Children of the Corn Blu-ray offers decent video and audio, but overall it's a mediocre Blu-ray release
Young lovers on a cross-country trip stop in a small Nebraska community and make a shocking
discovery. One day, three years prior to the couples' arrival, the town's children killed all of the
grown-ups at the apparent behest of a demon simply dubbed "He Who Walks Behind the
Rows." Based on a short story from horror scribe Stephen King's "Night Shift" collection, this
film spawned a slew of bloody sequels.
For more about Children of the Corn and the Children of the Corn Blu-ray release, see Children of the Corn Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 23, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Yet another film adaptation of a Stephen King horror yarn, Children of the Corn plays out
with the intensity of a high school basketball game. A Horror picture but not one that is
up to the standards that define the very best the genre has to offer, Children of the Corn
never manages to put it all together and move up to the big time. All the right pieces are in
including a good story, decent enough acting, solid direction, and the Stephen King connection
to sell a few more tickets (or in this case, Blu-ray discs), but like that high school matchup, the
of play and talent on the court just can't compete with the professionals. That's fine, because
a place in cinema for all sorts of releases of varying quality, from the Oscar winner to the
direct-to-video bore. Children of the
Corn falls somewhere in a very happy middle ground. It never embarrasses itself, playing
as a fine all-around picture that squeezes enough terror, emotion, intrigue, and drama out of its
unusual and unsettling story to keep up interest, but despite a good premise, the film never
past the expected twists and turns and never strays from the well-beaten path that has seen
a picture -- some better, some worse -- tread its weary dirt.
And a child shall lead them...
The small Nebraska town of Gatlin, once a thriving agricultural community, one day sees its adult
population wiped out by its children. Heeding the call of "He Who Walks Behind the Rows," the
children, led by Isaac (John Franklin) and his right-hand man and feared killer, Malachai
(Courtney Gains), slaughter their parents and other adults. Though the town falls into a state of
neglect, the children live to serve an unseen god that, through Isaac, orders the deaths of those
that should stray from the path and requests sacrificess in the form of travelers passing through
Several years after the formation of the cult, a young couple -- Burton (Peter Horton) and Vicky
(Linda Hamilton, Terminator 2: Judgment
Day) -- accidentally run over one of the town's children who had gone astray and was
murdered by Malachai. Though they try to avoid Gatlin at the behest of a local who lives outside
of town, they cannot escape it, all roads seemingly leading to it. Once there, they find two young
children -- Job (Robby Kiger) and Sarah (AnneMarie McEvoy) -- disillusioned with the cult and
rebelling by playing games and listening to music, two forbidden pastimes. As Burton and Vicky
piece together the town's disturbing history, they find themselves hunted by a cult of young men
and women bent on spilling their blood for their dastardly god.
Though playing with plenty of religious overtones that deal more with fringe cults rather
than mainstream denominations, Children of the Corn never feels over-burdened or
particularly preachy in either an embrace or denial of religion as a whole entity. Though the
religious aspect of the film plays central to the plot, it never completely dominates but rather
meshes with the overall feel of the film that is instead more defined by its story, atmosphere,
and under-age villains. Nevertheless, Children of the Corn builds a story which revolves
around questioning not the need for, purpose of, or place that peaceful religion holds in society,
but rather the forces that fight counter to the moral and philanthropic principles that tend to
define most mainstream religions, and the film contains images of the degradation of several
religiously-based works of art in an effort to show the cult's shunning of
the messages of those religions that espouse peace and life rather than violence and death. The
of worship plays no part other than to define that
which has driven the children to follow its "teachings" and carry out its "requests."
No more or less important to the story than would be a golden idol or any other object
someone may deem worthy of worship, it's simply a device built into a setting through which
the plot unravels with particular overtones, themes, and locations that define a small Midwestern
agricultural town. Ultimately, Children of the Corn makes for a somewhat chilling picture
not necessarily because of the mysterious, real-or-imagined "god" in the corn but rather because
of the devotion the young men and women of the town give to it in light of the dastardly
rituals, rules, and regulations that have come to govern their lives.
Children of the Corn plays out with something of a sluggish pace, but the slow start to
the film generally benefits the story's development and unnerving atmosphere and is also
countered by a rather fast third act. Though some of the material seems a bit goofy, particularly
in some of the more "adult" discussions between Isaac and Malachai, most of it holds up well
enough, and while Children of the Corn won't likely come to define the very essence of
the Horror genre and bring about restless, sleepless nights or an onslaught of nightmares, it
revels in its chilling simplicity and the brutality through which the children obey the corn. The
acting is a mixed bag; the aforementioned Issac and Malachai, portrayed by John Franklin and
Courtney Gains, don't always seem to have the characters or the material down perfectly,
resulting in a few awkward exchanges and lines as noted above, but they play the parts with an
eerie reality and their physical performances -- stares, glances, and body language -- steal the
show. Hamilton and Horton offer standard efforts that don't degrade or elevate the film.
