Thursday, August 19, 2010

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror

Let’s talk direct-to-video sequels for a minute, here.

Most of these things should be both much better and much worse than they are. Worse because the budget is often something like one-tenth of the original.

Better, because they’re often made by the new and hungry, who are calling in every favor they have so that the movie will come out awesome, which will impress people, so their next movie has actual money and a theatrical release date behind it.

A decent hour of television around the time (1998) this movie came out probably cost somewhere around a million bucks. That’s per episode. But if I had to guess, I’d say most of these “Corn” movies probably came in at a cost of maybe a half-mil.

Perhaps less.

The thing is, though, V is a bit of an anomaly. It was written and directed by Ethan Wiley, who wrote the minor hit “House” in the 80s. And then went into a bit of a fallow period. Or at least, nothing he was trying to get made GOT made. If you check out his IMDB information, after he wrote “House II” in 1987, there’s nothing on his resume until this movie.

After that, there’s another 10-year gap before his next project.

So I have to imagine that the guy really, really, really wanted this one.

But there were, of course, some obstacles.

Let’s start with the previous movies. 1 and 2 kind of fit together, although the passage of time between the two movies horks things up a bit.

Then we’ve got III, which is tied to the previous movies in only the most tenuous of ways, but which still has a killer ending that could have led to a whole new offshoot for the series.

This led to IV, which doesn’t tie to III. Or as near as I can tell, to 2 or 1 either. Mostly because they forgot to even mention “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”

Wouldn’t it be neat if our new friend Ethan decided to try to tie it all together?

Sure. Let’s give it a go.

Ethan gets one thing right, from the first moment. The movie starts in a corn field. We’re in a point-of-view shot, walking through the corn. Then we’re not anymore. Instead, we’re watching a hand crush a flower that is, I guess, in the corn field.

Now it’s night. Shot of the moon. Credits.

Still night, but back to the corn. A kid is walking through the corn. In the dark. So that we can barely see him. Plus the credits are still rolling.

The kid gets to a small fire pit located in the heart of the corn, while the credits remind us that this movie is TOTALLY based on a Stephen King story.

The kid approaches the fire, which, a couple of times, turns a little greenish. He gets within about a foot of the fire, and green sparks shoot out of it, flowing into the kid’s chest.

The kid falls over. The fire goes back to being a normal fire.

The kid opens his eyes. There’s green fire in them.

Now we’re looking at a house. It’s the middle of a rainstorm and a burn-in on the screen tells us that it’s one year later.

You know, is that an exact thing? Has it been exactly 365 days since the event we just had to sit through?

Regardless, we’re in POV-Cam mode again, approaching the house. And then, it’s just inside the house. It’s pretty dark in there, though no mention is made of saving electricity, or the power being out, or whatever.

Instead, a man and a woman talk about the fact that the man found one of their heifers with its throat slit by their property line. Third one this month. He mentions something about “kids” and “Luke’s place.”

Back to spooky-cam outside. There’s a thump inside the house. The man decides to “check it out.” With his shotgun. And a raincoat and rain-hat.

He walks for a second, and spots the kid we just met in the opening scene. The man asks what the kid is doing there. The kid says, “That corn field belongs to us.”

The kid lifts his hand, and the farmer is lifted up in the air, where he’s struck by a bunch of lightning. The kid drops him. He dead.

His wife, in the meantime, has run out into the rain. She stands there while more kids approach. They beat her to death. I guess she wasn’t worthy of being killed via magic. You’ve gotta earn that kind of death.

Then we’re somewhere else, by cracky. A bad road. And it’s day now. A guy and a girl are driving along in a convertible. He’s playing with an inflatable doll. You know the kind. They pull over, and he puts the doll on a road sign.

We leave the happy couple, and meet four new people in ANOTHER vehicle. Well, five, if you count Kurt, the dead guy in the urn. There are two guys in the car, and two girls, but we don’t get a name for any of them. Even the subtitles don’t give you a clue. So let’s move on.

We’re back with the man and woman, who stop to put yet ANOTHER doll up pointing where the other car is supposed to go. This has to be the most expensive way to give directions ever.

The guy looks away from the girl for a second, and when he looks back, she’s gone. Did I mention that we had another corn-POV shot of the girl just before that? We did.

The dude wanders around, looking for his lady. He walks right by a sign that says No Trespassing. Ah, and there she is. She’s just taking some corn from inside the field. Never mind that there’s plenty right at the edge. And that they don’t seem to be headed anywhere that they can actually use the corn.

