Even now, it’s hard to believe that the 1984 movie adaption of the Stephen King short story became a franchise that is 9 films & 1 remake long. The latest, Children of the Corn: Runaway was released as recent as 2018.
Telling the story of a small town in Nebraska (Gatlin) where the children slaughtered all the adults in the name of ‘He Who Walks Behind the Rows’.
The Children of the Corn franchise doesn’t exactly get much respect & for good reason. It’s not as though the original was a classic & many of the sequels can be rightfully called ‘awful’. However, they’re not all bad. In fact, some of them are highly entertaining. There really isn’t much requirement to watch these films in order, the only thing we would suggest is watching the original first as every story afterwards uses the base idea. Also 666: Isaac Returns has some direct links.
This list is based off our originals ratings that we gave the movies when we reviewed them. If movies have the same score then they will be in order of our own preference.
10 – Children of the Corn – Remake (2009)
Our Score: 3/10
Seriously…who was asking for a Children of the Corn remake?
While staying closer to the source material, this remake is far less entertaining with far worse actors.
Set in the fictional town of Gatlin, Nebraska, the movie opens in 1963 as we see the boy preacher Isaac (Robert Gerdisch) delivering a brimstone & fire sermon to the town’s children. Gatlin has been suffering a severe drought & Isaac claims to have been visited by an ancient god in his dreams. He Who Walks Behind the Rows has instructed Isaac to lead the children in killing everyone over the age of nineteen (all adults, basically) as their sins has been deemed the reason for the drought.
Many years later, Vietnam veteran Burt (David Anders) and his wife Vicky (Kandyse McClure) end up in an adult-less Gatlin. They are two of the most unlikable characters ever.
This remake fails miserably at improving on the original, something that really shouldn’t have been that difficult. What we get here is a horrible flick that lacks entertainment. Its biggest flaws lie with its characters & actors. A lacklustre ending caps off an extremely poor film, one that might stay true to the King short story but fails to understand how to make it entertaining. Read our full review here.
9 – Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)
Our Score: 3/10
The fifth movie in the series has almost no links to the original. It’s not even set in Gatlin; instead it’s in Divinity Falls with a group of annoying & barely likeable teens. If you’re the kind of person that likes seeing semi-famous actors in smaller roles when they first started off, Fields of Terror has a young Eva Mendes boring the hell out of herself & everyone else.
The story sees a young boy called Ezekiel wandering in a corn field where he comes across a pit of green fire which then possesses him.
A year later some teens are travelling cross-country in 2 groups. The first group eventually end up in the corn-fields where they are dispatched in decent fashion. The second group eventually run out of signs & crash nearby.
Accosted by a group of creepy kids led by Ezekiel, they are warned about being on private property & told to leave. They don’t really listen & end up shacking up in a local house which appears empty & effectively start raiding it of its beer & food. As you do…thankfully it’s not long before they start getting killed by the psychotic kids.
So much of Fields of Terror leaves you groaning. Whether it is characters doing the usual stupid stuff you see in horror, horrible plot developments & a sequel-baiting ending. One that is not followed up in the next movie at all. Read our full review here.
8 – Children of the Corn 666: Isaac Returns (1999)
Our Score: 3/10
Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return is the kind of movie that you go in expecting to be bad & if it isn’t it is instantly elevated upwards.
The story goes that a girl called Hannah is going back to her home town of Gatlin (the place where all the kids went & killed their folks) to find out who her mother is. On the way she meets a preacher who predicts her future with a scary degree of accuracy. Once she arrives at the town she finds the place to be a bit strange almost as if she is expected.
She inadvertently wakes up Isaac (the boy preacher from the first movie) who has been in a coma for the last 19 years. Now he is awake he wants to fulfil the prophecy & Hannah is an integral part of it.
One of the worst things about this sequel is how it abandons a fundamental aspect of the Children of the Corn series. Most of the cast are adults. They all wish for a prophecy to be fulfilled that dates back to the original movie, the one that centred around kids that when reaching the age of 18 were sacrificed? Now being an adult is ok?
While not the worst, there is very little to enjoy here. Read our full review here.
7 – Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992)
Our Score: 5/10
The first sequel wasn’t exactly rushed, coming 8 years after the original film but serves as a direct sequel. Sort of. A local man uncovers the bodies of the adults murdered in Gatlin. The surviving kids are treated with care as they are thought to have been under the influence of the Isaac, the boy preacher from the first movie.
The people of the nearby town, Hemingford agree to adopt the kids to help them get over the trauma. Not everyone is convinced of the children’s innocence though.
It’s not a bad Children of the Corn movie by any stretch but it does lack imagination. The story is not unique & loses direction quickly. The children’s behaviour would cause any adult to raise an eyebrow but these adults seem oblivious to everything.
It has moments that are worth watching but as an overall package feels unnecessary (don’t they all?) & padded out. Read our full review here.
6 – Children of the Corn: Revelation (2001)
Our Score: 5/10
Children of the Corn: Revelation wisely drops the number 7. If you’re trying to shake off a reputation then the last thing you want to do is remind viewers that you’re the 7th in the series of what are considered to be mostly bad movies.
A straight to video job, COTC: Revelation story begins with some old lady having a bad dream in a bed. There are flames, corn & children…she wakes up & goes running out of her house. She is the grandmother of Jamie who is on route to visit her after not getting a returned call in over a week. When she arrives, she finds her grandmother’s apartment block (due to be demolished soon) is right next to a cornfield & that she is missing.
