Tuesday, September 20, 2011


     20 miles from Gatlin, Nebraska, 1973, the madness begins.  Unending rows of the corn, dilapidated farm houses, corn husk dolls, honery evangelical kids in Amish-like get ups, not too many adults (left, at least in this version).  You're driving down the Interstate in the present day Californian desert listening to the only stations that come in-fire and brimstone religious sermons about sinful ways of the outside world and some mumbo-jumbo about harvesting the unrepentant.  Passing an abandoned house that looks straight out of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", you press the pedal the metal, hoping to get the hell out of Dodge and skip out having to stay at that rundown motel like the one in "Psycho".  In the corner of your eye, a weird-looking child darts from the cornstalks in front of your vehicle.  You slam on the brakes, but it is too late.  You have ran over the little bugger, his throat previously slashed...wait,  Rihanna (the pop star, that is, who appeared the 2009 "Children"), where did he go?!  OMG!  The kid's has leaped up and is now smashing out your car windows with a sickle! 
     "And a child will lead them."

     No, you're not driving through hillbilly country in the Ozarks-you are watching "Children of the Corn: Genesis", from Dimension Films.  Based on a short story by Stephen King, this eighth installment of "Corn" in a long line of prior sequels is artfully directed by Joel Soisson (The Prophecy, Dracula II: Ascenscion, Dracula III: Legacy, Pulse, Feast, A Nightmare of Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, many more), and stars horror and acting great Billy Drago (Demon Hunter, El Muerto, The Hills Have Eyes, The Untouchables).  Mr. Drago plays the part of the renegade man-of-god with his characteristic baritone drawl and predatory growl to the letter, as a couple of highway trekkers get lost on the old mine roads and come across his crumbling country shack, with corrugated tin roofing, outdated furnishings, and all the stereotypical psychobilly cannibal axe-murdering trappings.   

     King's original "Children of the Corn" story, first published in Penthouse in 1977, exuded genius in its zeitgeist of the twisted cult insanity brewing in rural America, the preachers yelling at the sinners of the world on the AM car radio dial.  This "Corn" hops to modern-day California where, lo and behold, distressed motorists Allie (Kelen Coleman, the apparent protagonist of the story) and her boyfriend/baby-daddy-to-be Tim (Tim Rock, in a decidely gimpy role) breakdown in bumfuck Egypt, and are predictably without cellular reception or local assistance.  And, of course, they think...(wait for it) let's go knock on the front door of the nearest bloody crucifix-nailed evil-looking shit shack, and ask for help.  Sure, what could it hurt? 

     There's no turning back when flying objects (a nod to Stephen King's "Carrie" as well, maybe?) and He Who Walks Behind The Rows begin to plague the stranded outsiders.  The travelers are stranded overnight with the cat-eyed Preacher, who spouts obscure biblical quotes from the Book of Genesis and exclaims "Every single adult in Gatlin (Nebraska) was slaughtered...by children!"  The goings-on in the "Corn: Genesis" redux are reminiscent of the original, and of the sub genre of horror in which unsuspecting youth discover wild occult happenings in the wilderness of the country, the sort of Brothers Grimm/Little Red Riding Hood fable warning you not to walk through the forest at night and to beware of deceptive strangers. 


     And so the seed is sown.  Soisson moves "Genesis" off on a tangent, placing the action in off-the-map Californian farmlands.  The Preacher (Drago) and his mail-order bride carry out the majority of the entrapments, and Old Testament-style murders and punishments are meted out by the eerie Children and the unseen force or killer that possesses the children and lures them with Bible verses and targeted hatred, called "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" by the possessed . 
     So it is the adults are slaughtered by sharp farm tool or hurled projectile.  Pregnant mothers-the one in this film being played by Coleman-are imprisoned, whilst "the seed that lives inside of other seeds" is sown.  The unknown force, which, according to Soisson ("At the bottom of all good horror stories is the unknown", Soisson relates on the Bonus section of the DVD), compels the young folk of the town to do its malevolent bidding in the guise of religious righteousness.

     This version of the franchise does not enlist a character named "Malachi".  Instead, we see the telekinetic workings of a boy trapped in a tin barracks, playing with toy cars.  Scary runtlings in bonnets, wide-brimmed hats and suspenders, glare.  A rumbling is heard coming from the cornfields.  Pitchforks and crosses fly through the air seemingly of their own accord.  In the Holy Bible in Isaiah 11:6, it says "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them."  Definitely, this applies "Corn: Genesis", wherein evil and goodness are almost indistinguishable, and little lambs slaughter the adult wolves a la "Children of the Damned".
     "Genesis" is a decent spin of the "Corn" mythos.  I would most certainly recommend seeing the 1984 version beforehand to gage what all the hub-bub is about.  Yet, here is little lamb ripe for the slaughter-not the greatest bloody flick ever, but a very watchable indeed journey down a crazed country lane in the wee hours with a flat tire.
      So go head and boil a few corn on the cobs.  Read up on the Old Testament.  Chuckle at the kid at the country store of the gas station on that old country road.  Or better yet, drive down it.  Late at night.  With a low tank of gas and a crappy tire.  Hum a tune-here's one for ya-"Bringing in the Sheaves".  Tell me you are not afraid when your car breaks down-or better yet, hits some little Jesus-freak urchin running across the road!  The corn is pleased.  Hope that cell phone works. 

                                                                 Dimension/Miramax Films


No comments:

Post a Comment