The music is getting ominous, and she sees kids running through the corn. She yells to the dude. He yells to her. Yet, they don’t hear each other. As we all know, corn is a natural sound barrier.

Finally, a random kid we’ve never seen before cuts her up with a small scythe and she dies.

Dude walks through the corn and sees a clearing. His dead lady and a few kids are there.

Possessed kid comes out of the corn and admonishes the killer kid for killing. The dude runs. Two other kids catch him and kill him. Killer kid also has a whack at the dude.

We’re 13 minutes into the movie, and four people are dead and one is possessed. Not bad.

Now it’s time for a shot of the gas pump that the dude was attaching the inflatable doll of love to. The doll is gone.

Back to the other car. The people in it are all lost, because there are no dolls to guide them. Until the “lost” doll suddenly appears in their windshield.

There’s screaming and swerving.

The car goes into a ditch.

Everyone tumbles out. Kurt is out of his urn and onto his ex-girlfriend. Otherwise, everyone is okay.

Ex-girlfriend smells something funny, and wonders what it is. Possessed kid comes out of the corn and says it’s none of their business. The kid tells them that they don’t have a phone, they’re on private property, and town’s about a mile “that way.”

Conversation over, the kid and his backup leave.

Our “heroes” get their stuff out of the car and head to town.

In town, the heroes find Kurt’s favorite dive bar, and head in for a beer.

Ex-girlfriend goes to wash up.

I’m gonna go bonkers if I don’t throw names on these people, so….

The driver is named Greg. Other dude is named Tyrus. Ex-girlfriend is Kir. And Other girl is named Allison.

There, I just gave you more than both the movie and the subtitles have offered you up to this point. You’re welcome.

Greg asks the bartender for beer. Allison asks for a tow truck. It seems that the truck is out of commission.

They also ask about their friends, but the bartender says they haven’t seen them. The bartender, by the by, it played by Kane Hodder, who is best known as Jason is a handful of the Friday the 13th movies. Mostly the ones that no one is actually a fan of.

Even more funny? He had a small role in “House IV.” This makes the horror movie circle complete.

Greg, already bored by talking about their missing friends, tells the bartender that the town smells like burnt popcorn. This allows some other dude in the bar to babble on about how a corn silo exploded, and how they can burn for months.

The silo is located on Lucas Enright’s farm. It seems he’s a “queer duck” who keeps to himself. Him and his smattering of “adopted children” who work on the farm. They’re also religious nuts who worship “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”

Dude, wipe your mouth. You got some exposition barf on yourself.

Allison picks up on the “He Who Walks” bit. She seems to know something. Kir and Tyrus come back to the bar, and Allison says they should go. Near as I can tell, they don’t even pay for their drinks.

They get outside, and a local cop asks if they’re lost. They tell him about their car, and he says he can’t help. Also, if they run, they can just make it to the bus. Only they don’t. So they walk back to the car.

They get there. It’s on fire.

This makes Greg more sad than his dead friend’s ashes flying all over.

Allison says she thought she saw a house down the road – she’s thinking there might be a phone they can use.

Um… er…

Who are they going to call? The cops? Dude clearly wasn’t all that interested in their plight. Their friend? This is a time before cell phones were prevalent. I swear, this woman is bonkers.

Whatever. They walk. They get to the house. It appears to be deserted. In fact, it is deserted, since it belonged to the man and woman who were killed in the first five minutes of the movie. Not that the director makes it easy to figure this out, since he manages to shoot the house in the most generic way possible, and include no helpful hints as to who the house belonged to.

Allison votes that they stay there for the night, and catch the bus in the morning. They go in, and somehow locate a lamp. Which they light.

Other things they find in the house: The beds are all fully made, the water is still on, and the pantry has food in it. Including fruit cocktail and Smeat. Which might be a Spam joke.

Also found? Beer.

The group eats. They blabber about the fact that Kurt died in a bungee-jumping accident, and Allison refuses to drink a beer. Turns out Allison found a suicide note. She hid it before anyone could find it. Which begs the question: How do you commit suicide while bungee jumping? Do you tip the person tying you up to do a bad job?

This makes Kir mad. Or sad. Some combination of the two. Tyrus puts her in bed, and he’s about the leave, but she says she doesn’t want to be alone. And she kisses him. You can tell she’s into it because she’s breathing. Not heavy or anything, but she’s definitely converting oxygen to carbon dioxide.

Outside, Greg does something that resembles confronting Allison about Kurt’s suicide note. Allison would rather talk about her brother. It seems her dad was a mean drunk, and as soon as she could, she moved out. Dad got worse, and took it out on her brother, Jacob. So he ran away, when he was about 14.

