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Lost in the Maize

"He began to walk in that direction, not having to bull through the corn any more. The row was taking him in the direction he wanted to go, naturally. The row ended up ahead. Ended? No, emptied out into some sort of clearing..."

There's just something about a field of corn that spells creepy. Maybe it's the fact that corn stalks grow very tall and seem to go on endlessly, preventing anyone who happens to be wandering among them from seeing more than a few feet ahead at a time. Also, each stalk looks exactly the same, so good luck finding your way out. Combined with the fact that they are only found in rural areas, this means that you could be out in the middle of nowhere and no one would see you disappear, or even be around to hear you scream on the off chance that you are not alone.

If characters find themselves in a cornfield, they will almost always get lost. Frantic chases through cornfields are popular in the Horror genre, and double points if it happens to be at night.

Note that despite the trope name, scenes like this don't necessarily have to involve corn. Long grass is also popular, especially in wilderness settings, and this trope can apply to other kinds of vegetation where it's hard to see anything below neck level.

This is also the place to find Scary Scarecrows. Or Crop Circles.

Examples

Art
  • The above painting, "Cornfield with Crows", is generally agreed to be the last thing Vincent van Gogh painted before he killed himself.

Comics
  • In an issue of The Maze Agency comic book, a murder is committed in a cornfield maze and the body strung up as scarecrow to hide it.
  • A villain in the Hack/Slash miniseries My First Maniac used a cornfield (formerly belonging to a farmer he killed) as a hunting ground, having turned it into a deadly maze. It's full of traps and surrounded by barbed wire, and nails through the stalks that rip into anyone who tries to just run through them.

Film
  • Subverted in Field of Dreams, in that the Iowa cornfield is supernatural and mysterious, but it's awe-inspiring, not scary.
  • There's a scene involving a chase through a cornfield in the movie version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
  • Signs: the priest lives next to a very creepy cornfield; he ends up being chased through it at night.
  • The X-Files: Fight the Future, with the bees in cornfields...
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park uses the tall grass variant. Doesn't make much of a difference, though, 'cuz everyone knows that Everything's Scarier with Velociraptors!
  • The crop-duster attack in North by Northwest takes place in and around a cornfield.
  • In Forrest Gump, as a little girl, Jenny runs into the cornfield behind their house to hide from her drunken abusive father ("Dear God, make me a bird, so I can fly far, far, far away from here").
  • Also, the scene in the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde, where Bonnie runs away through one because she misses her momma.
  • The cornfield rave massacre in Freddy vs. Jason.
  • In 2010, a horror movie all about murders in a corn maze (at night!), creatively called The Maze was released. Though in actuality, viewers probably do see more corn than murder.
  • Cry Baby Lane has this in the climax.
  • The Mummy Returns has a scene where a bunch of mooks are ambushed and killed by pygmy zombies in waist-high plant life.
  • In The 12 Disasters Of Christmas, two teenage girls flee from a tornado through an orchard of Christmas trees.
  • In Casino, Nicky and his brother are lured to a meeting in a cornfield where they are brutally beaten and then buried alive.
  • In Cold Mountain, after deserting the Confederate army, Inman is on a road through a cornfield when a group of fugitive slaves emerges from the corn near him. He tries to buy an egg from them, but they ignore him and move silently down the road until they're hidden by a clump of trees. Inman keeps walking and then hears screams and gunshots coming from the trees, forcing him to make a panicked dash into the corn. The eerie thing is the sunny, serene tone of the scene, with several idyllic-looking shots of the trees and cornfield undisturbed by what's happening to the characters.

Literature
  • The Goosebumps book The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight has this, naturally.
  • In Dorothy Canfield Fisher's short story "Sex Education" a town preacher lurks in a cornfield waiting to jump and rape any young girl dumb enough to wander nearby. It's heavily implied by the female characters that a number of other men in their town have similarly questionable hobbies, also involving young girls and cornfields.
  • Averted in Reaper Man, where the term "corn" actually refers to wheat. This doesn't stop many American readers from getting a mental image of Death toiling in a creepy cornfield when they read this Discworld novel.
  • In The Lovely Bones, Susie is cutting through a cornfield on her way home from school when a neighbor lures her into a secret underground room, rapes her and kills her.
  • The Jerome Bixby short story "It's a Good Life", where the Reality Warper Anthony Fremont literally buries people who do anything he doesn't like in the cornfield behind his family's home. Served as the basis for a memorable The Twilight Zone episode.
  • Stephen King's short story Children of the Corn served as loose inspiration for an endless string of movies which are probably the example that a lot of people remember, and contributes a great deal to cornfields being associated with creepiness. The page quote above, from the original story, gives an example.
    • In King's novel The Stand, a number of characters dream about being chased through a cornfield by the Dark Man.

