Once upon a time, if you wanted to see a movie you had to go to a theater or wait until it ran on television. This is stretching my memory back a long way, so indulge me if I only remember that four channels existed in those days, and you had to wait years for movies to appear at a time when you could actually be home to see them. Fast forward a few years and the VCR was invented. I remember being impressed that you could actually rent movies you’d always wanted to see, within reason. If you watched them too often they wore out. Then the electronic revolution came. This is all by way of excuse for why I’ve only just started to watch movies that came out in my younger years. Children of the Corn, although critically panned, was a financial success in my college days when I started watching horror movies. When I finally watched it yesterday, I realized it was a natural candidate for this blog’s running commentary on horror and religion.
What I had not fully appreciated is that the movie is a cautionary tale centering around a sacrificial cult. While the movie does have its problems, the concept of children taking the religion they hear from adults seriously runs throughout the film. Understanding gods as bloodthirsty demanders of sacrifice is a gruesome staple of all monotheistic religions. Someone’s got to die for the rest to be saved. While Fundamentalists take comfort in the substitutionary atonement of the “once for all” nature of sacrifice, in the film, the children erect crosses and sacrifice adults to “he who walks behind the rows” – a typical Stephen King kind of monster. Monster or not, the children believe he is a god.
Belief is the guy-wire for religion. The reality behind that belief is open to question, otherwise multiple religions would not exist. Children of the Corn confuses the issue by presenting “he who walks behind the rows” as a legitimate supernatural entity, one who is vanquished by a passage from Revelation. The truly disturbing aspect, however, is the complete, unquestioning devotion of the children. When children are raised in intolerant religions today, we are also planting corn that will lead to some unholy reaping in the future. Perhaps the message of the film was more trenchant than most critics were willing to admit back then. Today it is certainly more believable, given many religions’ demonstrations of their destructive powers.
2 thoughts on “Corny Children”