The last thing he said to Allison was that he was devoting his life to “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”

Night falls further. Evil-POV-cam stalks around the house while everyone sleeps.

Allison wakes up because she hears a noise. So does Kir, who’s lying in bed with Tyrus. She grabs the sheet and walks to the window. She opens the curtain. Someone is outside.

She screams and falls back. Allison comes in, and Kir says there was a man at the window. Allison says she’s going to go get Greg, and be right back. She does not comment on the naked people who clearly had man-woman relations. Or just cuddled.

Outside, Allison and Greg shine a flashlight they found somewhere around in the dark. Allison finds a muddy handprint on the side of the house.

They hear a noise, and head away from the house. They don’t bother to tell their friends where they’re going.

Eventually, they find some kind of machine. Allison sees blood on some corn in the machine. Corn falls away, and there’s their dead female friend. This makes Allison sad. Oh. And there’s the dude.

The next day, the sheriff shows up, and he and a deputy throw the dead bodies in the back of the sheriff’s truck. Here’s a question: How did they CALL the sheriff? Is the phone still working? If so, why did none of them call, say, their PARENTS or some other FRIENDS about a ride home?

The four teens (are they teens?) confront the sheriff, who accuses them of (I think) getting drunk and playing with farm equipment, which somehow ended with their two friends dead.

Rather than, say, arrest them for accidental death, or public intoxication, or squatting, he just demands they all get out of town on the 8 AM bus.

Of course, town is a mile away, and it’s really light outside, so I guess that means they get an extra day to bum around.

Or not. The guys start to walk away, and Allison says she’s staying. She wants to find out what’s up with her brother. Greg also wants to stay. Tyrus doesn’t, really.

But he hangs out anyway.

I’m sure we’re supposed to infer some sort of friendship dynamic here, but you got me what it is. I don’t know if he’s staying there for Allison, or if he’s staying there because Kir wants to stay (she doesn’t say anything).


The foursome walk to the other farm, and confront possessed kid. Allison says she wants to talk to her brother. Possessed kid says he brother doesn’t want to see her. She asks if they should get the police involved. The kid says no, and leads the way.

They go to the house. Allison heads in. The rest of them are blocked from entrance.

Greg feels uncomfortable, and decides to wander off so Tyrus and Kir can talk. Tyrus tells Kir it wasn’t just a one night stand for him. Kir says it was for her. Then she wanders off. Not forcefully, or with acting, or anything. More like she thought she saw a cute squirrel and wanted to check it out.

Possessed kid takes Allison to Enright. Enright says that the people in town think he’s nuts. But no. All that happened was, he found a baby left to die in the corn, and took the kid in and raised him as his own. Then his corn exploded, and the fire “guided” a bunch of lost, abused children to him. So that he could care for him and teach them to worship “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”

And with that, the movie abandons all pretense of having anything to do with any of the other movies. Just for a start, we have an adult leader. This guy should be mega-dead by now.

Allison says she wants to see her brother. Enright says to go ahead, as they have no secrets. The possessed kid, whose name is Ezekiel, is charged with taking Allison to Jacob.

Somewhere else, Greg wanders around alone. Never mind that they found their two friends, dead, like 12 hours ago.

He’s confronted by the killer kid, who has an axe. But he manages to walk away with all his bits intact.

Kir, meanwhile, goes to talk to another kid, named Zane. Zane says that he can tell Kir is hurting. Kir breaks down crying. So Zane starts the brainwashing process. Kir stops crying, and says she has to go back to her friends.

Inside the house, Allison talks to Jacob. She asks Ezekiel for privacy. He leaves. Allison tells Jacob happy birthday. His birthday is actually tomorrow. Oh, and dad is dead. Jacob says that this is his family now. And he’s got a wife. Enright chose her to bear Jacob’s child.

Allison asks if he loves his wife. He says yes.

There’s also a whole thing about how children are awesome, and at the age of 18 they enter the age of sin. He turns 18 tomorrow. Allison asks the obvious question: If over 18=evil, then is Enright evil?

Jacob is about to answer, when Ezekiel comes in and says Allison has to leave right now.

So she goes to leave. Jacob tells her to wait. He gives her a book, after writing something in it. He says it will help her to understand.

Allison leaves. All her friends are sitting around on the front steps. They go back to their squatting residence.

Kir reads them some of the book, and says it makes a lot of sense. Basically, kids are born pure, and their evil, tainted parents turn them evil.

