Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest
children of the corn | children of the corn iii: urban harvest | sequel | james d.r. hickox | dode b. levenson | daniel cerny | ron melendez | jim metzler | cult | based on | stephen king | monster | creature | scarecrow | thriller | united states | nancy lee grahn
Film: Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest
Director: James D.R. Hickox
Writer: Dode B. Levenson
Starring: Daniel Cerny, Ron Melendez and Jim Metzler
Coming in to check this film out this time, I was a little excited and a little nervous. I have a lot of nostalgia for this film as I remember my dad bringing home the rented VHS. My sister and I used to watch this film all of the time, as it always seemed to be on the movie channels back in the day. I remember the older I got and watching this, thinking that it wasn’t great. Before actually getting into all of that, the synopsis is two brothers connected to the murderous children’s cult of Gatlin, Nebraska are taken to Chicago by an adoptive couple.
The film starts in Gaitlin. We see a sign for it and the cornfields. We get a teenage boy fleeing from a trailer. He is Joshua Porter (Ron Melendez) and he is running from his drunk father into the cornfield. He comes to a scarecrow where his adopted brother, Eli (Daniel Cerny), appears from behind it. He tells Josh to run and that the father will not hit him. This sequel embraces the supernatural aspect. The father is punished by becoming a scarecrow by vines from the corn. His eyes and mouth are sealed up.
The boys are taken in by a family in Chicago. The father is William (Jim Metzler) and his wife, Amanda (Nancy Lee Grahn). They are little nervous about it, but they still are willing. William takes a liking to Eli immediately. He is a commodities trader and Eli has brought some corn with him. William is impressed by it. Josh gets off on the wrong foot with him though by breaking a glass sculpture and meeting the neighbors without consulting William first. Amanda does take a liking to him though as he comes off as more normal.
Josh actually fits in at school much easier. He befriends the brother and sister that are his neighbors. Malcolm Elkman (Jon Clair) becomes his best friend and he’s interested in Maria (Mari Morrow). Eli is sticking to that he only needs his brother and he becomes upset when he sees him trying to fit in. He also butts head with principal, Father Frank Nolan (Michael Ensign).
That first night, Eli takes his suitcase that is full of corn to the abandoned warehouse next door. He starts a prayer that turns one of the cobs black. He uses the kernels from it to plant rows of corn. Amanda sees Eli coming back from there. She also sees what he is up to and tells her husband. When he actually checks it out, he is impressed and wants to sell it. With how quickly it grows and how great it looks, he could make a fortune. Eli is on board for this, for a completely different reason.
The social worker receives from information that is quite troubling about Eli. She tries to reach out, but he kills her. The information was sent out before she dies and Josh signs for it. As Eli starts to turn the students around to this new cult, I thought this was a good touch. Eli is similar to the leaders of the cult in the previous films and somewhat charismatic. The one thing I didn’t like though was there is an adult teacher with the odd cross around his neck like the children. As an adult, they wouldn’t let him in. I did have some issues with this reveal. I didn’t mind Eli being one of the children that survived from both films, but he comes off as a leader, which he wasn’t. The mythology changes here a bit like this happens periodically throughout history which is something new that didn’t really fit.
Something else that struck me from this viewing was that it doesn’t feel like a Children of the Corn film, but there is so much ingrained into it; it would be hard to say that this wasn’t written for the series. I did like that they referenced the other films through nightmares that Father Nolan has, but this is a cheap thing to do.
I do have to say that I think the film is paced very well. We get right into why they come to Chicago and supernatural things happen early on. I do think that Eli’s rise to power moves at a good pace. It actually takes some time, but during this we see Josh acclimating. If anything, this is what pushes Eli to do the things that he does. The ending does get a little bit cheesy though on what happens. This also incorporates something that never happened in other films. I do think they are trying to say this could be the representation of ‘He Who Walks Behind the Rows’. If this was the last film in the series, I would have said this could have been a decent way to end it. It is just an issue with this again introduces new mythology.
The acting for this film is decent. Cerny was in a lot of horror films from the era, so I grew up watching him and he always seemed to play the villain. He has a good look for it. I do think he is charismatic as the cult leader as well. I thought he was good overall for the film. Melendez I thought was a little bit flat. I like that he tries to assimilate to this new area and that was good. I just didn’t get the emotions I think he would have in some situations. I thought Metzler and Grahn were good as the parents. The only thing I didn’t buy was I thought Metzler would have showed a little more grief than we get. There is very little actually. The rest of the cast I thought round the film out well. Ensign being one of the bright spots as the priest who is sticking to his religion in defiance of what Cerny is spreading. It is also interesting to see a young Ivana Milicevic and Charlize Theron in the film.
Something else that was hit or miss for me in the film was the effects. I thought there were some that were really good, like the death of Josh’s father as he becomes a scarecrow. A statue coming to life also looked really good and the death of Grahn to name a few. The film does turn into Super Mario with fireballs being flung and it doesn’t look good. I also hated the change of the father into a different looking scarecrow, because it is no longer scary when it does. The monster at the end I also was a bit cheesy, but looks better than a lot of effects in films from the era too. I’m in the middle here as we get good and bad.
The score for the film really didn’t stand out to me either. We do get some of the chanting we got in the previous film of the series and I thought that was good. It gives it a creepy vibe. The rest of it did fit the scenes as it doesn’t take me out of it. Overall I’d say that is decent.
Now with that said, this film I think is one of the better sequels to the original classic. This one does do some different things that I like, for example bringing it to the big city. I don’t like that it changes the mythology a little too much. It has this weird feel where it doesn’t seem like it fits in the series, but there are so many references, it is hard to see how it couldn’t have been planned this way. I think they are good aspects to the story, but a lot of new mythology that violates the previous films. The acting I thought was decent with Cerny being the best. The effects have some good and some that are not so good. The score was also decent with the chanting making it feel creepy. Overall I’d say this film is quite average.
My Rating: 5 out of 10