Children of the corn 666 is actually one I’d been anticipating, mostly because it features the return of the actor who played Isaac in the first film. The return of an old villain always generates buzz and excitement. The problem is, it’s also usually a desperate move to salvage a failing franchise. Seriously, think back over different franchises and tell me when this has ever worked? It’s not like Phantasm or Nightmare on Elm Street or Hellraiser where the same actor is portraying the villain consistently through pretty much the entire series. Think of house 4 – with the return of William Katt. Think pumpkinhead 3 with the return of Lance Henriksen. This sort of thing generally does not bode well.
I also can’t help note the tagline on the poster is “latest and most horrifying chapter”. This is almost the exact same tag line that they used on Hellraiser; Hellworld, and seem to be a variant of the same thing dimension was slapping on all of their late series direct to video sequels at the time. I also can’t help but note that this one was released in 1999 – a mere year after children of the corn five. Until then we had a pretty consistent gap of 2 to 3 years between sequels. They were putting them out regularly but this short gap tells me they probably filmed five and six back to back and then staggered the release. Children of the Corn 666 is the story of Isaac, the preacher kid from the first movie waking up from his coma just in time for our ingénue to roll into town. Somewhere around the third act he begins to gather the grown-up grandchildren and try and rebuild his cult.
The big problem with this entry, is it takes itself so seriously. Every frame is dire, and none of it is earned. The budget limitations are also on full display – we don’t get near the amount of blood and gore that we’ve seen in previous entries – one bloody corpse dripping and hanging from a tree nonwithstanding. They make do with the only real special fact that they have – namely the ingénue in her underwear – and there are plenty of shots of that. I also find myself still missing the creepy and countrified current children – again we got a group of people in very modern clothes, presumably because period costumes cost too much.
I must say though, Isaac has a genuinely good performance here. If you were ever to try and build a single villain into this franchise, he would have been the one. I think by the time we hit the sixth entry though, that ship has sailed. It’s a delight to see Nancy Allen show up here as well – she is as beautiful as ever, it’s like she never ages. Still, there is not enough her for me to recommend seeing this movie, and even the attempt at a twist (I say attempt because I think everybody saw this coming with in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film) around the 50 minute mark falls extremely flat.
That’s the problem with children of the corn 666 – it’s not a bad movie, it commits a far greater sin; It’s just boring. I’m disappointed too, because there is actually potential here… There is a grain of a good story embedded in this – I can see the potential. Sadly, children of the corn 666 simply fails to achieve that potential. This one is a definite skip.
Children of the corn five – right off the bat i’m pretty sure in trouble when I see the title is “fields of terror “and see that Alexis Arquette is starring. The director is confident to, his name is first on the billing. Seeing Fred Williamson and David Carridine billed towards the end give me a little bit more hope and I actually do usually enjoy Eva Mendez, but not getting my hopes up considering how uninspired the opening is. Perhaps I’m being overly critical considering my love for the previous entry but man, Ethan Wiley has his work cut out for him here and I don’t think this little Elliot-from-ET looking kid walking towards the green screen is gonna pull it off. I want blood to kick this thing off, not lasers and lightning and adobe after affects. The kids look too non-descript, and I’m only 10 minutes out. Our corn children this time around dress and very contemporary clothing – and this detracts from the creepiness. It’s not just enough to have a shadowy kid pick up a scythe to make it scary. Thankfully we do seem to be at the tail end of the 90s, so the embargo on blood and gore seems to be lifting. The kills aren’t particularly original, but they are visceral.
The clothes are only part of it – our protagonists talk about how bad the town smells, they try and make a point of describing how boring the place is. That’s funny, considering it’s a farming community, and everything looks so clean and crisp. The clothing is too nice and trendy – it just doesn’t fit the narrative. Equally out of place is David Carridine’s cameo as the leader of this cult – it’s the first time we seen an adult that seems to be the head of our corn children and it feels very out of place.
I have to admit though, it passes the watch test. It moves right along at a good steady pace and never really drops my interest. I don’t know if there was some mandate that directed them to keep all of these films under 90 minutes, but really is to their benefit at this things are so short. There is a clumsy attempt to expand on the mythology of he who walks behind the rows. But it seems more thrown in for styles sake rather than story and is gone too quickly, failing to impact the mythology at all.
I got to admit, I wonder if I’m being too hard on this – it’s not necessarily a bad film, indeed it’s better than number three but that’s setting the bar pretty low and leaves this one pretty mediocre. At the end of the day, this is a very by the numbers sequel. A group of strangers blunder into the town – discover corn children, and murder ensues. It might be alright if you’re just looking for more of the same with a snazzier wardrobe, and I probably won’t change the channel if they were running this on the Syfy channel.
Here’s a suggestion if you’re not inclined to skip this one (and I don’t necessarily think you should – especially if you dig some blood and gore); don’t go and order. Put this one on after three – but before you go to four. You’ll better appreciate the Hammer’s solid performance and Eva Mendez charms as you watch the series gradual rebound from three.