Tyrus points out that two of their friends are dead, and he doesn’t want that to happen again, so he’s getting out of town. Kir says she’ll go with. Greg wants to stay behind, but Allison says she’ll figure something out, and tells him to go.

So the three of them head to the bus stop.

Allison starts reading the book, which basically starts with, “When you’re 18, you die.”

She finally looks at what her brother wrote. What is it? Doesn’t matter. All that matters is that there are four letters along the left-hand side that spell out “HELP.”

Allison freaks out. She gets ready to take action, only there’s the sheriff, in the house, reminding her that he wanted her on the bus.

At the bus stop, the three other friends hang out and look mopey. Well, except for Kir, who just looks kind of blank, still.

So, without discussing it, they head back to the house. Greg and Tyrus go in. Kir waits outside.

Inside, it’s already pretty dark, and Allison is gone.

Tyrus and Greg head outside, and find out Kir is gone as well. Amusingly, Tyrus blames the kids right off, and says, “First it was Allison, now it’s Kir.” Like it’s a big conspiracy. Allison could be in the bathroom, for all they know.

At the other farm, all the kids are standing by the still-on-fire corn silo. Ezekiel says some stuff, and tells Jacob to jump in the silo while his pregnant wife stands nearby. Jacob says he can’t do the jumping thing.

Jacob says he thought he was free to go whenever he wanted. Ezekiel tells him sure, but Jacob has nowhere to go. Jacob asks his “wife” to come with him, and she says that “this” is her family.

Then Jacob walks away.

Ezekiel asks for the next person who is going to be 18 to step up and take Jacob’s place. Kir is there, and she calls out that she’s going to be 18.

Uh… what now? She walked into a bar and ordered a beer. I’m pretty sure she’s in her 20s at least. (24, according to the IMDB.) Maybe she just didn’t understand the question. Up to this point, most things, including human emotion, have appeared to elude her.

Ezekiel asks why she wants to jump into the fire, and she basically says it’s her purpose. Also, she thinks Kurt is waiting for her there. Yeah. Sure. Perhaps she needs to learn a little more about how the cremation process works.

Jacob gets found by a couple kids, who beat him to a pulp.

Kir climbs up the silo, while the boys look up her super-short dress. It’s a great day for them. They get to see underpants, and they don’t have to jump into fire.

Kir climbs up, and looks down at the fire, which has a greenish glow to it. Bet you forgot about that. The green glow.

Kir jumps into the fire.

Jacob hangs by his arms in the barn. Ezekiel does some, “You done WRONG!” talking, and gives him a good stab in the leg with a knife. Apparently Jacob is going to be made into a scarecrow.

Ezekiel tells one of his thugs to cut Jacob’s throat and put Jacob in the cornfield. Ezekiel leaves. Jacob kicks the thug in the face, knocking the dude out, and frees himself from his ropes.

He passes out in the barn from stab wound pain.

Later than night, Allison, the sheriff, the deputy, and a fire truck show up. They say they have a warrant. The sheriff shoves Ezekiel out of the way and says he needs to talk to Enright.

Enright says that if they put out the fire, they will have to face “His” fury. The sheriff asks if Enright is threatening him. Enright says he’s trying to save the sheriff.

The fire people get their hose ready and prepare to wet that silo down. But instead, the fire sets the dude with the hose aflame. He screams. He falls. Another dude grabs a hose and gets ready to do some dousing.

He, too, gets set alight.

The sheriff pulls Enright out of his chair for “threatening an officer.” Enright starts to get freaked, and says, “It is out of my hands, now.”

Hey, remember when Ezekiel did that magic? I mean, he’s still in the room. Any reason he hasn’t gone all killer-y yet?

Enright’s head splits in half. A little worm shoots up his neck, and fires flames into the sheriff’s face, which burn a hole right through his head. Dude. Duuude.

Both the sheriff and Enright fall to the ground, dead. Ezekiel tells Allison not to feel bad for Enright. He’s been dead for years.

Allison accuses Ezekiel of… something. And Ezekiel says they all have skeletons in their closet, but he was able to put his “to good use.” As their leader.

And let’s talk for a minute, because logic has abandoned this movie.

Here are the various problems:

First: Why kill their two friends? I suppose you could argue that they were in the corn when they weren’t supposed to be, but if they’re trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves killing a couple of people really isn’t the way to do it.

Second: Why throw the doll at their friends? They really had no way to know that these four outsiders were an any way related to the first group.

Third: How long has that corn silo been burning? Because here’s what we know. “One year ago,” Ezekiel, for whom we have no history, walked into the corn field and was possessed by a green light in some corn. Then, one year later, he killed to the two farmers one farm over.

