this installment of the "Children of the Corn" series. When interviewed about it, Guy said that Bob’s final idea for the film was, "a ghost story in a tenement building a la The Shining," (in another interview, Guy worded it as, "The Shining as a low budget film in a tenement building.)" Guy Magar interpreted this as a chance to make a suspense film rather a horror film.

Guy Magar worked with Sally Smith to write the screenplay for this film, which was prepared in Los Angeles, California. In an interview, "First off, when you take on a picture that is a sequel, especially one based on Stephen King material, you are walking a fine line between staying true to the original concept and making it fresh for the new audience of the picture. Sally Smith, the writer, and I focused as much as we could on keeping that very fine balance. The picture used to have a much larger opening before the girl arrives to find her missing grandmother -- and when we were editing the picture, we found that we had given away too much information in the beginning and not kept enough of a mystery, yet we couldn't get rid of all of it because the story was based on the grandmother, what happens to her and the history behind it." The script went through six weeks of revisions.

When asked more about his director/writer relationship with Sally Smith, Guy Magar said that everyone was happy, which was a sign that everyone’s vision was achieved with the film. But also he talked about how writer/director interpretation worked out, "All of those things were my choice and here is why. First off, for the reveal of the head in the freezer ... in the script it says she leaves the store, and we move to the freezer and find the head of the guy who ran the convenience store. Now this is a very interesting question in how a director interprets the writer. The writer here in L.A. may not have had a very specific location in mind, and one of the problems a director has is to visually interpret that location. Where is the camera? How can we build up the suspense? I decided to take something as innocent as a gallon of milk, show blood on it, and then reveal the man's head above it on the freezer. This is an example of directing and interpreting the visual story as the milk was not scripted. For the train, in the beginning of the screenplay, it says the grandmother comes out looking for the whispering children. She gets run over by a truck. Location scouting in a new city like Vancouver, this Gothic sinister-looking building (which was the primary location) was not easy to find. So when we found one that would set the mood for evil forces lurking inside, we had to make the decision to deal with train tracks twenty feet from the building (trains would go by every hour, and sometimes twice an hour) or keep our three location scouts looking. It became a big decision to put up with this incredible problem that could cost us a lot of money if we don't make our days. Finally the decision was made by my producers (Michael Leahy and Lauren Feige) and myself that it was worth it. Then I thought, why can't Hattie get hit by a train versus a truck? The train ended up adding production value and weirdness that this apartment building was so close to the tracks. In reality, it is a storage house, no one lives there. The train became part of the story and part of the geographic mood of the movie. So no, it wasn't scripted."

Though when asked about the casting, Guy tried to pick cute kids since he claimed that the kids in the original films looked "hardened". Plus, along with the fact that they were shooting in Canada, also had to have the kids be from Canada. Guy also talked about the table read of the screenplay, "The entire cast had to come from Canada due to the financial breaks. The table reading was the day before shooting! We got a green light 3 weeks prior to the film. This was the shortest prep I have ever had. We also had to wait for Bob Weinstein to look at the casting tapes to approve the lead actress, Claudette Mink. We then did a table reading where the writer was not present as she was in L.A. Any script changes or notes I made quickly that evening myself with my producer's approval because they were minor and we were under the gun." But also in the interview question something comes up: how Guy interpreted the original Stephen King story, claiming that he thoughts it was, "children overtaken by evil forces." This seems to be questionable.

Though the biggest actor in this film was Claudette Mink, who plays the main protagonist. "The first scene in the movie, she gets dropped off by a taxi cab driver who happens to be me (I play the same cabdriver in every one of my features. Why should actors have all the fun?) I look at the tenement building and say "Lots of luck" to her. As an inside joke, as the director, I am saying lots of luck to the actress for what she's about to go through. Claudette Mink is an unusual actress I met in a "Welcome to Paradox" episode and then she guest-starred for me in a "Sliders" episode. She has such a wide range as an actress. She brings to the table no fear, and is very rugged. So I was not worried about going through the paces with her. As I knew she would, she rolled up her sleeves and pushed through nailing a lot of emotional scenes, and uncomfortable action sequences. It is part of the director's job to nurture and inspire the actor at any moment in any scene to give their best performance. If she had to do ten takes of screaming, then it was important for me to make her comfortable enough during the day and remind her 'what this was about', to keep her focused. The rest is her great talent and concentration. The great part about working with actors the second and third time is that you build a bond there, a trust, and a lot of what happens on the set between an actor and a director is based on that trust. If you say "That was really great ... but I need it three times bigger," you get it. The actor trusts that you do need it three times bigger and you are not pushing them for no reason."

Guy also talked about the positives about him being hired as the director, mostly because of the $2 million and below budget. "You have to be real careful about how you plan on doing effects. You have to sit down with your production manager and budget it out. What is best for the story? What can be eliminated or changed? What can be done physically if that is cheaper than CGI. Making those decisions, you almost need as a director to have a producing background to know what things cost, and the quickest and faster way to execute. I have an advantage in doing so for two reasons: first, I come from television and in TV you have to think very quickly on your feet and on set. Second, I have also produced my previous films, so I come from an indie producing background, and therefore I have worked on my own budgets and know how to juggle and what things cost. Once you have made those decisions of what will be done on set or not, you sit down with your DP. I am very camera oriented, so I have a visual feel for the picture. What is the mood I am looking for here? Do we want shadows? Do we want backlight? There is a lot of communication involved and I guide the DP in what directions to go including the moody visual effects you mentioned."

Another one of those decisions was the filming of the death of the drug addict in the film. "This is one of the moments where you think about pacing the picture as it can't be scary the whole time. Your story won't have any depth and it will become boring. The first thing is to humanize the characters and you do that so people really freak out when they are disposed. In this BBQ scene, pothead Jerry is relaxing, drinking, smoking a joint, listening to music, and waiting for this beautiful girl he invited to come up for a BBQ (in the film's case, grilled Corn). The mood and the setting had to be in such a way where you had no idea what the scene was going to develop into. The more you do that as a visual director, the more interesting your movie twists are and the more interested the audience is going to be getting sucked into the story."

Which brings up another interesting part of the film: the cast for the other people in the hotel with Jamie. Guy Magar had this to say on the matter, "When I came aboard, there were a lot more characters living in the building in the script and that was one of the reasons I liked the screenplay. But we got rid of some characters in the last revisions and then in the editing process as the storytelling focused to the few you mentioned who all were wonderful. The great thing about filmmaking is, you start with a screenplay, the writer's vision, but the translation of that vision to the screen becomes a different process. Some of the moments that worked on paper didn't work on film, or some of the moments not emphasized on paper become vital to the film. There is a big difference between enriching the story with a lot of details, and staying "on story." Usually, if you don't catch it at the screenwriting stage, you are going to catch it at the editing stage. In the world of independent filmmaking, where budgets and schedules are so crucial, you try and streamline the screenplay as close as humanly possible to what scenes and characters are absolutely necessary and will focus and pace the story. Try to answer these questions in the script stage because by the editorial stage it will have cost you a lot more money."

The film would be released onto VHS and DVD on October 9, 2001 - just in time for the Halloween season.