Friday, October 25, 2013

Worth Mentioning - Sinning Most Vigorously

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Cody revisits '90s horror sequel rentals and is stunned into mentioning supernatural genitals.


Although eight years had passed between the makings of the first Children of the Corn movie and this sequel, part 2 begins very soon after the end of the 1984 original, perhaps even within hours. Three years after the children of Gatlin, Nebraska, under the leadership of boy preacher Isaac and at the command of their corn-based god He Who Walks Behind the Rows, rose up and murdered everyone in town over the age of 19, the stories related by the survivors of the previous film have finally brought the authorities and the media swarming into town.

The remaining children of Gatlin seem to be in a sort of daze, and when they're asked what happened in their town, what they saw, they all reply simply, "I saw the corn." Since Isaac and his right hand man Malachai were both killed during the climactic moments of the '84 film, and thus "those involved with the killings are dead", the surviving children face no criminal charges. Instead, they're bussed over to the nearby town of Hemingford, where some families have even graciously opened their homes to them, willing to adopt them. Many sympathize with the children and the horrible ordeal they've been through, though there are some dissenters who rage against the idea that these kids are going to get away with mass murder.

The characters we follow through the sequel are disgraced reporter John Garrett, who once worked for Newsweek covering events like the Jonestown mass suicide but now churns out nonsense for the tabloid rag World Enquirer. John has come to the Gatlin/Hemingford area to write an investigative report on what happened in Gatlin, and has brought along his teenage son Danny, with whom he has a very rocky relationship. They find a place to stay at a bed and breakfast in Hemingford run by Angela Casual, who has taken in a teenage boy from Gatlin named Micah.

At first, Micah comes off as meek, quiet and introverted. But as he walks through a cornfield during his first night in Hemingford, heading for the secret meeting the not-so-innocent children of Gatlin have arranged to have with each other, he encounters something horrific among the corn... And when he emerges, he has changed. He's strong, commanding, dark, and evil. He takes up the leadership role vacated by Isaac, preaching the word of He Who Walks Behind the Rows, and under his guidance the children set out to eradicate adults from the town of Hemingford as well.

While the first film got the adult massacre out of the way in its opening sequence, the murders of Hemingford's adults are carried out throughout the movie, and generally in more inventive ways that simple slashings with farm tools. The use of a voodoo doll gives a man the most horrendous nosebleed in history. These backwards farm kids somehow figure out how to take control of an elderly woman's electric wheelchair with an RC car's remote. That woman's sister, who plans to move her house out of Hemingford in protest of the children of Gatlin being brought in, is crushed by the house when the children release the hydraulics.

There are odd Wizard of Oz references with those two old women. As the house is dropped on the first "wicked witch" old lady, she cries out, "What a world, what a world!" After she's killed, her sister comes riding into town on her "broom"/wheelchair.

As John looks into the events that occurred in Gatlin, meeting up with and theorizing with Native American anthropologist Doctor Frank Redbear along the way and romancing Angela on the side, Danny spends his time falling in love at an accelerated rate with scooter-driving local teen Lacey Hellerstat, who used to go to school with the Gatlin kids. Cohabitating with Micah also pulls Danny into the cult activities, which I think is smart element to include. I'm kind of surprised Stephen King didn't give his outlanders who stumble across the horrors of Gatlin a child to possibly be swayed by the cult in his initial short story.

Strange elements to include are just how many alternative theories are presented to possibly explain what caused the children of Gatlin to turn homicidal. Redbear relates an old Native American legend about corn farming kids killing off lazy adults. There's poisonous toxic mold growing on old corn reserves that can have serious effects on people if it becomes airborne, including causing madness and hallucinations in children. If presented properly, the idea that all of this He Who Walks Behind the Rows stuff is entirely in the minds of children suffering from a medical condition could have been a very intriguing one, but all this theorizing is really a waste of time, because we know all along that there is something supernatural at work here. The first victims in the movie are killed not by the children but by the corn itself, we know there is a monstrous evil out there stalking among the stalks.

Despite all the questionable choices and things that don't quite work, I still find Children of the Corn 2 to be very good and entertaining. The story is interesting, the characters are involving and I especially like Frank Redbear, and the kills are fun. Director David Price and writers A.L. Katz and Gilbert Adler (regular contributors to the Tales from Crypt TV series) crafted a great follow-up to the story told in the first film.

I also have a nostalgic appreciation for the movie, because I can clearly remember when it first came out on VHS twenty years ago, renting it as soon as it became available, and then watching it a second time when my older sister rented it while I was spending the night at her house. I really enjoyed this movie when I was 9 years old, and I still enjoy it to this day.

Plus, the way Micah gets taken out is totally awesome and perfect for the movie.


"Death by anger, seared with pain. Soul who wanders, what is thy name? Entreat thy Lord from far below, breathe life anew into thy soul."

The legend of the vengeance-wreaking demon Pumpkinhead has long sent shivers down the spines of the residents of the backwoods community of Ferren Woods. But back in 1958, there was another, more tangible threat lurking around - a terribly disfigured young boy named Tommy. Tommy was really just a poor orphan kid, shunned by society and trying to survive, but rumor around town was that if you went out into the woods in which Tommy lived and he caught you, he would tear out your heart and eat it while you watched. The fact that the person who cared for Tommy the most, leaving dishes of food out for him as if he were a stray cat, was the local witch - called Haggis in the first movie, but known in this one as Miss Osie (or is she a different witch?) - didn't do Tommy's reputation any favors.

