Free Movie Friday: Blondie (1938)

Introduction

I wanted to start this series back in January. Basically, there are a lot of good movies out there that you can watch free and clear. Meaning you don’t have to pay for them and by streaming it free you’re not stealing it because they are in the public domain. Also, in some cases, these films are not all as ancient as copyright laws usually call for.

Blondie (1938)

Firstly, anyone lamenting that sequels are “ruining movies” today, this is one of the easiest examples to cite proving that everything old is new again, meaning sequels are not a modern scourge. There were about 25 of these films released over a thirteen year period. Also worth noting is that long before the Harry Potter films Larry Simms grew up on film – at least in real life if not so much as Baby Dumpling.

I finally started watching a box set of these short, easy-viewing comedies this year. They are in the public domain, readily available and usually quite enjoyable even if the formula has few variables. The series may bolster this section for quite some time as the completist in me does want to get through all of them.

On a personal note, it’s most compelling to me because I recall Blondie in the Sunday comics when I was very young. I always read it, as I did most things on the page, and I guess I never enjoyed it per se due to my youth and the dated nature they had at the time. A similar example on the comics page for years was my not getting or liking Doonesbury reading it anyway.  Doonesbury I still don’t care for, but I have come to an appreciation of Blondie through these films mainly due to Arthur Lake and Penny Singleton’s characterization which I never would have read into the panels.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

61 Days of Halloween – Films to Keep You Awake: A Real Friend (2006)

Introduction

For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween, as well as a list of previously featured titles please go here.

Films to Keep You Awake: A Real Friend

In continuing to chronicle the titles in this series of horror films we come upon perhaps the most unfortunate title of all of them just because of how misguided certain efforts within the film are. One staple of horror filmmaking is the teaser scene. It’s a scene that’s an early instant jolt to get the audience in the mood, and also give them an early scare prior to some time spent character building. What some films do (like a few in this series) is have the connection to the main thrust of the plot be nebulous. The problem with that in this case is that the connection is practically trivial as the character involved ends up being almost a non-factor.

I, for one, love developing character when there are unique or interesting aspects that were previously unknown being revealed. This film dabbles in a bit of redundancy establishing certain things about Estrella repeatedly: she doesn’t interact, she likes to read, she has an over-active imagination are all facts that are beaten to death in this tale. Due to the fact that she likes reading, horror fiction mainly, and likes watching horror movies; it’s a license for the film to fawn over influential horror figures, but A Real Friend drowns in influence. Not just influence but a grab-bag of them: a Leatherface-like character, zombies, vampires and such. That can work, see The Monster Squad, but the film has other tricks up it’s sleeve that make it harder to tolerate.

As I’ve stated, films on the shorter side need to do a little more work if they also want to have a slower burn; the shorter a movie is the quicker patience runs thin. Yet, while facts about characters are known in some cases motivation remains a mystery for it: you wonder what the man Estrella refers to as “Vampire” wants, what anyone wants really.

There are more serious, more detrimental missteps later on that detract from the fact that we eventually do get fairly satisfactory answers to questions asked for far too long in a film of this length. There are laughable moments, ones where you step out of it because things are just unbelievable; unconscionable lapses in judgment and eye-roll worthy extraneous twists. It finds one way after another to be worse in act three. If you’re a completist, watch this title. You may like it better than I did. However, if you’re a bit more discerning pass it by.

What Should You Want a Franchise to Do Next?

I cannot say I’m a die hard Die Hard fan, not just because that’s a pun, but also because it’s true. However, what the chatter about the latest Die Hard did reveal to me is that even in disappointment, which is the fairly universal reaction to the latest installment, there are different grades of frustration. Furthermore, differing thoughts on what the future of the franchise should be by those who hold it dear.

Essentially, what struck me as most interesting to write about was examining the logic of differing plans through the spectrum of my feelings on other series’.

