Children of the Corn (1984 film)

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Children of the Corn
Original 1984 theatrical poster
Directed byFritz Kiersch
Produced byDonald P. Borchers
Terence Kirby
Written byGeorge Goldsmith
Based onChildren of the Corn
by Stephen King
Music byJonathan Elias
CinematographyJoao Fernandes (credited as Raoul Lomas)
Edited byHarry Keramidas
Angeles Entertainment Group
Cinema Group
Hal Roach Studios
Inverness Productions
Planet Productions
Distributed byNew World Pictures
Release date
  • March 9, 1984 (1984-03-09)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$14.6 million[1]

Children of the Corn (advertised as Stephen King's Children of the Corn) is a 1984 American supernatural horror film based upon Stephen King’s 1977 short story of the same name. Directed by Fritz Kiersch, the film's cast consists of Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, John Franklin, Courtney Gains, Robby Kiger, Anne Marie McEvoy, Julie Maddalena and R. G. Armstrong. Set in the fictitious rural town of Gatlin, Nebraska, the film tells the story of a malevolent entity referred to as "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" which entices the children of the town to ritually murder all the adults in town and a couple driving across country, to ensure a successful corn harvest.

King wrote the original draft of the screenplay, which focused more on the characters of Burt and Vicky and depicted more history on the uprising of the children in Gatlin. This script was disregarded in favor of George Goldsmith's screenplay, which featured more violence and a more conventional narrative structure. Filming took place mainly in Iowa, but also in California. It spawned a franchise of films, and it has gained a cult following.


The film is set in the fictional town of Gatlin, Nebraska, an agricultural community surrounded by huge cornfields. In 1980, the town appears to be neglected, except for the church, and residents choose Biblical names over more modern ones. When the corn crop fails one year, the townsfolk turn to prayer to ensure a successful harvest. However, 12-year-old Isaac Chroner takes all of the children in Gatlin into the cornfields and indoctrinates them into a religious cult based around a bloodthirsty deity called “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”. Isaac and his subordinate, 18-year-old Malachi, lead the children in a revolution, murdering all of the adults (ages 19 and up, since 18-year-olds are seen as halfway between teenager and adult) in town as human sacrifices. Only Job and his sister, Sarah, refuse to participate, as they can see visions of the future, drawing them on paper.

Three years later in October 31, 1983, Vicky and her husband, Burt, travel through rural Nebraska for Seattle, where Burt will start working as a physician. Elsewhere, a young boy named Joseph tries to flee Gatlin, but is attacked in the corn, stumbling out into the road, and is run over by Burt's car. However, Burt discovers his throat has been cut beforehand. They place the boy and his suitcase in the trunk and search for a phone to call for help. They come across an elderly mechanic, the last adult in Gatlin, but he refuses them service. The mechanic is actually in an agreement to supply the children with fuel in exchange for his life. However, the merciless Malachi breaks the pact and murders him, against Isaac's wishes.

Vicky and Burt explore the abandoned town, finding Sarah alone in a house. Burt searches the town, while Vicky stays with Sarah. Malachi and his followers appear, capturing Vicky and taking her to the cornfield, where they place her on a cross to be sacrificed. Burt enters a church where a congregation of children, led by a girl named Rachel, are performing a cultural birthday ritual for her boyfriend, Amos, by drinking his blood, made by a cut on his body in the shape of a pentagram. Since Amos has turned 19, he is now considered old enough to be killed. Burt scolds the children for participating in a blood cult, enraging Rachel, and is chased by Malachi and the others. Job rescues Burt and they hide in a fallout shelter with Sarah, learning Vicky was captured. He also learns that Job and Sarah were trying to protect them from Isaac and his cult was because they had to witness the deaths of their own parents.

The zealous Isaac scolds Malachi for his treachery in killing the old man as he was their only source of fuel. The latter grows tired of Isaac's preaching and he takes over, ordering Isaac's sacrifice instead of Vicky. Isaac warns Malachi that sacrificing him will break their pact with He Who Walks Behind the Rows and the children will be severely punished. At night, Burt sneaks into the cornfield to rescue Vicky. During Isaac's sacrifice, a supernatural light appears and devours the screaming Isaac. Burt emerges and fights Malachi. After pushing him to the ground, Burt convinces the children to abandon the cult and run for safety. However, Isaac suddenly reappears, revived by He Who Walks Behind the Rows. He tells Malachi that the deity is angered over him being sacrificed. Isaac tells him that He Who Walks Behind the Rows wants his sacrifice too for his betrayal. He seizes and kills the terrified Malachi by breaking his neck.

