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Review: Donald P. Borchers’s Children of the Corn on Anchor Bay DVD

This indifferently made TV-horror flick will inspire more snores than scares.

2.5

Children of the Corn

This lazy reimagining of a terse Stephen King short story drags itself through the horror paces, with a predictable slow build toward a couple of splashy gore sequences. An unhappy, bitchy couple (David Anders and Kandyse McClure) squabble their way through a cross-country trip taking them deep into the heart of the American Midwest, amid endless rows of corn. Little do they know they’re heading straight into a seemingly abandoned ghost town populated by a maniacal cult of Bible-thumping kids who love to hack up all “outlanders” with their trusty scythes. The lethargic pacing, matched with an unlikeable pair of one-dimensional heroes who seem to loathe one another, makes for a tedious viewing experience, and even bizarre Vietnam flashbacks (as the hero runs through a cornfield, he imagines himself in the combat zone) and a gratuitous, would-be provocative teenage sex scene in a barnyard church in front of a wide-eyed audience of children can’t liven up this otherwise inert TV-movie-of-the-week offering. Harlan Ellison once said that when it comes to book adaptations, children often “don’t look like their fathers” and the material winds up being a bastardization of the original’s form, but King himself co-wrote this tepid screenplay, so I guess he has no one to blame but himself.

Image/Sound

Shot in the flat, cheap and cheesy style of Syfy Channel movies, Children of the Corn is a mediocre looking movie, though the transfer seems clean. The audio quality is precise and well modulated.

Extras

There is over 45 minutes of documentary and interview footage in the special features, mostly covering the fact that this is the remake of a forgettable 1984 film that watered down all the elements of Stephen King’s original story to please the studio (i.e., the protagonists were made sympathetic, the heroes survive, and there were a few goody-goody kids among the sinister children’s cult). The original film’s producer, Donald P. Borchers, directed the remake, and apparently he was allowed to go all-out and make it real nasty, achieving his goal making a film about the wish-fulfillment fantasy of a married couple “who would love to see each other dead.” But then he starts waxing philosophical about the war in the Middle East and it dovetails into a bit of pretentious commentary about religious extremism. The remaining interviews with cast and crew seem to cover the standard electronic press kit questions, and the responses seem perfunctory at best. Lead actress Kandyse McClure even stops herself mid-interview, surprised by the words coming out of her mouth, and says, “What I’m saying sounds like so much actor-y garbage!”

Overall

This indifferently made TV-horror flick will inspire more snores than scares.

Cast: David Anders, Kandyse McClure, Preston Bailey, Daniel Newman Director: Donald P. Borchers Screenwriter: Donald P. Borchers, Stephen King Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment Running Time: 92 min Rating: NR Year: 2009 Release Date: October 6, 2009 Buy: Video

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