Film / Children of the Corn (1984)

Vicky: What do you want?
Malachai: We want to give you peace.

The first full-length film adaptation of the Stephen King short story of the same name from his Night Shift collection.

A couple driving through Nebraska find themselves in Gatlin, a town in which the entire adult population has been killed by its children, who worship an entity known as He Who Walks Behind The Rows.

"Outlander! We have your examples!"

  • Adaptation Expansion: The film shows the death of Gatlin's adults as prologue, and the story continues beyond Vicky's crucifixion.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Not necessarily a heroic example, but the film versions of Burt and Vicky (who are driving cross-country to Burt's new job) are a lot more sympathetic than their short story counterparts (who are driving to get marriage counseling and spend most of the story bickering).
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the original short story Burt looks in the ledger that lists the names of the children in First Name Last Name (Alternate First Name). No real proof is made on if the Alternate name is their birth name before change or not, but it is the implication. As Eve and Adam don't have alternate names listed. Thus the main two characters real full names are listed as Isaac Renfrew (William) and Malachi Boardman (Craig) respectively.
  • Arcade Sounds: Malachai plays a 1981 solid state Medusa pinball, but it has electro-mechanical sounds dubbed over it.
  • Big Bad: Isaac, the Dark Messiah leader of the children.
  • Bigger Bad: He Who Walks Behind The Rows.
  • Chain Pain: One of the children carries a chain. Later, Malachai takes it from him when he is fighting Burt.
  • Creepy Child: The eponymous children.
  • Culture Police: Music and games are outlawed among the children.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: One of the children provide one last scare in the film by attacking Burt from the back of his car.
  • The Dragon: Malachai is Isaac's most ardent follower, and is also the one relaying orders to other children.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Diehl's dog Sarge senses the children hiding in the corn nearby, and goes after them. He is killed.
  • Evilis Hammy: Isaac, of course.
  • Evil Redhead: Malachai.
  • Going in Circles: When Burt and Vicky try to drive into Hemingford as instructed by Diehl, they end up going in circles and are forced to enter Gatlin.
  • Human Sacrifice: Children who reach the age of 19 are prepared and sacrificed to He Who Walks Behind The Rows.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Used, like with other Stephen King adaptations.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Joseph, who tries to escape Gatlin, is punished with death.
  • Kill It with Fire: He Who Walks Behind The Rows is destroyed when the cornfields sustaining it are burned down.
  • Knife Nut: Malachai and plenty of other children are armed with knives.
  • Large Ham: Isaac.
  • Lost in the Maize: Joseph tries to escape Gatlin by going through the surrounding cornfields, but he is chased down and throat-slitted by Malachai.
  • Narrator: Job acts as a narrator for the film.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: The opening credits are superimposed on pictures of the Gatlin massacre that were drawn by Sarah, with Creepy Children Singing in the background.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Plays in the background when the children kill Diehl the gas-station owner.
  • Religious Horror: The children practice a murderous, pseudo-Christian Religion of Evil.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: All of the children are named after Old Testament figures (Job, Sarah, Isaac, Malachai, etc.)
  • Self-Made Orphan: The children.
  • Shaming the Mob: How Burt ultimately convinces the children to rebel against He Who Walks Behind The Rows.
  • Sinister Scythe: Some of the children are armed with sickles and scythes.
  • Something That Begins with "Boring": As Burt and Vicky pass rows and rows of corn, Burt jokingly starts playing the "I spy" game.
    Burt: I spy, with my lttle eye, something that starts with C.
    Vicky: Corn.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Both Burt and Vicky died in the original short story.
  • The Starscream: Malachai decides that Isaac doesn't follow He Who Walks Behind The Rows properly (read: doesn't kill everything outright like he does), and takes over.
  • Southern Gothic: A rare West Coast example with an Amish feel; however, the decay, staring unnatural inhabitants, and eerie isolation are still present.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: The massacre of adults in Gatlin began when some of the customers at Hansen's diner started dying from their poisoned coffee.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Closest adult to Gatlin is the gas-station owner Diehl, and even he bites it thanks to Malachai's zealousness.
  • Tentacle Rope: The cornfield itself comes alive to tie down Burt as he tries to burn it.
  • Ultimate Evil: He Who Walks Behind The Rows is never properly shown.
  • Wormsign: He Who Walks Behind The Rows appears to claim his sacrifice as a shape travelling underground.
  • Would Hurt a Child: While Burt wouldn't go as far kill any of the children, he has no qualms about punching them out cold.