61 Days of Halloween- Top Evil Kids in the Children of the Corn Series

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Top Evil Kids in the Children of the Corn Series

Below you will find a ranking of the featured evil children in the Franchise to date. Apologies to Robbie Kiger and AnneMarie McEoy and the other actors portraying the good kids of Gatlin and the surrounding communities throughout the series but this is the bread and butter of it after all.

12. Adam Wylie in Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror

Adam Wylie in Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (Dimension)

As I indicated in the review of Fields of Terror this ranking isn’t a reflection of Wylie’s abilities as a performer so much as they are a function of his being miscast for this role. Despite his conviction and acumen in delivery he is rarely believable and never intimidating.

11. Dusty Burwell in Children of the Corn: Genesis

Dusty Burwell in Children of the Corn: Genesis (Dimension)

OK, confession time: Burwell does kind of get a pass based on his age and the fact that the script demanded very little of him. He’s constrained by a small amount of activity he’s asked to do and no dialogue. Due to most of the faults being that of the film and not the actor I can bump him up slightly, however, his character was the least involved of all the evil children in this series thus far.

10. Daniel Newman in Stephen King’s Children of the Corn

Daniel Newman in Stephen King's Children of the Corn (SyFy)

Newman is given the unenviable task of reprising the role of Malachai which was made iconic by Courtney Gains in the original film. Granted the character in the story and this script is much less involved and demanding, however, nary does Newman really engender fear based on a look or a line. The tension of the film is purely situational.

9. Preston Bailey in Stephen King’s Children of the Corn

Having recently seen him in Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer I can say he has become a stronger actor. Which is not to say that he’s weak in this film. He does admirably with his dialogue and is always as imposing as he can be he may just have been a bit young for the part, however, he does have his moments.

8. Brandon Kleyla in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering

Brandon Kleyla in Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (Dimension)

Many of the actors in this part of the list are in similar boats: they were in roles that were larger in significance than size. Kleyla is one of the more under-involved having said that he doesn’t capitalize much on it and is somewhat forgettable aside from some good kills and nasty appearance.

7. Ryan Bollman in Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice

Ryan Bollman in Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (Dimension Films)

At least Bollman is in a cast where the cabal is large so he has support. He is good for an occasional evil stare that is effective but not as strong with dialogue. If they were on even par he might be higher up.

6. Sean Smith in Children of the Corn: Revelation

Sean Smith in Children of the Corn: Revelation (Dimension)

Sean Smith sadly can’t claim top billing amongst the evil kids in his own film, however, a lot of that is due to the design of it where minion ghosts bear more of the brunt than the boy preacher does. In his limited time he is rather formidable both as a personage and as an actor. He has chilling glares from cold eyes and puts quite the assault on the protagonist.

5. Jeff Ballard & Taylor Hobbs in Children of the Corn: Revelation

Jeff Ballard and Taylor Hobbs in Children of the Corn: Revelation (Dimension)

Here’s a rare case where the effectiveness of the kids and the quality of the film don’t quite match up. The film in terms of premise and execution is sad. This pair also don’t talk much but overcome that because they fit the parts so well and are committed to their actions with demented glee.

4. Robert Gerdisch in Stephen King’s Children of the Corn

Robert Gerdisch in Stephen King's Children of the Corn (SyFy)

This is the standout of the King remake both in terms of writing and performance by a juvenile. As I’ve stated before a great teaser scene can be a good thin or a bad thing. Here it’s a great thing. Gerdisch’s preaching is a chilling tone-setter that is wonderfully delivered and one of the highlights of the film.

3. Daniel Cerny in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

Daniel Cerny in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (Dimension)

Here’s a prime example of how heavy involvement by the preacher kid in this film can be a boon to it. Cerny shoulders more of a load in this film than any other young actor in the series and has some of the better material and moments. For the most part all are used to his advantage and he also has the intangible that just is scary.

2. John Franklin in Children of the Corn

John Franklin in Children of the Corn (New World Pictures)

I think appropriate that I state that the top two could easily be reversed. The top two are, as one might expect, in the first film. Franklin’s casting, in the original, is inspired. He was playing a character younger than he was at the time and was easily convincing and also quite unnerving. No preacher had more verve and downright zealotry. His return in the original is perhaps the pinnacle of the film. It’s truly difficult to separate this team. Their strengths are enhanced by the fact that they share the same film.