Revelation at least makes a valiant effort in trying to connect with the COTC history. The corn is easy, the brief reference to ‘he who walks behind the rows’, the similarities between the boy preacher of this movie & the ones from the previous as well as the name-dropping of the Gatlin incident are all decent references.
A bad movie but still nowhere as bad as we’ve seen elsewhere. There isn’t much gore & most blood seems to come from scenes involving corn. Early on it is really obvious where the movie is going & the payoff doesn’t satisfy. Read our full review here.
5 – Children of the Corn: Genesis (2011)
Our Score: 5/10
So here we are. The eighth Children of the Corn (not including the remake) & the last of the series to be made to date. The expectation is nothing but the usual dross but it turned out that this is not the worst Children of the Corn movie you’ll ever see.
A young couple break down in corn-country & seek help from a reclusive & unfriendly preacher. While staying there they discover a boy locked up inside a shed. The boy is the current personification of he who walks behind the rows & it is looking for more children such as the woman’s unborn child. The preacher is the leader of a corn-cult & his wife is the mother of the boy in the shed.
It makes little sense. The problem comes with trying to link it with other Children of the Corn movies & that is impossible. There is nothing beyond the odd reference & the story of this one contradicts stories that have come before in other COTC movies. Once you dismiss all notions of a Children of the Corn movie it becomes a much more sensible film & a much more enjoyable movie.
It has pretty decent acting throughout & the main characters are likeable enough even if they behave far too stupidly to survive in a horror movie. A strange film in that it’s not a bad movie or a bad Children of the Corn movie but it misses the mark in several key areas such as the confusing story & stupid character decisions. Read our full review here.
4 – Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)
Our Score: 6/10
Worth watching for Screaming Mad George’s effects alone.
Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest begins with the death of Eli & Joshua’s father. He dies at the hands of He Who Walks Behind the Rows who Eli has summoned to stop him abusing Joshua.
The 2 kids are taken into foster care by a nice couple who live in modern Chicago. For 2 boys growing up in the middle of no-where the urban (see?) landscape is hard to adjust too. Joshua is more willing to adapt while Eli’s faith in his god causes problems from the outset.
Eli finds an abandoned factory nearby where he plants corn that instantly sprouts into a lush cornfield. It is here he can commune with He Who Walks Behind the Rows & disgusted with the way of life of the Chicago inhabitants, sets about bringing the God here.
Almost everything that is worth enjoying in Urban Harvest comes with blood & there is plenty of it to enjoy. The deaths are a mix of pure entertainment & a few attempts to gross you out. One of the better Children of the Corn movies but with the same flaws that also plague most of them. A decent story that loses its way at the end even if it is extremely entertaining). The movies strengths lie in its effects & gore, just sit back & enjoy the carnage. Read our full review here.
3 – Children of the Corn: Runaway (2018)
Our Score: 6.5/10
A young woman called Ruth (Marci Miller) escapes the town of Gatlin after witnessing the horrific events that befell the town. The children, under the spell of a child preacher who was influenced by ‘He Who Walks Behind the Rows’, rose up & murdered all the adults in the town. Ruth, heavily pregnant believes that the entity wants her baby so escapes.
Over the next decade she stays on the move with her young son, Aaron (Jake Ryan Scott) but her past is never far behind.
Children of the Corn: Runaway is a surprisingly bloody movie. When the killing starts, the blood flies & looks extremely realistic. The clever shots help sell the brutality of what we’re seeing making it much more effective. On this alone, Runaway is up there as one of the best Children of the Corn movies so far.
The lack of originality in the movie really harms it but by time the credits roll you’re unlikely to have regretted the time spent. Considering what has come before, it’s just nice to not have to sit through another terrible Children of the Corn movie! Read our full review here.
2 – Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)
Our Score: 7/10
Grace Rhodes is heading back to her hometown in Nebraska to take care of her old & sickly mother who has developed deep paranoia & refuses to go any further then the front yard. She has reoccurring dreams of being attacked by groups of children & it is affecting her younger children (Graces siblings). Meanwhile nearby, a farmer is drawing water form a well where he discovers the body of a child dressed like a preacher, the child comes back to life & kills the farmer.
That night all the kids in town begin to get sick & feverish culminating in seizures & sky-rocketing temperatures. As soon as it begins, it ends but soon after the kids begin to act strange. They stop answering to their names, claim to be children long dead & start killing adults with the long-term plan of giving the boy preacher Josiah, a new body to inhabit.
Regardless of its loose connections to the series as a whole, Children of the Corn 4 manages something many of the other movies failed to do. It’s an actual good movie & at times a bit creepy.
A really good attempt that would have scored higher had it not been for the disappointing ending. Deaths are fun & suitably gory even if they sometimes border on silly. Read our full review here.
1 – Children of the Corn (1984)
Our Score: 8/10
The original & the best of the bunch.
Based off the short story of the same name by Stephen King. It tells the story of the town of Gatlin’s child population murdering the adults. This, after falling under the spell of ‘He Who Walks Behind the Rows’. The children are convinced that this action will ensure a healthy harvest of corn & are led by the prophet boy, Isaac.
Over the years the kids kill any adult that comes to Gatlin as a sacrifice to the corn & ‘He Who Walks Behind the Rows’.
Other than the blood bath at the beginning there is little in the way of deaths once the movie gets going. We get a really subtle cat & mouse murder that you just don’t see in horror much anymore & a full-on ending but blood hounds may be disappointed.
The original & best of a pretty bad bunch. Children of the Corn will forever be tainted with the mass of below average sequels that followed but it’s worth a watch just to remind yourself how it all began & how subtly is the key to a good horror flick. Read our full review here.