Children of the Corn does feature above-average direction courtesy of Fritz Kiersch in
what was both his directorial debut and best-known picture. The film also delivers an
effective and haunting score from Jonathan Elias (Pathfinder).
Children of the Corn's 1080p Blu-ray transfer from Image Entertainment isn't so dissimilar to its Starz/Anchor Bay counterpart released some time prior to this Blu-ray. That now
out-of-print title presented the film in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, where this one opens things up just a hair to 1.78:1, filling up the screen completely on HD
television sets and removing the slight black bars appearing at the top and bottom of the other release. Otherwise, these two are similar, though the
Anchor Bay title appears a slight bit sharper, better defined, and with a slightly improved color balance over this Image release. This Image transfer does
retain a grain structure, but it also carries over some white pops and speckles that distract from, but don't destroy, the overall picture quality. Viewers
will enjoy a general crispness, with only a few softer, flat images scattered about the film. Generally, there's some rich detail to be enjoyed, including
plenty of worn-down small-town accents. Corn stalks, heavy country clothes, and pavement are all reproduced with great accuracy and attention to
precision detail, right down to fine lines and intricate textures that truly give them realistic shape. Colors are generally superb. Red and yellow store
fronts around town, the yellow car, green vegetation, golden stalks, and multi-colored clothes all impress. Blacks and flesh tones occasionally look a
touch washed out, as does the general color palette at times, but generally the colors appear even and accurate. The Anchor Bay transfer might be
better by a gnat's eyelash, but all told this is a good, quality image from Image Entertainment, with the slight change in aspect ratio the one major,
noticeable difference if one is just eyeballing the two side-by-side.
Please note that all twenty screenshots in this review have been taken from the Image disc and are of the same shot as the screenshot from the Anchor
Bay review. They have been placed in the same order for easy comparison.
Also different from the Starz/Anchor Bay release is Children of the Corn's lossless soundtrack. There a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 presentation and here
a DTS-HD MA 5.1 presentation, the tracks are both effective in presenting the material with some degree of sonic accuracy. Image Entertainment's
audio presentation enjoys nicely-boded music. There's a noticeable heft to it, and it spaces well across the front. The music leading up the diner
slaughter as seen early in the film plays deep, haunting notes that lightly fill the soundstage, setting a sonically effective dark and eerie mood for what is
to come. Bass can get a little rattly at times as it accompanies music, later in the film in particular as the action and danger intensify. But when bass is
used away from music as more of a general, foreboding ambient tool, it plays tightly and deeply. Sound effects aren't all that impressive. Ambience,
sporadic and sometimes utilizing a wider soundstage, is never quite as involved and authentic as it should be, and other effects, such as a car driving
through the soundstage from one end to the other, sounds crunchy and highly indistinct, even as the muddled sound does maneuver precisely from one
place to another. Much of the action remains largely the job of the center channel; this is certainly not a very involved listen, nor is it the most clear,
but all things considered it's adequate and even impressive in those times when everything comes together. Dialogue flows naturally from the center,
with no real hiccups or difficulties encountered alongside music or effects. This track isn't a dazzler, but it gets the job done and then some.
Although Children of the Corn turns into a standard chase movie in its third act, it keeps up
a good pace and delivers a suitable finale to an otherwise average Horror picture. From the mind of
genre maestro Stephen King, Children of the Corn features a compelling story that
translates to the silver screen with only ho-hum execution. Not a bad movie either within its genre
or in the whole of cinema but certainly not an all-time classic, the film enjoys something of a cult
following and, in the great tradition of the Horror genre, has been followed by several sequels, most
of which have gone straight to video. "The original that started it all" is once again on Blu-ray, this time from a different studio and, in terms of its A/V
presentation, not all that dissimilar despite a slight change in aspect ratio and a switchover from one popular lossless codec to another. Unfortunately,
this Image release kicks most of the supplements found on the now-defunct Starz/Anchor Bay release to the curb. This release is suitable for audiences
who don't care for extras or missed out on the last release and just need a Children of the Corn fix on Blu-ray. Already own this film in its
Starz/Anchor Bay edition? No need to buy this one; just enjoy that superior release one more time.
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