1. Courtney Gains in Children of the Corn

Courney Gains in Children of the Corn (New World Pictures)

Why does Gains get top spot? First, there’s a question of his character. He is the wildcard enforcer and in a moment revealed as the more feared amongst the children. He makes simple lines emphatic and shocking. He has an intimidating glare and makes his onscreen time count, every second of it.

61 Days of Halloween- Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror

David Carradine in Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (Dimension)

Here we are again in Gatlin, mind you that’s not a complaint. As you have seen and will see later on in the series keeping the geographical ties in this tale are quite difficult. The fact that Urban Harvest works so well in Chicago is nothing short of astonishing. No, this series didn’t have the affinity for Gatlin, Nebraska that Friday the 13th had for Camp Crystal Lake but both those series had a successful airing outs. Here though despite the many possibilities that still existed the returns to nearby towns and Gatlin itself almost always have a bit of staleness to them.

Perhaps no film in this series does more to distance you at the beginning of the film than this one does with the intro it has. Not only do you have the stereotypical college kids on a road trip but to not put too fine a point on it they’re douche college kids. Fantastic. And these are the people I’m supposed to want to see escape the grasp of smarter, more organized albeit crazed zealot children, to quote the great philosopher Ed from Good Burger “Uh, no?”

As if their intro with blow-up doll road markers and typical over-the-top fratboy-jerk-loserness isn’t bad enough we’re supposed to then think that these broad, over-the-top types have dimensions, heart and a conscience and want to save some of the of the children of Gatlin from the fate that’s befallen them. Even if the performances to this point had ridiculously exceeded what was on the written page, the script had already doomed the notion would pass the suspension of disbelief test.

It’s a ludicrous notion to want to save the children because the one thing that has always been somewhat a strength and a detriment to this series, depending on how it’s handled, is that the kids aren’t subtle. Basically, because kids just aren’t usually. They hate b.s. and subterfuge. So in an insular setting with a mob rule/cult mentality they’ll yell “Outlander!” at you and chase you with a scythe no problem. This film is not that different. The children don’t waste a lot of their time telling the students they’re trespassing on private property and that they best be on their way. They proceed to get lost and then trapped there by the children yet there’s still some trust there, some you’re willing to try and save?

Now as mentioned the acting here again is not stellar which you could almost come to expect but what makes it more difficult to take is that there were some weird casting choices. One of the students is played by Ahmet Zappa, now I can’t argue he doesn’t fit the type of character he plays but why Ahmet Zappa would be cast in anything is beyond me.

A bit more unfortunate I feel is the casting of Adam Wylie in the role of the preacher boy, Ezeekial, now I stress that it’s the casting I question here. Adam Wylie in this era was a child actor who’d pop-up in almost anything you can think of, rather akin to Nathan Gamble in as much as you saw him in many things but just likely never placed a name to the face and minus a breakout role now but talented nontheless. Wylie in the realm of a horror film was suited more to be the scared kid you’d be rooting for rather than the flip the switch type: seeming all sweet and innocent until you get on his bad side. A polar opposite of Daniel Cerny in III film.

This film also has a stellar bit of casting that sadly does little to nothing to help the film at all. David Carradine plays the role of an elder guide here. Despite the fact that he gets some decent dialogue that he’s allowed to work brilliantly with his susurrous delivery it adds a weird wrinkle to the story. In the original run of the series The Age of Reason, meaning the age at which children reach adulthood and must sacrifice themselves to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, changes clumsily. In the short story and remake it’s clear why, however, never is it adequately explained why a group with such a rigid dogma would not just allow this man to live among them but act as counselor.

This is one of the cases in this series where the film lost their religion. At certain points it seemed to vanish entirely other times fundamental precepts were change regardless of consequence or lack of sensibility. Clearly installments of this nature suffer more than most.

This film also changes the ritual of sacrifice, which is one that I can forgive so long as one character is the interpreter of the will of He Who Walks Behind the Rows things like that may shift. However, on top of everything else in this film there was a lack of explication.

The very least I can say for the film is that they did create other avenues for leaving town once a car is taken out of the equation but it very predictably goes wrong. However, it does beg the question why is a bus stopping in a ghost town? Other locals may have a handshake agreement to leave the children alone and keep their lives but a bus? Why?

Everywhere you look in Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror there are head-scratching decisions. Such that my initial reaction was after this installment no wonder they felt it necessary to re-hash Isaac for the next one.

2/10