One of the first I heard can be succinctly described as “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That.” In other words, “Why end the series on a sour note?” However, if I were to apply that to a series I truly liked there would need to be something that I wanted to see salvaged. Because on the surface it can seem a contrarian statement to say “Man, that wasn’t very good, they’ve got to make another one.” However, I do get the sentiment. I think a series in my mind that has gone off course but can still be righted is say the Final Destination films. So far as Die Hard goes, I don’t think a third generation is an eventual solution or becoming further spy-oriented. Again, not a die hard, so I won’t over-speculate.

Hellraiser (1987, New World Pictures)

As opposed to continuing and just fixing the story, another reaction that’s possible it to want to go back to square one. I doubt this would be satisfactory to Die Hard fans. I know it’s a course of action I would accept as a fan of the Hellraiser concept and works wherein Barker was involved, that series is so far from healthy, restarting is the only way to come close to his intention for the character. Especially when the last film prompted Barker to respond that this particular plot it didn’t even come from his a-hole much less his mind, one wonders how worried about being true-to-form Dimension really are. In Die Hard terms, I find it hard to believe an attempt that doesn’t involve Bruce Willis would be made any time soon. The reboot option may only come when he’s really, really old and plays a humorous cameo wherein my generation and those above can tell the youngins that he made the first one and it was better.

So righting the ship and a reboot are options, but not viable ones in this series. The other two options that are theoretically possible would be a prequel, which also doesn’t makes sense here, and just ending it. These two seem to be the two hardest options to accept when your the fan of a franchise. Usually my litmus test about a prequel, or a tale in the same realm being told, is involvement of the originator of the series, like if Rowling pursued other wizarding stories or pursued a new strand of tales with her triad.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001, Warner Bros.)

Another determining factor is: is there room for narrative growth? Lucas had plans for more Star Wars, so now that the decision about proceeding on a new installment belongs to someone else; it’s happening and that’s fine by me. The reported stand-alones are too. The differentiation between the Star Wars and Harry Potter properties is one of time and ownership. So far as we know, lest we get new indications otherwise, Rowling’s world-building is complete. Lucas’ plan was always longer.

Few franchises have a grand design, and that prompts many follow-ups to come about due to responding to questions such as “Well, why not?” or “Well, what now?” Those with a grand design seem to have more staying power, and those who are consistently trying to re-invent the wheel are gambling more.

In the end, I believe “The Ain’t Going Out Like That” school should be the one we feel a film falls into least. A desired abandonment, as nihilistic as it may sound, could be the preferred reaction to most disappointing late-franchise sequels. The cessation of installments ends the false hope, that no matter if we know better, that part of us always holds onto believing that an intangible piece of the first film’s magic will come along into the second, third, fourth and fifth. So perhaps rather than wanting it to be fixed perhaps a franchise we feel is broken should be left alone until it heals or dies.

Paranormal Activity 4 and the Found Footage Problem

This year saw another installation in the Paranormal Activity series. I will not bemoan the perpetuation of the series. I understand that. They cost virtually no money and the profit margins have been fairly huge. As a business decision, it’s a no brainer.

When writing about the first installment of this series, removing the marketing scheme which was brilliant and the hoopla, I complained it was like a surprise symphony.

I have not given up on the series entirely and what I find odd is that each film has done something, in a particular section of the film, that if removed (as if that were possible) and combined with another section of another installment, would make a whole enjoyable horror film.

The main issue that this series has confronted in the sequels is that it hasn’t broken far enough away from the formula that the initial film established. If one looks at any lengthy horror series almost any of them will have a film that bucks the trend. Now, of course, that could backfire but at least it’s an attempt to shake things up.

What part three does best is have payoffs and a fairly good climax, but the build-up as per usual is fairly mind-numbing. In this recent installation certain motifs and twists are introduced, but it ultimately builds to something we’ve all seen before. Whether you’re a fan of the series or not, it’s not a progressive move.

Even purists couldn’t argue that the Halloween and Friday the 13th series kept trying to up the ante and find new avenues by which to lead into their new tales. What I can give to the first part is that it does catch you off guard, but the set-ups for the very modest scares are are too long, this film at least progressed (to an extent) the visual aesthetic.