Then, a short while later, these other kids entered his life. And he corn exploded. Or…

Wait. It could go something like this: Ezekiel, a runaway kid, ends up in a corn field at night. He Who Walks Behind the Rows, in a form of a campfire, takes him over. A year passes. The fire is then somehow transferred to the corn silo. A bunch of kids are drawn to the farm, magically, by He Who Walks.

Okay, that all makes some sense. Except then there’s Jacob, who is just about to turn 18. He left home when he was 14, to join this particular cult.

Now, it could be argued that they’ve been there for three years, except one would think that at some point the folks in town would start to wonder why the silo had been burning for three years. Also, and more importantly, Jacob hasn’t done three years worth of aging. In the flick, I’d put his age at around 13, and that’s when heavy growth spurts start. So he should have grown somewhat in the intervening years.

Unless being possessed by He Who Walks makes you not age. Which would also sorta-kinda work, until you get to the end of the movie. So remember this, because I’ll come back to it.

Outside, the deputy hears something. He goes to check it out. One of the kids kills him.

Allison goes outside, carrying the sheriff’s shotgun. She shoots and kills one kid. Fends off another. Greg hits that kid in the head.

They run off. Tyrus is in the sheriff’s car, which has no keys. He wants to know where Kir is. The remaining kids run up, ready to do themselves some outsider-killin’.

The teens run. The kids chase. Everyone heads into the corn. The teens get out of the corn, and head into the barn. They find Jacob. Allison tells him this is all her fault. Jacob says no, Allison tried to protect him.

Allison asks if Jacob knew about Ezekiel and all the killings. Jacob doesn’t say anything. He tells her they can fight fire with fire. He mentions to storage shed. Then he dies.

Greg and Tyrus find their friend’s car. It won’t start. Greg looks under the hood. Outside, some of the children of the corn realize the teens are in the barn.

Elsewhere (how big is this barn?) Allison wanders around with a flashlight (how did she find it?). She locates fertilizer.

One of the kids outside tries to chop his way into the barn. Tyrus fights him off with a chainsaw.

Tyrus gets attacked (and killed) from behind. The kid picks up the chainsaw and goes after Allison.

Allison runs up to the second level of the barn, hits the kid with a board, and knocks him off the second level and onto some kind of farming thing with lots of sharp points.

Elsewhere in the barn, Greg is lying under the car, trying to fix it. Somehow. He sees shoes on both sides of the car. Two kids come down, one of either side. One has a drill. The other one has a blowtorch.

Greg grabs the torch out of the one kid’s hand, and gets a drill in the leg. He pulls the gas line out of the car, and lights it up with the torch. His final line? “I got your eternal flame right here.”

The barn goes boom. Allison is thrown out of the barn. She goes to get the fertilizer.

In the house, Ezekiel talks to all the kids about how it’s time to get while the getting is good, and join He Who Walks Behind the Rows in a better place.

The kids head outside, where they find Allison climbing up the ladder to the silo, fertilizer in hand. They just stand there, watching and wondering how this tiny chick is carrying 50 pounds of fertilizer up a rickety wooden ladder. She gets up to the top, opens the silo doors, and gets ready to toss the fertilizer in.

Ezekiel attacks her with a metal hook. They grapple. Allison gets the hook, hooks Ezekiel, and throws Ezekiel into the fire. He yells out, “My precious!”

Okay, not really.

Allison throws in the fertilizer. She closes the silo doors. The fire goes “boom,” and she gets knocked off the platform. She grabs the side, and dangles for, like, a second. Then she pulls herself up.

She opens the silo doors. The fire is out.

She goes down the ladder, and finds all the kids on the bottom. Her brother’s baby mama asks if Ezekiel joined He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Another girl asks if they can go. Allison says, “He might have,” and “I don’t think it’s your time yet.”

She and the kids walk away from the silo.

Some time later: Allison rings a doorbell, and a man lets her in. She gets to meet her nephew. Turns out the mom’s name is Lilly. They’re giving the baby to Allison, because Lilly is, you know, a kid. And adoption works that way. (In the movie world.)

The family leaves so that Allison and the kid can get to know each other. Allison sings “Hush Little Baby” to the kid. And we move in his eyes. What’s coming? Come on. You’re a smart one.

Right. Green flames. Kid is totally being possessed. Which means, if we try to follow the timeline of this movie properly, that he will never age. Which should make part six pretty cool, as all the kids try to follow the will of a child incapable of speech.

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