One day, the six teenagers who made up the high school auto club The Red Wings went out into the woods with the intention of ridding their town of this heart-eating little freak once and for all. They caught Tommy, they beat him merciless, the leader of the pack gleefully slashed him up with a switchblade, and then they dropped the young boy down an old iron mine shaft that was said to be bottomless.

Thirty-five years later, most of the Red Wings haven't gone on to amount to much, but their sadistic leader has become a judge and is raising a privileged son named Danny, a teenager who has inherited his father's troublemaking mean streak.

Jenny, the tough-acting-but-good-girl daughter of the town's new sheriff, gets mixed up with the bad crowd of Danny and his friends, and during a night out in the boonies, a series of accidents, mistakes, and bad choices leads the youths to causing the hospitalization of, and eventually the death of, Miss Osie. Not only that, but while snooping around in the witch's little shack, the teens discover a spell to bring back the dead and a vial of the blood of the damned to be used for the ritual... Looking for some "real danger" and "real excitement", Danny convinces his friends to dig up the stone-encircled grave that's on the witch's property and use the spell to revive the corpse within. The decomposing corpse of deformed little Tommy.

But Tommy doesn't come back as himself. He rises as Pumpkinhead and sets out to avenge his own death, stalking around Ferren Woods and knocking off the aged members of the Red Wings auto club one-by-one... and when he's done with that, Jenny, Danny, and their friends will pay for the death of Miss Osie.

As we'll come to find out, poor little Tommy looked the way he did because of who his father was... He was in fact The Son of Pumpkinhead! Vengeance demons need love, too.

Directed by Jeff Burr (Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Puppet Master 4 and 5, The Stepfather 2), Pumpkinhead 2 isn't quite the stylish and effective horror movie that its predecessor was. The budget feels lower, the tone is lighter, it's even too silly at times, but it's still an enjoyable creature feature kill fest.

The watchability of the movie is also enhanced by the novelty of its cast. It's full of familiar faces and names - Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser, Dirty Harry, Trancers III) plays the new sheriff of Ferren Woods, Ami Dolenz (Witchboard 2, Ticks, Miracle Beach) is the final girl Jenny, Gloria Hendry (Black Belt Jones, Live and Let Die) plays the town doctor, J. Trevor Edmond (Return of the Living Dead III) is Danny, Punky Brewster herself Soleil Moon Frye is in Danny's group, and the grown up Red Wings include R.A. Mihailoff (Hatchet II, Leatherface in TCM 3), Kane Hodder (Victor Crowley in the Hatchet series, Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13ths part 7 through X), and Joe Unger (TCM3, A Nightmare on Elm Street). There's also cameos by legendary '80s scream queen Linnea Quigley and, playing the town's money-minded Mayor Bubba, Roger Clinton, younger half-brother of former President of the United States Bill Clinton.

Burr knew that the draw of the movie was its titular monster, that anyone who was going to watch Pumpkinhead 2 was going to be wanting to see Pumpkinhead in action, and he didn't skimp on that, packing the movie with Pumpkinhead hero shots throughout the kill, attack, and chase scenes. It was the right call to make, and the man-in-suit monster is a glorious sight to behold.

"If you've been wronged, you can conjure Pumpkinhead to exact revenge in your name. But if you do, you'll be damned for all eternity."


Following an opening title sequence that plays out over shots of all sort of drugs raining down in front of a black backdrop, the film opens on a young man named Ray, sitting in his dorm room, mainlining what we can assume to be heroin. His high is interrupted by a knock at the door, and when he opens it, there stands a fully nude woman. Despite the fact that she's a complete stranger to him, she's immediately all over Ray, and he goes along with it. She informs him she intends to "F--- you 'til you die," which sounds like a good idea to Ray... until the point when, mid-makeout, the nude woman suddenly morphs into a filthy nude man with jagged, disgusting teeth and proceeds to literally rape Ray to death.

So begins this nasty, crazy movie from director Chad Ferrin, which follows a group of med school students, most of whom are not averse to trying out any pharmaceuticals they can get their hands on, including the experimental hallucinogen Taldon, while they try to deal with the fact that the sexually deviant serial killer couple John and Wilma Hopper, who were test subjects at their hospital back in the '70s, have apparently returned to the grounds via astral projection and are now out to kill the students.

As the death of Ray showed, the shapeshifting supernatural Hoppers are not your average slashers, instead they kill people with their monstrous genitalia - John raping people with a penis that is four inches in diameter and fifteen inches long, Wilma able to shove a person's entire head into her vagina, which can also bite them.

As the events are seen through the eyes of a bunch of drug-shooting, pill-popping characters, the style of the film is often altered to match their hallucinogenic experience, with flashy editing and manipulated sound.

Someone's Knocking at the Door is a very strange movie and at first I wasn't into it, but as it got crazier and crazier as it went along, I became more entertained by its insanity, and at the end of the day I couldn't go without mentioning an experience as interesting and unusual as watching this movie was.

With a great cast that includes Noah Segan, Ezra Buzzington, Elina Madison, and cameos by Joe Pilato, Lew Temple, Vernon Wells, and Trent Haaga, Someone's Knocking at the Door is worth checking out if you feel like watching something unique and grotesque.

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