Part of the dereliction of the series can be attributed to fear of rocking the boat, but the other part hinges on the found footage element. More often than not the found footage approach is used as a crutch rather than a license, or a challenge, to be more creative.

In four, I was very close to liking it, but they felt beholden to the formula.

Ultimately, how vital either this series or implementation of the found footage technique will be how varied, creative and unique the footage sources are. The image quality can be degraded but an over-abundence of static, uncut images is not modernizing; it’s regression to the advent of sound, if you’ll allow the hyperbole.

Cameras are now ubiquitous accessories, so there is much untrod ground in this series and the approach. It must be trod if found footage is not to die by atrophy.

61 Days of Halloween: Friday the 13th Part 6

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, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Friday the 13th Part 6

The deeper into a horror franchise you get the more your status as a die hard is tested. And while I will still testify that Friday the 13th stands second in the slasher trinity to Halloween, this film will likely solidify the fandom of many if the second film didn’t already.

While the auteur theory can sometimes backfire, meaning that having a writer/director is not always a good thing, this is a film that benefits from the concise vision that having one man in both of the most crucial positions on a motion picture.

The film begins without hesitation with a shocking, slightly startling musical strain. While the somewhat puzzling chronology, and odd trajectory of Tommy Jarvis’s character continues in this film; here he is suddenly hero and although there is reference to a mental facility, though he is no longer psychotic, which is a blank not filled in.

Regardless of that this film does many things that make it work. The first being that it addresses the unlikeliness that Jason is truly dead, and it has Tommy wanting to exhume the corpse and burn the body. If you can get past the Frankenstein-like resurrection, which I eventually did, you’ll enjoy this film a great deal.

There are many reasons why: Firstly, Tommy is recast, as long as there liberties being taken with chronology; why not? And it’s for the better. Second, this film has its sense of humor in the right place. For example, the gag about “some folks have a strange idea of entertainment,” with the lens being nearly spiked and someone referring to having seen enough horror movies to know they’re in trouble.

The list continues: the reference to Part 4, for backstory purposes, is audio not visual, so the reflexivity is strongest in jokes not in the narrative itself. The necessary annoying bit players are killed quickly, with impeccable timing and great comedic value.

Also, by having the Sheriff of the newly renamed Forest Green act as an alternate antagonist we can fully support Tommy and not feel quite so crass in taking some kind of perverse enjoyment in Jason’s successes, as it’s the sheriff’s fault his rampage has begun.

Perhaps the most effective part of the film is that the campers at the lake are young kids most no older than twelve, making them much more innocent than Jason’s usual potential victims who are fornicating eighteen-year-olds.

While the ending predictably enough opens the door for Part 7 at the very least they didn’t make the odds of survival or re-animation seemingly insurmountable like they did last time. Visually, narratively and structurally this is a much more accomplished piece of filmmaking than most of the other installments and is a good deal more enjoyable than many of the intervening titles since Jason’s introduction as villain.

61 Days of Halloween: Friday the 13th Part III

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, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Friday the 13th, Part III

One thing that is typically an interesting feature of the Friday the 13th series, at least in the early going, is that there is an attempt to keep some semblance of continuity. Images from past films will typically be spliced in at the beginning to remind viewers where we’ve been. This film shows more than the last but it is needed.
 
However, the one chance at clarification that exists isn’t taken. It glosses over the escape from the last film. This one starts with a typical band of teenagers on their way to the country all of whom are stoners, one of whom is pregnant.

There are some decent touches early on like a cop car with lights on that is not chasing them. Sadly, this film decides it needs a replacement lunatic doom-sayer even though that character was killed off in the last film, and absence of said character, makes the teens more unwitting victims. Unfortunately, the pranks and fake scares gone awry multiply in this edition.

