Like every decade, growing up in the 80's had its good and bad points, politics and big hair aside of course. For film options, the 80's brought us some great guilty pleasure treasures, especially from the Horror genre. So in that frame of mind, I sat down to watch a "classic" from my childhood. The Stephen King penned "Children of the Corn" that also stars Linda Hamilton, just before she burst onto the scene in 1984's "The Terminator".
"Children of the Corn" is a story that surrounds a small Nebraska town by the name of Gatlin. The terror becomes unleashed when we learn of a boy preacher named Isaac Chroner (John Franklin) and his sidekick apprentice Malachai (Courtney Gains) who lead the town's youthful inhabitants to brutally murder all of Gatlin's adult population! With the town now controlled by mysterious forces and murderous youngsters, an unsuspecting couple; Burton (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) have the unfortunate luck of running into the creepy residents, while on route to the nearby town of Hemingford. With all roads leading to Gatlin and no way out, Burton and Vicky must confront the youngsters and fend for their survival as they attempt to deal with the bizarre surroundings and the evil lurking within the town's limits.
Well to be completely honest, "Children of the Corn" by no means had the same effect on me that it did back in 1984. After all of these years, the story does hold up quite well and the atmosphere of the film still offers a few chills. Only the cheesy special effects tend to date "Children of the Corn" as they do not age all that well. I never managed to check out the string of sequels that followed "Children of the Corn" and frankly am a little surprised at the larger fan base behind this rather average film. Never reading the original novel from Stephen King does not allow me the luxury of picking apart the accuracy of the story's transformation to the screen either. "Children of the Corn" accomplishes pretty much what it set out to do over twenty some years ago, as long as your expectations are not set too high.
The quality obsessed folks over at Anchor Bay Entertainment presents "Children of the Corn" as one of their titles being offered to the UMD format. Just like the handling of their DVD releases, Anchor Bay continues to live up to their level of superior transfers that we have become so accustomed to. "Children of the Corn" has a generally muted color pallet to begin with, but overall saturation provides a pleasing presentation. Black levels are solid producing good detail throughout the film's exhibition. Very minor evidence of film wear appears during the church scene where Amos (John Philbin) is engaging in his "passage" ceremony. You will notice the slightest red line towards the right of the screen that lasts a mere few seconds. By the time you notice it, it's gone. I have absolutely noting to report in the way of dust or dirt particles, or even video compression issues as they are completely non-existent within the transfer of "Children of the Corn" on UMD.
The soundtrack for "Children of the Corn" comes available in an English Stereo presentation only; there isn't even the option of subtitles, which I do find to be unacceptable. The Stereo presentation is generally pleasing, providing a good soundstage with naturally reproduced vocal tracks. Sound effects do appear slightly dated, but given the age of the film, the overall sound mix is quite effective.
Not surprising, there is no added value content. Really surprising is the decision to omit a separate menu for chapter selection. The UMD of "Children of the Corn" does come complete with individual chapters, but you must utilize the "forward" or "back" buttons on your PSP to access them.
Anchor Bay has completed another fine transfer with "Children of the Corn" for UMD, unfortunately that's all we get! No extras, no subtitles, not even a chapter menu! Unless you are a huge fan of "Children of the Corn", you might just want to pass on the UMD and stick with the DVD. If you feel the need to have a portable version of "Children of the Corn", consider the various legal options of transferring your DVD copy to a Memory Stick Duo for playback on your PSP.