Saturday, March 1, 2014

Children Of The Corn V: Fields Of Terror (1998)

As I make my way through the Children Of The Corn Collection (yes, that’s what the DVD menu calls it), I can’t help but think something is seriously wrong with me. It’s 2 a.m., and I am starting another of these films. Why am I not doing some writing? Or maybe my taxes? Or trying to clean my place and organize my life? But I started watching this collection, and now I feel a need to keep going, to see it through. I’m committed, or should be.

And so the movie begins. As a hand reaches down and clutches a rose, crushing the flower, the film’s title comes on the screen: Children Of The Corn V: Fields Of Terror. Uh-oh. A moment later, Alexis Arquette’s name appears, and I get excited, thinking maybe this is a post-transition period film for her. Fred Williamson is also in this one. And David Carradine. Okay, I’m once again hopeful. This is going to be a good one.

But then it begins. A boy walks through a corn field, and comes upon a fire. Curious about it, he stands there, watching. But then the fire leaps out and strikes him, knocking him down. When he opens his eyes, the fire is in there.

Then we cut to one year later, and it’s raining. A couple is inside, having dinner. The man says he found another murdered heifer by the property line. A noise outside gets the man interested, and he meets the boy, Fire Eyes. Fire Eyes uses telekinesis to lift the man into the air, where he is struck by lightning. Children then surround the woman and kill her.

The next day – or some day, we don’t really know when – some obnoxious people in their twenties show up in a couple of cars. Laszlo (played by Ahmet Zappa, Frank’s son – Ahmet’s sister Diva is in this film too) is in the first car and has a collection of inflatable sex dolls, which he leaves like a trail of breadcrumbs along the road for the people in the second car to follow. His girlfriend, Charlotte, runs into the cornfield to gather some corn, and apparently gets far enough away in a matter of seconds to not hear Laszlo when he shouts for her. Charlotte is soon dead, and Laszlo sees some children around her corpse, and runs. Fire Eyes is in charge of the group, and doesn’t seem to have aged at all in the intervening year.

The second car crashes in a ditch at the edge of the corn, and so those four walk into town. When they get to a bar, one of the patrons fills them in on the story so far – that a bunch of adopted kids are working on a farm where there are spontaneous fires, and that they’re all religious fanatics. “They all worship some fellow they call He Who Walks Behind The Clouds, or something like that.” Close enough. Allison, one of two girls from the car, suddenly perks up, because she’s heard of this He Who Walks fellow, and smartly wants to leave immediately.

The town sheriff is played by Fred Williamson, but he’s no help to the group because the town’s one tow truck is being repaired. So they decide to abandon their car and take a bus to the city. But they miss the bus, partly due to the other girl, Kir, who is kind of a whiny bitch who can’t run in heels. She’s played by Eva Mendez (yes, that’s the spelling in the credits, not Mendes), whom a lot of guys think is attractive. I’ve never thought so, and her shitty acting in this film certainly doesn’t help matters. Anyway, they go back to their car, and find that it’s on fire. It’s actually Greg’s car. Greg is played by Alexis Arquette, so sadly he’s still a man at this point in his career.

Anyway, they decide to sleep in a nearby house and catch the morning bus to the city. They figure the house is abandoned, even though all the beds are made and there’s food in the cupboard and beer stocked in the basement. They have dinner and reminisce about their dead friend Kurt, who died in a Bungee jumping accident. “That was Kurt – he was a free spirit,” one of them says fondly. Allison then tells everyone it wasn’t an accident, that she found a suicide note, news which upsets the annoying whiny girl, Kir. And now that Allison has opened up about the suicide, she just can’t stop divulging stuff – that her father was an alcoholic, that she left home and never went back, that her brother Jacob ran away, and that her brother told her he planned to dedicate his life to He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Well, at least he didn’t become a Scientologist. (And, guess what, there’s a shot of a full moon.)

That night Allison and Greg wander out into the cornfield because they hear a noise. You know, not every noise needs to be investigated. I hear things all the time, and I think, “What the hell is that?” And then after a moment I forget about it, and go on with my day. Why do folks in horror films feel a need to look into every little sound they hear? If it's in your own home, then sure, I could understand why you might be inclined to investigate. But if it's out in a cornfield, at night, when you yourselves are trespassing, staying in someone else's house without that person's knowledge, then maybe just let it go. It's not your cornfield. Why do you care who's out there? And why would you want to call attention to your presence? You're trespassing. You're the bad guys in the immediate situation, so keep a low profile, guys. Anyway, they find the bodies of Charlotte and Laszlo.

The next day Fred Williamson tosses the bodies into the back of a pickup truck. But he thinks their deaths were from some kind of accident, that this entire group got drunk and was fooling around with farming equipment. Okay. Did the group bother to tell him that someone set their car on fire? I guess not.

Allison wants to stay so she can try to find her brother. So the four of them stick together, walking through the corn. And within one minute, Fire Eyes agrees to take them to see Jacob. That was easy. Fire Eyes leads Allison inside a house, where she meets David Carradine (finally). His greeting to her is: “The outsiders call me a monster, a molester, a lunatic.” He goes on to call himself a savior of the children. He’s also the only adult so far in the series to worship He Who Walks Behind The Rows.

Meanwhile outside, there is a very weird cut where Greg walks out of frame to the left and then back into frame in the center from a distance. It’s so odd, I had to watch it a few times. One of the older children flirts with the whiny girl, trying to get her to join the cult. He must have some kind of impact, because she decides to join the children, and then immediately sacrifices herself by throwing herself into the fire they keep at the bottom of a silo. Good riddance.

Allison finally sees her brother and wishes him a happy birthday. He tells her that’s not until tomorrow. Wow, she hasn’t seen him in years, but randomly finds him the day before his eighteenth birthday. Clearly, there should be a big dance party scene. (By the way, if I recall correctly, in other films, it was the nineteenth birthday that was special for the kids. For some reason, that was been changed for this film.) Fred Williamson then decides to help Allison, and shows up at Carradine’s house with a search warrant, while two firemen show up to put out that nasty silo fire. But Carradine’s head splits open and fire shoots out, killing Williamson. Okay, then.

Well, after a while, Fire Eyes decides it’s time for his group to drink the magic punch and join He Who Walks Behind The Rows, so he leads them to the silo. So they all would have killed themselves, except that Allison is already there with bags of fertilizer and a can of gasoline and some plan to fight fire with fire. Earlier a couple of firemen tried to fight fire with water, the more normal thing, and the fire became angry, and rushed out to greet them, killing them before they could even turn on their hoses. So judging by that reaction, I’d say water would have worked as well. Of course, Allison could have simply walked away, and these stupid children would have gone ahead and killed themselves anyway. But instead, she has a fight with ol’ Fire Eyes, and he falls into the fire, joining He Who Walks Behind The Rows. And somehow Allison’s plan of dumping the gas can and fertilizer into the fire works, and the fire goes out.

And then, because horror movies feel some pressure to end on a final scare (which is almost always the dumbest thing in the film), Allison goes to take care of the baby that Jacob’s cult wife had, and suddenly it’s eyes have fire in them.

Oh boy.

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