January 27, 2017 This Week In Horror Movie History – Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1993)
This week in Horror movie history, back on January 29th of 1993, he who walks behind the rows returned in Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. Directed by David Price (Leprechaun 1993, Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde 1995), the sequel came nearly a decade following the 1984 original, Children of the Corn. Set out to continue the story of the previous film, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice opened in the USA up against Joe Dante directed Matinee and hit Action Thriller Sniper starring Tom Berenger. Historically a slow month for Horror film releases, interestingly enough, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice was one of a few big Horror releases that January, with the Price produced Leprechaun debuting a few weeks prior. An unexpected sequel, years later, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice remains the film that opened the gateway for a full-fledged Horror franchise.
Picking up directly where the original film left off, outsiders arrive in an abandoned Gatling, Nebraska to find the bodies of adults in various states of decomposition. Slaughtered by their children, news teams, police, and those from the adjacent town of Hemingford discover the horror, left questioning what happened.
Among the new arrivals in town, is a down on his luck reporter named John Garrett (Terence Knox: St. Elsewhere series, Tour of Duty series) and his disgruntled son Danny (Paul Scherrer: The Van Dyke Show series, Standoff 1998). Filled with animosity toward his father for having little role in his life, the two hardly get along.
Thrust into this mass murder scene in Gatling, John becomes compelled to learn more about the story and, in the process, becomes taken by a Hemingford woman by the name of Angela Casual (Rosalind Allen: Santa Barbara series, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult 1994). Compassionate for the children of Gatling, the bed and breakfast owning Angela takes in one of many orphaned Gatling boys; his name, Micah (Ryan Bollman: Only the Strong 1993, The Neverending Story III 1994). A quiet teenager, much like the other Gatling youths, Micah has a dark look about him, one that is uneasy from first glance.
As for the other children, many still gather in the corn fields, questioning their motives of slaughtering their families, wondering what truth has been uncovered. Clearly aggravating the evil in the corn fields, it tracks down a frightened Micah, possessing him, making him the next leader of the group following the demise of Isaac Chroner (John Franklin: The Addams Family 1991, Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return 1999). Now with a demonic Micah leading the way, the children of the corn are determined to snuff out all the adults in their way to provide blood to the fields and find their way.
Based on Stephen King’s short story, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice’s screenplay writers’, A L Katz and Gilbert Adler, objective was to provide more explanation and a more well-rounded story than the original film. In many aspects achieving such, there is more understanding of what has driven the children to such madness. The first film left these aspects a misery, perhaps adding more to the mystique, although by the time a sequel rolls around, many yearn for a more development story such as provided in Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice.
Speaking of sequels, many may raise the question, why was a sequel to Children of the Corn put into production so many years later? Well, allegedly, former New World executive Larry Kuppin picked up the rights to the franchise and quickly formed Trans Atlantic Entertainment. Doing so, he purposed the production of sequels to several New World Pictures films. They were, reportedly Hellraiser III, Wanted: Dead or Alive 2, Angel 4, Crimes of Passion 2, and yes, Children of the Corn II. Only three of the visions came to fruition; 1992’s Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, 1993’s Angel 4: Undercover, and Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. Interestingly enough, the original working title for the film was Children of the Corn II: Deadly Harvest, striking curiosity, why was it changed?
Distributed by Dimension Films in theaters, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice’s shooting began in August of 1991 down in Liberty, North Carolina. A beautiful backdrop for the film, many of the people used in scenes were locals, including many of the children.
Giving it a genuine look and feel, the professional cast including Knox, Scherrer, Allen and Bollman, along with Christie Clark as Lacey Hellerstat (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge 1985, General Hospital series), Ned Romero (Hang ‘Em High 1968, I Will Fight No More Forever 1975) as Frank Redbear, as well as Sean Bridgers (Sweet Home Alabama 2002, Deadwood series) as Jedediah did a fine job of portraying their characters. Particularly standing out was Bollman’s Micah, which was dramatic, passionate, and instilling a sense of fear into the audience.
While many felt, and continue to feel, a sequel to the original Children of the Corn film was completely unnecessary, the second installment is not without its fanbase. Just three years into a new decade, many kids who were too young to see the original film in 1984, knew of it from browsing the Horror section in their local video store. That said, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice aroused interest among these curious kids ranging from 12 to 14 years old.
For the aforementioned reason, it sparked an entire new generation compelled to see Children of the Corn films, thus seven more sequels were made through 2011’s Children of the Corn: Genesis, and now, Children of the Corn: Runaway is slated for sometime in 2017. With so many sequels, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice remains the last film in the franchise to ever be shown in theaters, the rest have all been direct to video releases.
Not without its flaws, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice is not nearly as bad as some cynics like to make it out to be. In fact, on an estimated budget of $900,000 it took in nearly $7,000,000 in the USA alone. Not bad for a sequel many allegedly had no interest in. The story is interesting enough to keep audience’s attention, the actors are strong enough to give it a backbone, and the kills are entertaining enough to give it an R-rating.
Speaking of kills, no Horror film is complete without at least one memorable murder, and Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice accomplishes such with the unforgettable scene where Micah controls a wheelchair-bound granny, like a remote control car, directly her to death while his cult of children follow close behind.
Drawing in its share of on screen kills, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice also has an underlying theme beyond horror. That theme could be viewed at the importance to protect ourselves, land, and family. This is foreshadowed with the father/son relationship between John and Danny. All that in mind, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice may not be the best sequel ever, but it also certainly is not the worst.