A storm appears over the cornfield, and Burt and Vicky shelter the children in a barn. He and Job read a passage in the Bible. This confuses Burt as Job revealed the officer tried to set up the gasohol to stop He Who Walks Behind The Rows. He learns that Malachi had murdered him before he could save Gatlin. Vicky rereads the passage again and helps Burt realize that the cornfield must be destroyed by fire in order to stop the false god. Burt sprays the cornfield with gasohol and tosses a Molotov cocktail into the field, setting it alight and destroying the demon along with Isaac. Vicky, Burt, Job, and Sarah return to their car to leave Gatlin, only to find it disabled. Rachel attacks Burt, but Vicky knocks her out with the car door. Just before the survivors set out on foot, Vicky quips that they should all send Rachel a get-well card from Seattle, with Burt and Vicky ostensibly deciding to adopt Job and Sarah.





Film rights were originally optioned by Hal Roach Studios, and Stephen King wrote a script based on his own short story. Hal Roach executives did not want to use King's script and George Goldsmith was hired to rewrite it. Goldsmith says King's script started with 35 pages of Burt and Vicky arguing in a car, so he decided to tell the story visually through the eyes of two new characters, children Job and Sarah. King was unhappy with the changes but Hal Roach went with Goldsmith. Hal Roach eventually sold the project to New World Pictures who decided to go with Goldsmith's script, although they tried to remove his name from the credits in favor of King.[2]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 36% based on 25 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Children of the Corn's strong premise and beginning gets shucked away for a kiddie thriller that runs in circles."[3] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[4]

Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun Times awarded the film 1/4 stars, writing, "By the end of Children of the Corn, the only thing moving behind the rows is the audience, fleeing to the exits."[5] Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote, "As such movies go, Children of the Corn is fairly entertaining, if you can stomach the gore and the sound of child actors trying to talk in something that might be called farmbelt biblical. "[6] Ian Nathan from Empire Magazine gave the film 3/5 stars, commending the film's originality, but criticized the film's obvious budgetary constraints, poor effects, and "ludicrous monster movie denouement".[7] TV Guide awarded the film 1/5 stars, calling it "lame" and criticized the film's "gratuitous visual style".[8] Rolling Stone ranked the film at #7 in their list of "Top 30 Stephen King Movies", calling it "a lean, brutally tense slasher film".[9]

Television remake[edit]

In June 2008, it was confirmed that Donald P. Borchers would begin writing and directing a TV remake of the first film, which would premiere on the Syfy channel. Production began in August, filming in Davenport, Iowa;[10] however, it was later moved to Lost Nation, Iowa.[11]

The cast included David Anders, Kandyse McClure, Preston Bailey, Daniel Newman and Alexa Nikolas. The movie aired on September 26, 2009, and the DVD was released on October 6, 2009, by Anchor Bay.[12] The television remake closely follows the original storyline present in the short story, and not that of the original film.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

An audio clip of the character Isaac yelling "Don't you sit there, seize him, punish him, cut him down! I command you!" is used at the end of the song "Scream for Silence" in Children of Bodom's 2013 album Halo of Blood.

In the South Park episode "The Wacky Molestation Adventure", Cartman shouts the line "Outlander! Outlander! We have your woman! She still lives!" as a reference to the film.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Children of the Corn". 9 March 1984 – via
  2. ^ Borseti, Francesco (2016). It Came from the 80s!: Interviews with 124 Cult Filmmakers. McFarland. pp. 20–39. reference refers to Blood Frenzy
  3. ^ "Children of the Corn (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Flixer. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Children of the Corn Reviews - Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Children of the Corn Movie Review (1984)". Roger Roger Ebert. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent. "FILM: 'CHILDREN OF THE CORN,' BASED ON KING STORY - The New York Times". New York Vincent Canby. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  7. ^ Nathan, Ian. "Children Of The Corn Review". Empire Ian Nathan. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Children Of The Corn - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV TV Guide. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  9. ^ "'Children of the Corn' (1984) – Rolling Stone". Rolling The Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  10. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (September 15, 2008). "'Children of the Corn' remake adds cast". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Lost Nation comes back from 'the dead'". The Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
  12. ^ Retrieved September 16, 2008. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]

External links[edit]