“Gore Fans Should Dig It.” – Variety
That is the sole quote that adorns the sleeve of the US DVD for Children of the Corn 2: The Final Sacrifice (1993.) Above the title on the front cover is the heading “From The Producer Of Hellraiser 3” which I assume is intended to serve as an inducement for consumers to purchase the product. The Doctor isn’t sure that anyone who sees such an inducement will actually say “You mean the guy who produced Hellraiser 3 made this? Damnation, I’m buying two copies!” However, when this potential “selling point” is combined with the above Variety attestation one can form a reasonable idea of what the Children of the Corn 2 viewing experience is all about. You have been forewarned.
“I SAW THE CORN.”
Eight years have passed since the children of Gatlin, Nebraska fell under the spell of the supernatural presence in the cornfield known as He Who Walks Behind The Rows. The children then subsequently murdered all of the adults in town before they were thwarted by Peter Horton of Thirtysomething fame and a Terminator-era Linda Hamilton. The sequel to the 80’s horror classic Children of the Corn begins with the discovery of the corpses of the Gatlin adults by the people from the neighboring town of Hemingford. The corpses, in various stages of decay and putrefaction, have been kept in a musty basement of what appears to be the town feed store. How or why it has taken eight years for this discovery to come about is unanswered. As a person who often performs methodical research, I found this lack of detail to be troubling. However, as an unashamed fan of horror movies, The Doctor knows that seemingly insignificant details can bog down a narrative, particularly when that narrative happens to be the story of Children of the Corn 2. The citizenry of Hemingford agrees to provide foster care for the surviving children of Gatlin so that they will at least temporarily have a home. You read that correctly; these hayseeds actually take in the conniving, murdering little wretches. Does anyone remember those Saturday Night Live comedy sketches for Bad Idea Jeans? We are informed that the ringleaders responsible for the killing are gone and that those left were innocent bystanders, but this adoptive act, while beneficent on the surface, can only be characterized as a grievous failure in judgement. (Or maybe Grave-ous failure in judgement? The Doctor is not above engaging in bad punnery.)
It is shortly revealed that He Who Walks Behind The Rows has only been lying dormant lo these many years. The Doctor was once derisively referred to as He Who Snores Behind The Rows when I fell asleep in the back of a lecture hall during a seminar on anatomy. I made no apologies for the incident; when you are in Lawrence, Kansas you paint the town red and you don’t worry yourself with something as silly as an early bedtime.
Our reluctant hero is John Garrett, played by veteran actor Terence Knox. Garrett is a journalist fallen on hard times who now works for a tabloid newspaper. Rushing to Gatlin and then Hemingford to get the scoop for the rag that employs him, he is accompanied by his estranged teenage son Danny (Paul Scherrer, no imdb credits after an episode of JAG in 2001) who makes it painfully clear that he would rather be anywhere else. Danny decides to take a powder after another argument with his father but on his way to the bus station he runs into local girl Lacey Hellerstat, played by Christie Clark of Days Of Our Lives fame. His desire to get away from his dad is thusly overwhelmed by the raging hormones in his pants, a biological condition that has afflicted young men since Helen of Troy sent the Greek warriors across the Aegean Sea.
One of the rescued Gatlin children is staying in the same Hemingford bed and breakfast with the Garretts. His name is Micah, and he is played with chilling effect by a young actor named Ryan Bollman. Young Micah wanders into the cornfield after dark to try and find his friends, only he becomes possessed by He Who Walks Behind The Rows and takes leadership of the Gatlin children. It’s time for the killing spree to begin anew and this time it is the adults of Hemingford who will suffer. One cannot help but think that the Hemingford gentry brought this catastrophe on themselves.
Using their otherworldly powers bestowed upon them by He Who Walks Behind The Rows, the Gatlin children, under the aegis of Micah, begin dispatching the Hemingford adults in gruesome fashion. The deaths involve the use of a cornfield voodoo doll that leads to a case of projectile nosebleed, the crushing of a poor old lady underneath her house and a hilarious scene involving a motorized wheelchair, a semi-truck and a Sunday bingo game. The original film was actually scary; John Franklin’s Isaac and his cohort Malachi, played with aplomb by the one and only Courtney Gains, are truly frightening. The sequel plays things fairly similar but there is definitely an element of horror-comedy that would become a staple of horror films released in the following years.
