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Film / Children of the Corn

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Children of the Corn started out with a 1984 horror film based upon the 1977 short story of the same name by Stephen King (collected in Night Shift). Set in the fictional rural town of Gatlin, Nebraska, the film told the story of a demonic entity referred to as "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" which entices the children of the town to ritualistically murder all the adults to ensure a successful corn harvest.

The film was harbinger for a many sequel to come.

The film series consists of:

Children of the Corn contains examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: An entire towns worth of adults were overwhelmed by an army of children and teens. It's only speculated by Burt in the story, but the beginning of the massacare is shown in the 1984 movie. Somewhat justified in that they had the supernatural backup of He Who Walks Behind The Rows, but he only personally dealt with Gatlin's police chief and minister.
  • Alliance with an Abomination: How it all started. The children, through Isaac, became worshipers to He Who Walks Behind the Rows and killed all the adults.
  • Antagonist Title: Referring to the corn-worshipping psycho cult of kiddos.
  • Awful Wedded Life: In the story, Burt and Vicky do almost nothing but fight the entire time, and they were on the trip in the first place in the hopes of fixing their failing marriage.
  • Big Bad: He Who Walks Behind the Rows is always the one influencing the various iterations of the cult.
  • Canon Welding: The Stand implies He Who Walks Behind The Rows is Randall Flagg, a Stephen King villain from The Stand and the Dark Tower series. This is never mentioned in the short story or any of the adaptations.
  • Covers Always Lie: Print versions of the short story usually have covers based on the film, where the kids wore normal, if conservative clothes. In the actual short story, they're described as wearing clothes like Amish or Quakers.
  • Creepy Child: In the story, original movie, and remake, there's an entire town full of them. In most of the sequels, it starts out with one preaching the gospel of He Who Walks Behind The Rows.
  • Dark Messiah: All but one films features a preaching kid/teen acting as a leader to the other children.
  • Direct-to-DVD: Fourth film and onwards.
  • Downer Ending: The original short story had both Burt and Vicky sacrificed to He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Happens again in the remake, since it's a direct adaptation of the story.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: He Who Walks Behind The Rows communicates to his worshippers through the dreams of a chosen prophet.
  • Eldritch Abomination: He Who Walks Behind The Rows, possibly. It's implied that this is actually Randall Flagg, who, throughout King's various works, shares more than a few traits with Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos.
  • Evil Luddite: Gatlin mostly abandons technology after the cult taker over, though it's strangely inconsistent; in the 1984 movie, they use fuel for something, which is the reason the gas station owner was originally left alive, while in the short story, Burt and Vicky hear a religious sermon on their car radio heavily implied to be from Gatlin even though there's no one else around who could possibly hear it.
  • Ghost Town: Some of the movies are set in towns where most of the adults have been killed off, with the remaining adults living in fear of the children and keeping to their own.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Burt theorizes that this may have been the origin of the cult once he begins piecing together what happened in Gatlin, due to the extreme isolation of the town. He's wrong, the source of the cult is supernatural.
  • Gorn: Urban Harvest has several weird, gross deaths, while the remake has a number of excessively brutal ones.
  • Lost in the Maize: Gatlin is surrounded by seemingly endless cornfields, which serve as the domain of He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Anyone who enters them anywhere near the town effectively find themselves in an endless maze under His control.
  • Meaningful Name: In the original short story, Burt finds the ledger in the Gatlin church. All of the older children are listed with a first/last name and another first name behind it, implying they all changed their birth names to Old Testament names. Newer children are given them from birth. The first two are named Adam and Eve (ironically, Eve came first this time).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: All the leaders of children and and their right hand men have Biblical names. In the book, all of them have these names, the older children having changed theirs after the massacre of the adults.
  • Self-Made Orphan: In all versions of the story, it begins with Gatlin's children murdering their parents. It's implied the teenagers do most of the heavy work.
  • Sinister Scythe: A reappearing weapon in children's hands. Very justified by the setting.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Self-inflicted, as He-Walks-Behind-The-Rows demand sacrifices of any adult about 18.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The original group of "children" in the short story are actually in their teens when they kill the adults.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Burt in the original short story and he's a really terrible example of this. He takes far too long to admit to himself that something is seriously wrong in the town of Gatlin... and even once he does, decides to linger just to make his wife, Vicky, — who realized much earlier and wanted to leave immediately — squirm. This results in both of them dying horrible and otherwise completely avoidable deaths. In the movies, he subverts this.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Something wicked happened in Gatlin, and anybody over the age of 18 isn't alive to tell the tale.
  • Unexpectedly Abandoned: The entire town of Gatlin is abandoned and left to gather dust, the sole exception being the church which has been meticulously cared for as the new place of worship for the cult.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's unknown what happened to Burt, Vicky, Job and Sarah after they escaped Gatlin in the original movie, albeit the second movie does briefly mention that a couple (Burt and Vicky) went to Hemingford (a town near Gatlin) and told about Gatlin and the cult.
  • You Have Failed Me: He Who Walks Behind The Rows demand the sacrifice of anyone that reaches 19. It was originally 20, but it was lowered 12 years ago during the cults formation as punishment for the original cult failing to catch Gatlin's police chief and minister, forcing He Who Walks Behind The Rows kill them himself. The age is lowered to 18 at the end of the story due to the same thing happening with Burt.