Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn”

The other night, I finally got to see the 1984 film adaptation of Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn”. I have been wanting to see this film for years now, but the opportunity never arose and to be fair, although I could have easily picked up the DVD cheaply enough, I was hesitant since the reviews from most folks were lukewarm to hostile

Now, I don’t recall having read the story before, although I could swear I read “Night Shift” (the short story collection where it was first collected in book form after its initial appearance in Penthouse magazine in 1977) back in the 80’s, but I may be confusing it with “Different Seasons”, which I know I read for sure.

UK edition of “Night Shift” with cover art depicting an image from the story “Children of the Corn”.

Anyway, I came to the movie with no preconceptions of how the plot should unfold or how the characters should look or behave, but even with that, I found it a little unsatisfying. I could sense a good story somewhere in there, but it felt diluted somehow. Well, after seeing the movie, I pulled out my copy of the book “Stephen King Goes to the Movies” and read the story for what I believe is the first time ever and I loved it! It was so creepy and even though a lot of the same scenes were in the movie, they were so much creepier in the book and there were little details like a painting of what seemed to be a creepy leering Jesus, with green hair which looked like corn plants. The discovery of the list of births and deaths in town since 1964, insinuating that no one lived past the age of 19, which in the movie was made into a big deal with Burt (the protagonist) confronting some kids in the church, was a much more subtle and hair raising scene in the story. The eerie silence of the town (before the kids showed up and attacked Vicky, Burt’s wife) and the lack of weeds or insects in the corn rows was unsettling and, lastly,the respective fates of Burt and Vicky in the harrowing finale were completely different from the milquetoast movie version.

“Stephen King Goes To the Movies” 2009.

Even so, the movie was watchable at least, unlike the 2009 TV remake, which according to 9-out-of-10 reviewers online, sucks so bad it hurts. In fine, I may still purchase a copy of the original film for my DVD collection some day, if I find it cheap, but I recommend reading the story first, if you are curious.

French movie poster for the 1984 movie, with alternate title.

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