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John’s Horror Corner: Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995), stop what you’re doing and watch this bonkers 90s goretastic gem!

March 26, 2023

MY CALL: I love this movie. LOVE IT! It starts horrendously slowly, but oh my Dark Corn Lord does it amp things to new levels for the franchise. The ending is full-tilt amazeballs. If you’ve ever enjoyed a gory bad movie, please make this one a priority. This infernal corn sequel gets a USDA stamp of approval. MORE MOVIES LIKE Children of the Corn III: Children of the Corn (1984)spawned many video-era sequels over the years (1992, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2011, 2018) leading to the most recent remake (2020). Given that the original was a “loose” adaptation of King’s story, the sequels would likely be yet “looser.” Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992) was dumber but funner, and CotC 3 seems to follow this yet dumber and yet funner pattern.

TIMELINE: Part 1 ended with the cornfields of Gatlin burning with a ghostly evil face screaming in the smoky cloud. Presumably, that ancient Corn God was defeated. But of course, many of Isaac’s disciples remained alive and, even though they turned on Isaac, many may remain devout to “He who walks behind the rows.” So yeah, sequels. CotC 2 transpired in the week following Vicky and Bert’s escape from the town. In CotC 2, the evil is defeated with the death of possessed Micah. Far simpler and less grand of a finish than CotC 1’s crop burning and zombie Isaac coming to drag Malachi to Corn Starch Hell.

Having never before left the farm, Eli (Daniel Cerny; Demonic Toys) and Joshua (Ron Melendez; The Unborn II, Voodoo) are placed in foster care with a couple in Chicago. The couple is nice and affluent, with a big house near an abandoned factory where Eli plants corn he brought from home as a direct offering to “He who walks behind the rows.”

Now I know what you’re thinking. Why are we sending these kids to some metropolis and forgoing our rural kid cult charm for this sequel? But around this time a lot of horror franchises were absconding their secluded cabins in the woods and summer camps to try their hand at horror in the big city. It was seldom successful. Carol Anne moved downtown only to be followed by her haunting in Poltergeist III (1988); Jason takes Manhattan (just five years after the Muppets) in Friday the 13th part VIII (1989); evil tribbles hit Los Angeles in Critters 3 (1991); Pinhead hit the downtown club scene in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992); Candyman (1992) brought dark folklore to Chicago; and Leprechaun 2 (1994) took its diminutive rascal to Las Vegas and then the Hood twice (2000, 2003). This was just the logical next step to give franchise fans a break from Nebraska cornfields for at least one sequel and bring our farm boys to Chicago where they are fostered by Amanda and her husband William Porter (JimMetzler; 976-Evil, Circuitry Man, Waxwork II), a corn commodities trader. Watch out for how that plays into the story.

Our big city theme comes with fish-out-of-water tropes and hokier deliveries—probably even more hokey than CotC 2. Basketball scenes, religious taboos, racial conflicts and Amish jokes abound. If CotC 2 was a fun bad movie, CotC 3 is an awesome solid gold bad movie. This features the weakest acting and writing of the three movies by far. But the death scenes and supernatural antics are oh so fun! Just be warned, for the first 30-40 minutes you will swear I’m lying and think this movie sucks. It doesn’t. Just give it time. The kills in CotC 3 are by far the best, bloodiest, most wild and most inspired. Sad that the overall movies get “cornier” with each sequel. But I’ll take them for the supernatural death scenes alone.

CotC 2’s Micah was no Isaac; and at first glance, Eli is no Micah. Or is he…? Our child cult leaders seem to be getting initially more innocuous while also gaining more supernatural power with each sequel. Case in point, Eli has an ornate corn-bejeweled Bible and conjures evil, prehensile corn plants draw and quarter his abusive father, ripping his limbs from their bloody sockets and stitching shut his eyes and lips. It’s mean. To the contrary, Micah looked and sounded more menacing, but didn’t brandish most of his magical powers until the end; and Isaac was the creepiest and most convincing leader, but never flexed a single supernatural muscle until he was undead against his will.

But supernatural deaths populate this sequel. A deliciously hokey death scene befalls a hobo that stumbles across Eli’s urban harvest; watch out for when someone spits a distinctly plastic roach from their mouth and vomit pestilence to death; there’s an utterly bazonkers-dumb face-melting death scene; we have an undead cornfield scarecrow; and every scene with a “corn attack” gets more bloody, more intense, and more awesome than the last. By the finale the corn has graduated to full Evil Dead tree status (yes, in EVERY way you might imagine). Yup, Charlize Theron (you read that right) gets violated by an evil plant. I doubt she’ll be reminiscing her “start in the film industry” for her Oscar speech.

The killer corn “decapitation scene” is 90s epic goretastic awesomeness as a kid’s head is slowly and brutally “pulled” over ten feet into the air with his spine forming a bloody elongated stalk. As of this moment, I love this movie. Again, the first 30-40 minutes were a slog, but this has proven to be well worth the wait!

We learn that Eli was somehow a foster child as far back as the 1960s. Eli implies that he might be the actual devil, which seems to disregard the first two movies. I also wonder why the devil (or some other Biblical fiend) would be tied to a corn harvest unless we’re tying to the Native American folklore from CotC 2 (which goes totally unmentioned here in CotC 3). But the events of CotC 1-2 occur in 1984… so was Eli another corn cult leader operating in the 60s as well as at the same time in 1984? Eh, probably not. More realistically, CotC 3 isn’t paying much attention to canon or franchise continuity.

The finale treats us to a long montage of crazy “evil assault corn” death. Kids are getting strangled and impaled left and right by prehensile corn vines all under the control of a huge hulking malformed, fleshy aberration of a “He who walks behind the rows” Hellbeast! This thing looks awesome. Some shots are stop-motion, including when it is eating a girl represented on-screen by an action figure! YES. An obvious ACTION FIGURE!. OMG I love this movie. It starts slow but oh my Dark Corn Lord does it amp things to new levels with every 30-minute block. The ending is full-tilt amazeballs.

Did I mention that I love this movie? If you’ve ever enjoyed a bad movie, please make this one a priority. This infernal corn sequel gets a USDA stamp of approval.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2023 10:01 am

    “Just five years after the muppets”. You get a like just for that line. After reading this I don’t remember ever seeing it, though one of the screen captures makes me think maybe I did. After reading this I’ve got to track it down and give it a shot. Thanks for the fun review.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 27, 2023 7:01 pm

      I try to be all inclusive, from Jason to the Muppets. 😉

      That finale Elder Corn God monster is like an even uglier Howard the Duck alien. I LOVE this movie.

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