It’s not very often that you get a chance to see a horror flick where the children are the enemy. It’s not very often you get a chance to see the children being possessed by a renegade kid who speaks of some mystical deity. It’s also not very often that you see children worshiping a false god while living in a secluded section of their town contemplating on killing their parents. I am of course not talking about Children of the Corn, but rather a cult classic from Troma Entertainment called Beware! Children at Play. It would be easy to get the two confused since their premise is pretty similar although if anything, Troma’s movie acts as sort of a prequel to what would be Children of the Corn. Renegade children being led by somebody who is clearly out of his mind, although there doesn’t seem to be any real hint of supernaturalism in Troma’s movie. But the similarities between the two movies are uncanny and I think that Troma did a somewhat good job of parodying King’s story.
Children of the Corn takes place somewhere in Nebraska and Beware! Children at Play takes place somewhere in the rural South. People who have a strong belief in Christianity apparently populate both towns but it’s never directly seen in Children of the Corn… only stated. Each town is secluded from any type of large populated area and people that stumble into it have that city quality to them. In Children of the Corn, the couple that ends up getting involved with everything seems to have that city quality to them considering they are on their way to Seattle. In Beware! Children at Play, though I don’t think the protagonist family ever states where they are from I think they scream “suburbia” in just the way they dress. While most of the town’s men dress in plaid flannel shirts, t-shirts, overalls or work coats, the father of the family is wearing a nice blue polo shirt. I think these are all just really over-analyzed observations that I am making, but the real similarities are when comparing the two groups of brainwashed children.
See, both groups of kids are seriously screwed up and believe in their leaders insane rambling, however it makes more sense in Children of the Corn because there is actually a supernatural creature that lives in the corn. Further investigation states that the monster is actually one of King’s great villains known as Randall Flagg who appears as the main antagonist in The Stand. In Beware! Children at Play, there doesn’t really appear to be any type of supernatural force. Some kid, 10 years prior to the film’s current setting, decides to become a cannibal after eating his literature-teaching father who was caught in a bear trap for survival. Now that somehow gave this kid incentive to kidnap the rest of the town’s kids to brainwash them by reciting Beowulf lines. It makes no sense but I guess in this world, young rural children are easily persuaded into killing and eating their parents by simply reading Beowulf. Their base of operations looks like a kid-friendly reenactment of a Native American village with teepees and bonfire pits. I get it, it probably looks makeshift because the movie is very indie and honestly I can’t complain about it.
But what about the leaders of both groups? Well, before I get into that lets talk about their “martyr” so to speak. The children in the corn worship a god named “He Who Walks Behind the Rows,” and their sub-god (I guess) is the Blue Man who happens to be the rotting corpse of a mailman. It’s creepy and very disturbing. Now, the children of Grendel worship their leader named Glen Randall (bad pun) and their “sub-god” appears to be the rotting corpse of Glen’s dad, the one who got his foot caught in the bear trap. It’s not disturbing so much as it makes you say, “Oh you kids and your crazy fads.” The similarities between The Blue Man and Glen’s dad is pretty uncanny because they are both rotting corpses who are being hunt on crosses that oversee the entire camp. Now the leader of the children of the corn is Isaac, who happens to be one of the creepiest ominous kids in the horror genre. His right-hand man is Malachi, the long red-haired teen who swings his machete around screaming, “Outlander!” The children of Grendel’s leader is also some long-haired teen who doesn’t seem to pose any type of threat and doesn’t, in any way, look scary or ominous. Other than using kids to kidnap women to rape, his motivations aren’t as creepy as Isaac’s or Malachi’s. They even go as far as to shout the same infamous quote, “Outlander!”
I don’t think I also mentioned that both cults are set up in a relatively secluded area of the town; a cornfield and the woods. But you know what Children of the Corn was missing that Beware! Children at Play had? That’s right, a montage of pointless child homicide. Yep, the townsfolk are convinced that God has turned their kids against them as a test to see if they will kill them in his name… they are that deluded over the bible. I think they even recite a story in the bible, the story of Abraham who killed his son to prove his allegiance to God. So the townsfolk gather their things, invade the camp and begin shooting, maiming, stabbing and cutting their children in one of the most hilariously bad massacres I’ve ever seen. I’m kidding; Children of the Corn didn’t need that because it was actually good. As much as this movie is really bad, I found myself enjoying it at times because it has that distinct 80’s low-budget feel that makes me feel all nostalgic.