Children of the Corn (1984 film)

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Children of the Corn
Original 1984 theatrical poster
Directed by Fritz Kiersch
Produced by Donald P. Borchers
Terence Kirby
Written by George Goldsmith
Based on "Children of the Corn 
by Stephen King
Music by Jonathan Elias
Cinematography Joao Fernandes (credited as Raoul Lomas)
Edited by Harry Keramidas
Angeles Entertainment Group
Cinema Group
Hal Roach Studios
Inverness Productions
Planet Productions
Distributed by New World Pictures
Release dates
  • March 9, 1984 (1984-03-09)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $800,000[1]
Box office $14,568,589[1]

Children of the Corn (also known as Stephen King's Children of the Corn) is a 1984 supernatural horror film based upon the 1977 short story of the same name by Stephen King. Directed by Fritz Kiersch, the film stars Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton. 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 to ensure a successful corn harvest, and a couple driving cross-country that get caught up in it.

King wrote the original draft of the screenplay, which focused more on the characters of Burt and Vicky and depicted more backstory on the uprising of the children in Gatlin; this can be seen in the 2009 adaptation. 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. Eight sequels have been produced.


In the fictional town of Gatlin, Nebraska, Joby tells the story of how the town became haven for a group of young cultists. The economy of the town is mostly agricultural, and the town is surrounded by vast cornfields. One particular year the corn crop fails and the people of Gatlin turn to prayer in an attempt to ensure a successful harvest. A boy preacher, Isaac Chroner (John Franklin), takes all the children of Gatlin into a cornfield to speak to them about the prophecies of a strange, bloodthirsty incarnation of the Abrahamic God called "He Who Walks Behind The Rows". Isaac, through his lieutenant Malachai (Courtney Gains), leads the children in a revolution, brutally killing all of the adults in the town. Over the ensuing years, the children take any adults passing through as sacrifices.

Three years later, Burt (Peter Horton) and his girlfriend Vicky (Linda Hamilton) pass through Nebraska while driving cross-country to Burt's new job as a physician in Seattle, Washington. As they travel in their car they hit a small boy out on the highway. This boy was one of the Gatlin children who tried to escape the iron hand of the syncretistic death cult. The couple place his body in the trunk. They encounter an old mechanic, who is no help, as the children of Gatlin have employed him to lead all adults passing through to the town, but they betray him and kill him anyway.

Burt and Vicky finally end up in Gatlin, after searching for several hours for a phone. A struggle ensues between the couple and the children as the couple are chased through the city. Burt and Vicky rescue Joby and his little sister Sarah, who do not wish to be part of the cult. Vicky is captured by Malachai, and is prepared as a sacrifice before they track down and capture Burt and the children.

Meanwhile, Malachai and the others have grown weary of Isaac's arrogance. Assuming command over the children, Malachai orders Isaac to be sacrificed in Vicky's place, though Isaac warns them that they will all be punished for this affront, as by sacrificing him they will have broken their covenant with He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Night soon falls and Burt enters the cornfield to rescue Vicky. The sacrifice begins and He Who Walks Behind The Rows (in the form of a writhing, amorphous, pale-glowing light) seemingly devours Isaac. Burt arrives and battles Malachai, telling the children that their minds have been poisoned and their humanity sacrificed in the name of a false god. As Malachai tries to regain control of the children, Isaac's re-animated corpse (possessed by He Who Walks Behind The Rows) appears and kills Malachai, breaking his neck.

Soon, a terrible storm gathers over the cornfield and Burt and Vicky gather the children inside a barn to shield them from He Who Walks Behind The Rows' wrath. As the storm intensifies all around them, Joby shows a Bible verse to Burt and Vicky that indicates that they must destroy the cornfield for the evil to cease (it is heavily implied that He Who Walks Behind The Rows is not the God of the Bible but an aspect of the Devil). While filling the irrigation pumps with gasohol fuel, He Who Walks Behind The Rows (this time in the form of both a burrowing underground shape and a demonic red cloud) lashes out at Burt, and prepares to destroy the barn. However, Burt is able to spray the fields with the flammable liquid and lights a Molotov cocktail, tossing it into the field, burning it and seemingly destroying the demon.

Burt, Vicky, Joby and Sarah survive and are able to leave Gatlin as the cornfields burn. As Burt grabs the map they used to get there, a teenage girl who is a member of the cult jumps out at him from the back seat and attempts to stab him. Vicky knocks her out with the passenger door, and the four walk off into the distance to parts unknown.



The film received negative reviews from Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on At the Movies.[2] At Rotten Tomatoes, it has a "Rotten" rating of 38%, based on 24 reviews, with the average review being 4.1/10.[3] The film took in over $14 million at the US box office.[4]

Filming locations[edit]

The towns of Hornick and Whiting, both in Iowa, were used for most of the exterior scenes and several of the interiors.

The exterior street scene with the yellow concrete flag pole in the center of the intersection is located at Whittier and Blair Streets in Whiting, Iowa.

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,[5] however, it was moved to Lost Nation, Iowa.(TJC)

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.[6] The television remake closely follows the original storyline present in the short story, and not that of the original film.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b IMDb
  2. ^ Review on At The Movies
  3. ^ "Children of the Corn (1984)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  4. ^ "Children of the Corn (1984)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  5. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (September 15, 2008). "'Children of the Corn' remake adds cast". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]