Live-Action TV
  • The series finale of Carnivāle has the climax take place in a cornfield, with Brother Justin chasing after Ben with a scythe, no less.
  • An episode of The Middle had the teenaged son lose his little brother in a cornfield maze, and he kept running into the creepy caretaker who told him about how he had lost his own little brother in a cornfield all those years ago.
  • The Criminal Minds episode "Middle Man", and the end of "The Big Game".
  • This eerie sketch from Human Giant exemplifies the mystique of the Corn Maze.
  • The Bones episode "Mummy in the Maze".

Music

Video Games
  • There was a field in Fallout 2 where some guys would scare intruders through ghostly images to keep them away. I think it was a corn field...
  • The fourth campaign of Left 4 Dead has a "crescendo event" (scripted horde sequence) in a corn field in the last level.
    • The sequel has a section set in a field of sugar cane. Not only that, you have to go through it in the middle of a howling storm, so while the sugar cuts your vision to a few feet, the storm cuts your hearing.
  • Never touch the cornfields in MediEvil. You'll die very quickly. We're probably lucky they don't show what kills you...
  • In the horror Adventure Game Sanitarium, there's a creepy pumpkin patch in one chapter that fits this trope.
  • There is exactly one frightening scene in Land Of The Dead Road To Fiddlers Green and it involves having to run through a cornfield as you hear zombies crashing around you unseen.
  • In Batman Doom, one such maze pops up near the beginning of the level with the Scarecrow boss fight. It's full of gangsters and even spotting the passages is a problem (the automap helps). Once you're past this part, the rest of the level is thankfully free of confusing view-obfuscating maize.

Webcomics
  • The Halloween-themed Skin Deep story "The One-Eyed Bear" centers around a road trip to an annual haunted corn maze attraction in Verona, MO referred to, appropriately enough, as The MAiZE. (See Real Life, below.) In keeping with getting lost, they stumble onto the attraction while fleeing from a nightmare and a demon, only to be menaced by a hockey-mask-wearing, chainsaw wielding maniac who is actually both a performer in the haunted maze and a bugbear in human guise.

Western Animation
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer once got lost in a corn maze.
  • The Tick had villainous sunflowerman El Seed raise an army out of an evil cornfield maze.
  • Johnny Bravo, in its episode "Johnny, Real Good" (a parody of It's A Good Life) has this as one of the torments that the Reality Warper boy inflicts upon Johnny: teleportation to an actual cornfield (not really that horrible, but still a minor annoyance for Johnny who has to walk back home), which becomes a Running Gag. At the end of the episode, he teleports sleeping Johnny in his bed onto a lonely island—covered with maize.
  • Fillmore!!: "Two Wheels, Full Throttle, No Brakes". Of course X Middle School has its own corn maze. Why wouldn't it?
    • "The corn! IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME!"

Real Life
  • Actual cornfield mazes are built in real life as attractions, and often give people the chance to go through them at night. Occasionally the cornfields are 'haunted' by people dressed in costume.
  • After the crash of United Airlines Flight 232, many of the surviving passengers got lost in the cornfields next to the airport.
  • Averted in previous centuries, when corn hadn't yet been selectively bred to stand taller than a human. At least one Civil War battle's events had to be re-examined by historians when it was pointed out that corn grew only waist-high in the 1860s, hence couldn't have provided concealment to standing soldiers.
  • Could become a Forgotten Trope as modern farming techniques plant corn too densely for a human to walk through.

Losing Your HeadJust for PunLost Will And Testament
The Lost LenoreImageSource/ArtLove Floats
Losing Your HeadHorror TropesMade from Real Girl Scouts

alternative title(s): Creepy Cornfield; Corn Maze
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