Friday, February 28, 2014

Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest opens with Joshua being chased through the corn by his angry, drunk dad. Joshua finds his younger brother Eli out in the corn, and Eli has stolen their father’s old suitcase. The suitcase's absence from the home is apparently what angered their father in the first place, leading to this late-night chase. Was he planning a trip? Well, no matter. The corn then grabs drunk daddy and turns him into a scarecrow.  The boys are then placed in foster care in Chicago. They arrive by Greyhound, so there’s a good chance their luggage was lost. Well, you can take the children out of the corn, but…

The boys are clearly evil, because right away they break a little glass statue even after William, their foster father, tells them it’s expensive. And then they get upset when their foster parents start to eat pizza without saying grace. Eli is also upset that there is no corn in the yard. Next door is an old, abandoned factory (and yes, that’s just how Williams describes it). Oh boy.

Eli packed well. Amanda, his foster mother, opens his suitcase to find it full of bugs. When Williams opens it, he finds it full of ears of corn. Either way, it’s unclear just what Eli’s going to wear. The first night Eli sneaks into the old, abandoned factory with his suitcase. Watch the entire brick wall shake as he climbs through a hole. Wow. Eli then takes an ear of corn from his suitcase, and breaks off kernels and tosses them into the dirt, offering them to He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Apparently He Who Walks Behind The Rows is also He Who Hangs Out In Old, Abandoned Factories, for there is an immediate reaction.

Joshua plays basketball with some of the other kids, and is actually good at the game. But when Eli shows up, all upset, Joshua leaves with him. Eli has some serious abandonment issues, asking Joshua not to play basketball. But that’s not all that’s wrong with Eli. He grows corn in the old, abandoned factory and talks to the corn, and then directly to the camera. Weird kid.

The priest who runs the school eats a bug and then has a nightmare about the original massacre in Gatlin. Eli then gets up to deliver a sermon against adults to the other kids, who are all Joshua’s age. Where are the other kids in Eli’s class? We actually never see Eli in class, so maybe he has no classmates and is the only boy his age in the school. Who knows?

We learn that Joshua and Eli aren’t really related. Eli was adopted. No wonder why this kid has issues. A woman with social services calls Amanda because she was going over some old files and found a newspaper photo of Eli. Eli looks the same age in the photo, which shows him and other children watching as the bodies of their parents are found. So the photo is from 1984?

William meanwhile thinks he can make millions by marketing the special corn that Eli is growing. But that same corn steals Amanda’s sneakers, and soon she slips and dies. It’s not like she had much to live for without those sneakers anyway.

The priest has another nightmare, but it shouldn’t scare him all that much because it’s a scene from Children Of The Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. And the next day none of the students is friendly to him. The kids have started listening to Eli and begin to believe all the crazy religious stuff he’s spouting. It’s a little bit unbelievable that teenagers in Chicago would start believing a religious child. Instead of playing basketball, they all gather in the old, abandoned factory to hear Eli preach, listening to him rant about He Who Walks Behind The Rows. The original film was believable because it was the older kids who led the younger ones, and they were all hicks anyway, with nothing better to do. It was fucking Nebraska. This is Chicago.

The priest has another nightmare. His first was about the killings from the beginning of the original film. The second was a murder from the second film. So now that he’s all caught up in the series, his third nightmare can be something new. It’s about some kids burning a couple in their bed.

Hey, that newspaper article is from 1964, not 1984. What gives? The social worker mailed it to Amanda before she died. That’s some mighty slow mail. As Amanda is now dead, Joshua opens the package, and learns that Eli is a bit older than he looks. Apparently, Eli is Satan or something, and the only way he can be killed is by destroying his bible, which he left in Gatlin. But if he’s Satan, why does he worship He Who Walks Behind The Rows? Not that he claims to be Satan. He doesn’t. He implies it by telling the priest, You know who I am. So Joshua and his friend drive from Chicago to Nebraska, grab the book and drive back, apparently all in one evening. Actually, Joshua drives back to Chicago alone, because his friend dies in the cornfield. Good thing he left the keys in the ignition.

And then at the end, after Joshua has made the leap that Eli is like a worm and needs to be killed simultaneously with the book (don’t ask), a big monster shows up to kill all the kids who have gathered, which of course makes absolutely no sense. But it looks hilarious. Even more hilarious is the shot where the monster picks up a girl named Maria. What the creature actually picks up is clearly a cheap doll whose arms remain stationary, even as the monster waves it around a bit. And there is the sound of Maria screaming, which adds to the humor. It’s seriously totally funny.

So, what else is good about this film? Well, Charlize Theron, my favorite African-American actor, is in it. It’s her first film, and she’s an extra, uncredited, but with some great close-ups near the end. And someone did a little ADR, so it seems like she’s saying the monster caught her.

By the way, both Amanda and William are dead by the end of the film. The moral of the story is clearly that it is a bad idea to adopt children.

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