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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Children of the Corn: Revelation
Children of the Corn: Revelation
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // R // October 9, 2001
List Price: $32.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 27, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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I went through a Stephen King phase in junior high, during which I scoured bookstore shelves and local libraries, gorging on as much of the prolific author's work as I could possibly stand. King's anthologies interested me more than his full-length novels, and I read Skeleton Crew and Night Shift in particular more times than I'd care to count. Night Shift spawned a ridiculous number of shorts and feature length films, including Cat's Eye, The Boogeyman, Graveyard Shift, The Lawnmower Man (if in title only), Trucks, Maximum Overdrive, The Mangler, The Woman In The Room, and, perhaps not surprisingly, given the title of this review, Children of the Corn. In turn, Children, which was padded to feature length from a short story first published in "Penthouse", begat a direct-to-video franchise of its own. After acquiring the license in 1994, Dimension Films released installments on a nearly annual basis, kicking off with Children of the Corn: Urban Harvest through its seventh entry, Children of the Corn: Revelation.

Most lagging horror series seem to get their second wind with the seventh installment. Take the interminable Friday the 13th franchise. Out of ten films gutted to snag the coveted R rating from the MPAA, only The New Blood inspired a high-profile petition for an uncut DVD release from Paramount. Halloween: H20, despite its indescribably weak title, pumped a few gasps of air into the Shape after two dead-on-arrival sequels, and the lackluster Nightmare on Elm Street series experienced its first burst of creativity in quite a while with the return of Heather Langenkamp and writer/director Wes Craven in New Nightmare. Okay, maybe three examples aren't enough to make such a broad generalization, but I can't think of any other horror series offhand that have had this many installments. Anyway, I was kind of expecting something similar from Children of the Corn: Revelation, since the two or three reviews of the movie I stumbled upon online were fairly positive. Interestingly, the majority of the plot summaries floating aimlessly around cyberspace are completely inaccurate, describing some sort of FBI investigation in Nebraska. There's nothing of the sort here, nor is there any great "revelation" that fans of the series may have been anticipating. Nope, nearly every moment of the scant 82 minute runtime of Revelation takes place in a decrepit apartment building, where Jamie (Claudette Mink) is investigating the disappearance of her grandmother. There are a handful of suitably eery kids who silently creep around the place, unconvincingly laughing off-camera in a dismal attempt to unsettle the audience. After unsuccessfully turning to the local authorities for help, Jamie chats up the wacky cast of one-note stereotypes that litter the condemned dump, including such no-budget mainstays as the stoner, a stripper whose accent would sound more in place in Toronto than the heartland of Nebraska, a foul-mouthed and wheelchair-bound veteran, and the gun nut. None of these characters advance the story, spending just enough time on-screen to be introduced and offed in some laughably cheap fashion. So, Jamie flits around her grandmother's apartment, awaiting her return while her neighbors are knocked off, until the special-effects extravaganza at the end. By "extravaganza", I'm referring to computer generated corn stalks, of course.

I admittedly haven't really kept up with the Children of the Corn series. The original with Linda Hamilton is resting comfortably on one of my DVD racks, and I've caught a few minutes of some of the sequels here and there on cable, but I haven't felt compelled to seek out any of the other films on video or DVD. I can't say that sitting through Revelation has inspired any such interest. That's not to say that this is a particularly bad movie. Director Guy Magar took the traditional no-budget, direct-to-video, paint-by-numbers approach, resulting in an uninvolving, unremarkable film that doesn't offer even the most fleeting glimpse of terror or suspense. If we can't have a remotely interesting cast of characters in a cheap horror flick, the least I'd expect is for them to be gruesomely murdered in interesting and inventive ways. No such luck here, with nearly all of the deaths conveniently occurring off-screen, and the body count is pretty paltry anyway. The effects are pretty poor all around and, aside from a writing cornstalk in a bathtub, limited to the last twenty minutes or so of the film. Claudette Mink isn't really leading lady material, despite her frequent and failed attempts to be tantalizing and sexy, and the chemistry between Jamie and Detective Whatshisname is entirely lacking. This is the sort of movie where anyone whose horror collection is in the double digits can predict exactly what's going to happen from scene to scene, ranging from the order in which characters are going to be killed to seemingly insignificant characters returning to save our heroine when things look most dire. The only reaction I had during the entire length of the film -- well, aside from laughter, of course -- was when Topless Tiffany nicked herself while shaving. It was wholly unsurprising, telegraphed well in advance, but for some reason, that sort of thing always makes me wince. There's no gore, unless you count a hilariously bad severed head whose presence seemed tacked on as an afterthought, and although the children brandish the same sort of farm-themed weapons from the original, they're never used. The creepy ambiance of the original is lacking in Revelation, and the half-hearted attempts to duplicate it here failed across the board. Heck, there's not even much corn. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Revelation started life as an entirely different movie, with some corn stalks, a quick reference to Gatlin, and the phrase "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" spouted off a few times to hammer this square peg into the Children of the Corn series.

Video: Despite not seeing any sort of theatrical release, Children of the Corn: Revelation is presented in anamorphic widescreen, at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer's solid, typical of Buena Vista's DVD output. No flecks or print flaws mar the film's appearance, nor did I notice any aperature correction or compression artifacts. The amount of grain is neither intrusive nor surprising, and it was only particularly noticeable in a single quick bedroom shot. Although the color palette is limited, given that the film almost entirely takes place in a dingy, dank condemned apartment building, saturation and the like seem to be dead on. The only bright hue in the entire film is, perhaps not surprisingly, green, and it only pops up in a couple of CG shots and eminating from some unseen source outside a bedroom window. A respectable effort.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on Children of the Corn: Revelation is decent enough as well. Though this mix isn't aggressive and there aren't any flashy split-surround effects with audio bouncing gleefully from channel to channel, surrounds do get a fair workout. Though the faux-laughter that comprises most of the ambiance is a waste, its placement in the soundstage fares a bit better. The LFE lies dormant for the most part, and even after turning the level on my subwoofer up and replaying a few minutes of the film, the explosions near the end lack any strength or resonance. I made the mistake of watching this film and Swordfish back-to-back, so perhaps my lack of enthusiasm is based on an unfair comparison to the thoroughly impressive audio in that Warner title. The presentation here is more than passable given the material, though.

Supplements: Just trailers for the other four Children of the Corn movies from Dimension, along with previews for Mimic 2, Dracula 2000, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, and Halloween: H20. By the way, who's that guy in the 'Sneak Peeks' screen? He wasn't in the movie.

Conclusion: Children of the Corn: Revelation might be worth a rental to some, well-suited to wasting away the remaining hours of a lazy Sunday night, but one viewing ought to be enough for most. Considering the hefty list price of $32.99, I don't think Dimension is really expecting a huge turnout at Best Buy anyway. This is the sort of movie I'd passively watch on cable, but I can't fathom shelling out that much cash to own it. If you can't resist the urge to give Children of the Corn: Revelation a peek, rent it.
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