Ah, Children of the Corn; the 1978 Stephen King short story about a couple happening upon a terrifying cult, a tale that eventually spawned a horror franchise with more instalments than pretty much anything else he wrote. It’s quite astonishing how many of these have been cranked out; nearly a dozen feature films over four decades. Folk horror cults. Bloodbaths. And, of course, a demon, He Who Walks Behind The Rows (who many suspect is Randall Flagg, The Man In Black from “The Dark Tower” and “The Stand”, given how close the little town of Gatlin is to Hemingford Home).
The films range in quality, from absolutely abysmal to actually okay-ish and enjoyable. Here at The Film Magazine, we’ve saved you the effort of suffering through the unbearable ones. In this Movie List, we’re putting the Children of the Corn movies in order to establish which ones are worth checking out, which ones are probably a fun time for a “so bad it’s good” drunk horror marathons, and which ones you should ignore with every fibre of your being. You’re welcome.
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11. Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return (1999)
Some films are cinematically void of anything intelligible, fun, or even salvageable. Isaac’s Return might just be one of those films.
Featuring Brian De Palma stalwart Nancy Allen, Isaac’s Return presents her character’s (Hannah’s) return to Gatlin, where she believes she’s from, to find her mother. However, Isaac, not seen since the first film, is secretly kept alive, comatose, and when Hannah comes home, Isaac returns.
John Franklin tries his best. So does Nancy Allen. Possibly. Her character is so devoid of sense, even for a horror movie heroine, that it’s hard to tell. She probably just did it for the paycheck, as Betsy Palmer did in Friday the 13th and apparently Ellen Burstyn did in The Exorcist: Believer. The direction is atrocious, the editing awful, the plot nonsensical. Isaac, despite now being in his thirties, isn’t immediately sacrificed (breaking the rules and entire point of the story, for some reason), everyone’s in on everything, and you just spend your time bashing your head against a wall.
Thankfully there’s absolutely nothing redeeming here, and the word thankfully is used because, if there was a nugget of quality, you might seek it out, enduring the horrors for some grain of cinematic interest that will only disappoint.
10. Children of the Corn (2009)
When remaking a cult classic from 25 years earlier, the place to do it in the late 2000s was Syfy.
This version is, for the most part, fairly similar to the original. Burt and Vicky hit a child with their car, go to Gatlin to get help, and find there’s nothing there but corpses, children, and a presence behind the rows.
There is perhaps one interesting idea in this, which occurs near the end, with Burt’s post-Vietnam PTSD causing him to hallucinate in the cornfields, like the jungles he fought in. However, his Vietnam veteran past is overdone to the point of driving you insane (as opposed to the character). The new Isaac can’t act, the couple squabble for most of the movie so you almost want them to die, and there’s simply nothing likeable here. The ending is awful, and though there’s more mystery around whether it is all just a cult or actual supernatural activity, it still lands like a dead husk of corn.
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