Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)

*. Woof. How do these terrible franchises keep going?
*. Part V of the (at least to me) inexplicably long-lived Children of the Corn franchise heads off in yet another new direction. As I’ve mentioned before, there is no coherent Children of the Corn mythology or narrative presented in these films. Despite being numbered they’re not really sequels to each other, and indeed have almost nothing in common except (1) children and (2) corn.
*. Take the matter of the Bible they use. In Stephen King’s story (still being credited as what this film is “based on,” though it isn’t) it’s a standard Bible with some of the pages in the New Testament ripped out. That seems to be what it is in the original film as well. In Urban Harvest, however, the Bible has become a kind of Necronomicon, a source of power for He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Now, in this film, the sacred text is something called the Book of Divine Enlightenment, and from what we may gather it doesn’t have anything to do with the Christian Bible at all but instead lays out the basic rules and rituals of the corn cult. I was left wondering who printed the thing.
*. Then there is the nature of He Who Walks Behind the Rows. At times he’s like a kind of super gopher, burrowing away underground. In Urban Harvest he was a giant . . . thing, all tentacles and eyeballs and teeth. Here he’s an eternally burning corn silo that human sacrifices dive into. Which, among other things, means he isn’t walking behind any corn rows.
*. I know I’ve been watching too many horror films from this period when I actually recognized Kane Hodder, who was also the stunt coordinator, playing the bartender. Hodder, as many people will know, played Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th VII through X, but his filmography is . . . extensive.
*. Part III gave us Charlize Theron, however briefly. Part IV gave us Naomi Watts, before she was a star. In this movie we’re introduced to Eva Mendes, who struggles heroically in an absolutely hopeless part.
*. The series also has a thing for roping in fading veterans. Karen Black in the previous film. David Carradine here. Yes, David Carradine. Who, somehow, is the leader of the cult despite being an adult. His noggin splits apart and turns into a flamethrower that torches a hole straight through Fred Williamson’s head. I am not kidding.
*. That’s all the fun stuff. The rest of the movie is quite bad. It might have at least played out as an entertaining slasher flick — the group of young people who end up in a town full of psychos — but it’s not scary and the gore effects are garbage. So there’s nothing at all to see here. And yet the franchise was still far from over.

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