The Horror Movie Magazine You Can
Really Sink Your Teeth Into
Issue #6

The Ballad of Gatlin, Nebraska (with apologies to Robert W. Service, Rudyard Kipling, et al. Buy now from Movies Unlimited! 

David Christenson

Stephen King’s Children of the Corn, DVD released 2001 by Anchor Bay Entertainment
rated R, 92 minutes, color, widescreen (1.66:1 aspect ratio) enhanced for 16x9 TVs; Dolby surround sound includes theatrical trailer and 16-page “Collector’s Booklet” with essay by Michael Felsher. Suggested retail price: $24.98.

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Children of the Corn DVD CoverI was shopping for horror videos
When, suddenly, blocking the aisle,
Came a grizzled old man in his 40s
Dressed up in an antique style:

Muscle shirt and white Adidas,
Puffy hair and a puffy down vest,
And a little Rubik’s Cube dangling
Amid gray hairs on his chest.

I looked around for assistance
But he had me cornered, alone,
And my brain began to get foggy
In his cloud of Ralph Lauren cologne.

“Here sonny,” the relic cackled,
“Drop that ‘supernatural thriller.’
“What you need is an ’80s horror flick
“Where the plot is nothing but filler.

“Forget those weepy ghost stories
“And deep meditations on life.
“What you need is a flick from the good old days
“When they settled things with a knife.”

The old man gave me a DVD,
And before I could toss it away,
I suddenly found myself home again
With my forefinger pressing “Play.”

The disk was an Anchor Bay release
Of a movie from ’84,
With nicely rendered picture and sound
(The better to savor the gore).

Stephen King’s name is prominent
But it’s unlike that horror star
To write this tale of a clueless pair
With a corpse in the back of their car.

Linda Hamilton contemplates a future career that includes Mr. Destiny and King 
Kong Lives.Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton
Are the stud and significant other,
Before Linda was cast as Beauty
Or Edward Furlong’s mother.

They’re inattentively driving around
When they hear a loud “kerthunk”—
They’ve flattened a kid on the highway
So they toss him in the trunk.

They go to a gasoline station,
Where the owner tells them to scram,
So they drive to a nearby village
While the gas guy gets chopped like a ham.

Peter Horton prances around the town
Like a petulant celeb,
But nobody’s home but some creepy kids:
Welcome to Gatlin, Neb.

Some children, they worship soybeans;
Some children, they worship wheat.
These children will only worship corn
And corn is all they will eat.

Corn fritters and corn polenta,
Tortillas and corn salsa fria,
Corn flakes, cornbread, roast corn on the cob -
You probably get the idea.

Every available space in town
Had some kind of crop art on it.
There’s even a painting of Jesus
Wearing corn leaves for a bonnet.

In another, Saint Joseph’s a monkey,
For no particular reason.
It’s as though Martha Stewart took LSD
At the height of the harvest season.

John Franklin is “Isaac,” who preaches
In a pseudo-Shakespearean way.
Courtney Gaines as “Malachi” looks like the son
Of Mick Jagger and Martha Raye.

These kids are the murderous leaders
Of a cult, it is revealed,
And their god is a countrified demon
Who likes to hang out in a field.

They had already sliced up their parents
When the movie had not yet begun,
So all they have to do now is kill
Horton and Hamilton.

Oddly enough, John Franklin as Isaac was creepier before he turned into a zombie.Horton gets stabbed, and Hamilton
Gets tied to a cornstalk cross.
But Malachi’s gang decides instead
To sacrifice Isaac, the boss.

Now here’s Horton picking a fistfight,
And Malachi taking a fall.
Now here’s Horton planning a bonfire
Of corn-based ethanol.

Now here’s proof of a too-tight budget
’Cause the demon looks kind of funny—
When it chases the kids, it raises the turf
Like a tunneling Bugs Bunny.

Well, nevertheless, the movie’s not bad,
With some pretty good moments of terror,
And enough subversive ideas
To offset the occasional error.

The DVD’s good, a bare-bones thing,
Without many extras to show.
As for me, I don’t need “The Making Of”
’Cause I really don’t want to know.

This movie was pretty popular.
It’s spawned five sequels so far.
And everybody’s forgotten about
That corpse in the back of the car.

* * *

David Christenson is a journalist, photographer, dealer in used and rare books, ex-beekeeper and movie buff who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Copyright © 2002 by the author. All rights reserved.