While the Gatlin children are wreaking havoc and while Danny is attempting to use the tired bad-boy-whose-dad-misunderstands-me act to worm his way into Lacey’s 1990’s-style jean shorts, John Garrett does some sleuthing in and about town. While traipsing through the local elementary school, a haunting and destitute place that looks as if it were transplanted from somewhere near Chernobyl, Garrett comes across Professor Frank Redbear (Ned Romero), a completely racist stereotype of a modern Native American. The wise and witty Redbear becomes an unlikely ally in John Garrett’s quest to find out just what in the hell is going here in rural Nebraska.
Garrett himself is not so preoccupied with the events that he doesn’t have time for some perspiration soaked lovemaking with the attractive proprietor of the bed and breakfast. Seriously, he looks like someone dumped a bucket of water over him as he sins most vigorously.
Deviating from the supernatural bent, a plotline is introduced suggesting that perhaps the civilians of Hemingford aren’t so innocent after all. Is it possible that they have been using a dangerous and illegal toxin on their corn crop, the noxious poison of which has had an adverse effect on the minds of the local children? Or is this just a nonsensical plot device to turn our attentions away, however briefly, from the terrifying power of He Who Walks Behind The Rows? Suffice it to say that at least some of the people of Hemingford are up to no good, and now they are reaping that which they have sown.
This movie is really more funny than scary. It was not, however, the “Final Sacrifice” as there would be at least five more Children of the Corn sequels that I am aware of. Still, it’s worth checking out if you need a few whimsical laughs or are overwhelmed with the nostalgic desire to revisit what passed for horror films in the early 1990’s.
Lastly, as a man of medicine, I am always troubled by health hazards and the lack of common sense often employed when dealing with the same. I certainly would not attempt to reproduce the rules for surviving a horror movie as done by Jamie Kennedy in the first entry in the Scream franchise; such rules have become kitsch and clichéd and even made fun of at this point. As a professional, I was able to jot down some notes – in the context of the film – that might make for good health advisories. Seeing as how fans of the TNCC are probably interested in drink and cigars, I imagine that these advisories would be doubly beneficial for you. These pointers come from one scene in particular. They will make more sense after watching the film but, even if you decide not to, I think that you can take something from my advice in a general sense. In order, here is some free advice on healthy living from The Doctor, gleaned after a careful viewing of Children of the Corn 2:
1.) Moving to a new location can be stressful and fraught with difficulty. It is imperative, however, that you do not attempt to actually move your house with you by employing some sort of hydraulic system to raise it off of the ground. This will undoubtedly prove costly and it raises, at least for me, several health concerns. Sell your house, then take the proceeds and purchase a new domicile.
2.) Revisit advisory #1 until the logic of it becomes infallible.
3.) If by some misfortune of the cosmos you are forced to dwell in a house that has been raised one yard above the ground on a rudimentary hydraulic system, you should take your house pets to the home of a willing and trusted friend or neighbor until such time as you can vacate the premises.
4.) Should an overwhelming maternal instinct make it impossible for you to separate yourself from your pets, and they cannot be confined to either a birdcage or a fish tank, make sure that your pets are kept inside at all hours and that all of your doors and windows are locked. Unless, of course, you have cagier and stealthier pets than the average house cat such as a ferret or a serpent.
5.) If you have failed to heed the first four health advisories and you are faced with the following set of extraordinarily heightened circumstances:
A. your cat goes under your raised house and will not come out
B. you have reason to believe that the local children have fallen under the spell of some demonic corn deity and become murderous in the process
C. a group of the aforementioned children are standing in a cluster in your front yard and looking menacingly upon your house
THEN YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY DEPART THE AREA, TAKING NOTHING WITH YOU, AND THAT INCLUDES THE STUPID FUCKING CAT.
I hope that this was helpful. As always, The Doctor wishes you all a clean bill of health.