Children Of The Corn II: The Final Sacrifice

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The sometimes spotty track record of Stephen King adaptations is one thing, but if you really want to trawl the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the cinematic representations of one literature’s most successful authors, you have to enter the direct to video world of sequels to movies of King’s work. Popping up all over the 90’s like fucking weeds, movies such as The Lawnmower Man and Salem’s Lot got highly unnecessary follow ups – Jesus Christ, even The Mangler somehow even made it to a fucking trilogy – but surely the cream of the crop is the seemingly endless follow ups that belatedly followed in the wake of Children Of The Corn. To date theres been a staggering eight Corn movies that exist with a finished reboot currently stuck in limbo as we speak, but the insidious seeds were first planted by The Final Sacrifice, a dirt cheap cash-in that amusingly modeled itself as a franchise closer, but instead created more brattish followers than He Who Walks Behind The Rows could ever hope to muster.

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Not long after the events in Gatlin, Nebraska that saw the entire childhood population suddenly go cuckoo for cocopuffs and massacre the entire adult population, there seems to be confusion on the part of the authorities what to do with the surviving kids. Enter the neighbouring, foolhardy town of Hemingford who’s kinder residents volunteer to adopt the bunch of tots blissfully unknowing that there were – and still are – under the thrall of the demonic, corn field  dwelling entity known as He Who Walks Behind The Rows.
Led by new mouthpiece, Micah, a nostril flaring, teenage, bible basher just as punchable as the original film’s Isaac, the kids start aimlessly killing various members of this new town for no real reason other than that’s what you’re supposed to do in a belated, 1990’s, direct to video, horror sequel that no one asked for. But as the malevolent moppets commit murder after murder in broad daylight with no one realising that the culprits could very well be the children they all adopted from a frickin’ MURDER TOWN, it’sdown to paunchy trash reporter John Garrett and his equally obnoxious son, Danny, to figure this shit out.
Unfortunately, they can’t seem to stop feuding, so its actually down to Native American university professor Frank Red Bear to figure it all out and then John can take the credit (typical, right?). But aside from the unholy machinations of Micah who, for some reason, wants Danny to join his followers, John and Frank find that the heads of Hemingford are also up to no good and that their selfish treatment of nature for profit could well be what’s stirred up He Who Walks Behind The Rows once again.

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While big screen, quality horror slowly withered and died during the early nineties, low budget, direct to video crap was thriving like a virus, pumping endless shite into video stores that horror fans had to gobble up primarily because they had nowhere else to go. It’s this that surely is the only explanation that makes sense as genre diehards had to choke down endless, baffling sequels to Children Of The Corn, Puppet Master and Amityville just to get their horror fix.
Children Of The Corn, in particular, was always a strange choice to me primarily because the first movie wasn’t all that great in the first place – I mean I don’t know who was running around demanding a follow up nearly eight years later, but sure as shit wasn’t me.
However, slapping Stephen King’s name on something back in 1992 pretty much guaranteed someone would rent it regardless if King even knew it existed, let alone gave it his blessing and so the stage was set for a tedious, supernatural slasher that contain barely a single, likeable lead.
As bad as The Final Harvest is, there’s actually a surprising amount of fun to be had drawling through how bad it is – from the characters who all show off the irresistible charisma of a carrier bag full of roaches to the fact that the whole film is as scary as a kitten’s fart. Lead Terence Knox, a man who could unenviably pass as Daniel Baldwin in a power cut, spends the entire movie patronising people who obviously know more than him while Paul Scherrer sends the whine-o-meter up to Skywalker levels and why the film seems to think we want them to end up with hot women in town is unfathomable. Nevertheless, we are “treated” to a trauma inducing scene where John drags his bloated carcass onto Rosalind Allen’s unfeasibly hot hotel owner for an overlong (and upsettingly sweaty) love scene, not to mention we also get endless moments of his son making out with a pretty, blonde orphan (every small town has one, right?).

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Unsurprisingly for a movie with unheroic heroes, Children Of The Corn II’s villains are similarly flat, although Micah actor Ryan Bollman is obviously trying his heart out with everything his regional drama school performance can muster. He screams, he rants, he flings evil prophecies in every direction like malevolent frisbees, but it’s hard to make a genuinely scary bad guy out of a screechy brat you could take with one punch. It also doesn’t help that everytime some spooky, murder shit goes down, the director insists on having all the kids stand and watch like they’re posing for some kind of Satanic school photo, but to give this crap it’s due, the kills are by far the best part.
Weirdly staged far less seriously as the rest of the film, the noticably varied deaths may be utterly ridiculous (made even more so by the Omen-style chanting on the soundtrack) but they’re admitted kind of fun. Try not to giggle when a mean old biddy has her raised house lowered onto her while she shrieks “Oh what a world!” in an unhinged homage to the Wizard Of Oz, or when her wheelchair bound sister has her mode of transport hijacked by an evil remote control for a Mrs Deagle-from-Gremlins-style fate that includes a well timed truck, a plate glass window and a bingo hall. Elsewhere, another guy dies from a fatal nosebleed that’s enjoyably icky, another gets stabbed by hypodermic needles while yet another get their neck harpooned by a flying corn stalk – it’s all dumb stuff but by god is it welcome when it comes to actually keeping your interest fixed on this movie – something that’s incredibly necessary thanks to its baffling subplots involving Native American explanations that seem to have wandered in out of Pet Sematary and the money making scheme of Hemingford that involves selling poisoned corn.

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No doubt bolstered by endless rentals by stoned, 90’s horror fans bored out of their gourd, the Children Of The Corn franchise has stubbonly refused to stop spreading to this day and its true ground zero can be found is right here in the film that bears the subtitle: The Final Sacrifice.
That tells you everything you need to know about a film that puts the stalk, in stalk and slash.

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