Since the film was originally exhibited in 3D, it becomes painfully obvious that things were shot for that effect. A tremendous amount of the story is taken up with the rivalry by happenstance that occurs with a local gang of thugs. It does influence the end of the film but it takes up way too much screen time, becomes too much of a distraction and, in the end, it’s annoying. The one big positive is that it gives Jason kills you can unabashedly root for.

Another thing that gets in the way and in the end serves only one purpose is the character of Shelly (Larry Zerner). This character has the annoying habit of trying to freak out his fellow soon-to-be-victims which makes for a rather aggravating experience when you rarely get a real scare on the heels of a bogus one. The one purpose of his being annoying serves is that it sets up the most memorable kill in the movie as one of the girls thinks its still him when it is, in fact, Jason. The confusion is, of course, caused because Shelly was wearing a hockey mask which Jason steals and there you have that tidbit.

While the building of Jason’s character continues which is an interesting thing to see there are too many encumbrances that make this film nowhere near as enjoyable as the first two. While there is one sequence where a girl is running around screaming and amazingly you actually feel her fear, which is rare but too many of the characters are disposable and you don’t feel their loss and want it to an extent. For the first time in the series, some of the kills are very weak which, when you’ve been made to wait, is a very bad thing indeed. Some of the make-up work is also not passable.

Lastly, at the end Jason’s body is left alone there’s no paramedic or cop wheeling it off, forget the fact that in the story he has survived miraculously before, it’s a body why are you just leaving it around? It was a film that wasn’t far off from working, which is unfortunate.

61 Days of Halloween: The Final Destination

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, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

The Final Destination

This is a film that is well-intentioned and has enough going for it that it nearly crosses the threshold making it a good film but it ultimately misses the mark. This, the 4th installment of the series, brings in an entirely new cast. There are spoilers herein.

One crucial mistake the film makes is to have two extensive vision sequences one that we only know is a vision when it’s done, which makes you wonder if the second was added so it would clock in at 82 minutes.
One great thing that this film does was that it spent a minimum amount of time in doubting both the visions and the concept of death’s path. As patrons of horror films and fans of this series we will accept both these concepts at face value and we don’t need to spend too much time on it.

Its failings are few but serious. Across the board the acting is pretty poor. The only performances of note both belong to characters who died too early: Nick Zano, as the crude cynical friend was quite funny, and Mykelti Williamson, one of the most under-utilized and anonymous Oscar winners ever isn’t great but good enough to make you wonder where he’s been.

Despite there being a decent string of kills there are some that are repetitive (bus) and just ineffective like the final kill which degenerates to humor instead of inducing it as it goes into closing credits. Again this series is predicated on anticipation of death and multiple possibilities to achieve it – so the sudden shock and uninventive don’t fly.

Ultimately, what’s lost is the psychological strain from the original that Devon Sawa demonstrated so well. It’s like a slasher film with an invisible killer and gratuitous sex, cursing and cheesy dialogue.

Also, the NASCAR scenario while offering flame, gore and a decent chuckle here and there isn’t as identifiable or as frightful a scenario as they’ve created. Perhaps the sequel which will follow after its 2nd consecutive box-office triumph will get back to grassroots (It didn’t).

The second extended vision sequence leads to the protagonist saving the day but it’s only for the time being and then the death at the close is unintentionally comedic and an anticlimax.

It’s a film unlike the last in the series that had the potential to be good but squandered it.

5/10

5 Franchises That Should’ve Been

Some films that are made seem to be begging for more, in other incarnations of this topic people have tended to focus more on the tie-in and merchandising potential and less on story. In this list you will see five films I think were just begging to be continued, expanded upon and elaborated more greatly. What are some of your favorites?

5. The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

Mark McKinney and Dave Foley in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (Paramount)

Why this film received such a cold shoulder and is largely overlooked is beyond me. The Kids in the Hall probably could’ve made a slew of films with a colon and their troupe’s effort following it in the title. They could’ve become the 90s incarnation of Monty Python. This film is hugely overlooked and vastly underrated. The franchise here is not the Brain Candy concept but rather the troupe’s brand of comedy transposed onto the big screen. Perhaps in the economically affluent, blasé, Generation X 90s a droll, snide stab at pharmaceutical companies and anti-depressants was not the way to go but it is hilarious. If you haven’t yet checked out their one and only feature length film to date please do. They still do shows and have appearances in Canada and each member does individual projects but perhaps the harsher times will reawaken the need for KITH as a unit.

4. Explorers

River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke and Bobby Fite in Explorers (Paramount)

While many do like it and it’s fine by me but not great, Explorers seems like the kind of film that would be better after a second installment when characters are already established and you can go deeper. Kids who design and build their own space craft and use it to travel to outer space; if this concept was developed today it’s an absolute certainty that it would be intended to be a series. Keep in mind that the original starred both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix before they really hit it big with any project so it could definitely been continued as a star-vehicle and could be one anew. It’s just a wonder they haven’t tried again…yet.

3. Flight of the Navigator

Joey Cramer in Flight of the Navigator (Disney)

Again I think era might’ve had something to do with this concept not being followed up. If Disney was making Flight of the Navigator today and made a cent of profit it certainly would become a series. I just think here the film opens up a whole can of worms that could be revisited, not that it necessarily should. In the film David played by Joey Cramer travels through space and thus time and comes back still looking twelve eight years later. There are just so many possibilities other complications this could cause and other planets to visit. This film may soon be off the list as a remake is in development and has been for some time.

2. Stephen King Projects

Colm Feore in Storm of the Century (Walt Disney Television)

OK, allow me to explain this selection. It’s basically a tie because one would be a film and the other could be a film following a mini-series and the mini-series, lost art form as that is, is kind of in a no man’s land in terms of film.

The first King property I’m surprised never turned into a series was Silver Bullet. It is without question one of the most accurate and best interpretations of a King book put on screen. Due in no small part to the fact that King wrote the script himself. It’s like Cycle of the Werewolf was plastered on celluloid. It’s great and considering some of the other werewolf films that were popular in the 80s it’s even more surprising. The possibility of a follow up to that tale is definitely a tantalizing idea to think about but King doesn’t have it on his docket.

The second would be a sequel of some kind to Storm of the Century, King’s first mini-series. Without giving anything away for those who haven’t seen it the ending is not open but rife with possibilities and considering that Linoge is one of his best villains, on par with Randal Flagg, and to see power transition from him to his protégé would be something.

1. The House by the Cemetery

Silvia Collatina in The House by the Cemetery (Anchor Bay)

One of Lucio Fulci’s best works and one that screamed to be continued more so than any of the Zombie films which are terribly overrated. The House by the Cemetery features a great villain a cruel, twisted doctor who is undead, practically immortal and of course can’t really be defeated not that much resistance has been put up against him. The ending of the film is open and you really are left to wonder what happens with Bob next. If an American had made it with better known actors it likely would’ve been a series one that would’ve gotten ridiculously long after a time but might’ve been enjoyable still reminiscent of the original Halloween cycle.

61 Days of Halloween- Amityville 3D

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.

Amityville 3D

Meg Ryan and Lori Loughlin in Amityville 3D (Orion)

Since the third installment of the Amityville series was shot in 3D that bears mentioning, only really because its 80s fare that you will likely not be watching as it was intended. For most of the film, however, you won’t really notice it as it doesn’t play to 3D in too many overt ways.

Even though for the most part the story is more lucid than the second installment and it can’t possibly be as stupid there is less of a trajectory for the protagonist so this installment, even though it is more of an emotional flat-line, does work better than the second.

Which is not to say it’s great. It isn’t, it’s bad as well but it is a watchable bad. The Doubting Thomas aspect that our lead has in this film last for far too long and the mother of the film’s first victim falls into a madness of denial we’re not geared up for based on the film so far and the execution.

As a whole its the most overacted installment. All that differentiates this is a more lucid plot, that hangs together better and appearances by both Lori Loughlin and Meg Ryan very early on in their careers.

3/10v

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.