Friday, June 5, 2015

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

Well, the Chldren of the Corn series slogs on. This one is called Urban Harvest, which sounds like a really stupid rap album based around a bad Goosebumps book or something. You can definitely see that being the point where some poor sap of a 1990s rapper's career would jump the shark.

Hell, I'm astounded they didn't have any rap songs in this movie's soundtrack. For 1995, that's kind of like being the one gold miner who didn't feel like getting rich in the late 1800s.

Director: James D.R. Hickox
Starring: Daniel Cerny, Ron Menendez

Co-written with Michelle.

This one begins with a sort of rushed telling of a usual story for this series – a teenage kid, Joshua, is being chased around by his drunken, abusive father in the country. His father uses what most drunken, abusive parents do – a giant scythe, and he swings it like a maniac as his terrified son runs for his life through the cornfields.

Tough love, at its finest.

Ah yes...just part of the usual parenting regimen. Doing dishes, doing chores... chasing them around with a giant scythe for no reason.

Luckily he gets helped by something even better than child protective services – we get Eli, a strange kid who has the power of conjuring up dark mystical forces that I'm sure Sam Raimi would sue for if he wasn't already a dozen times richer than anyone in this movie:

Well, it's not exactly tree rape Evil Dead style - his clothes are still on...

Eli and Joshua, for some unstated reason, decide to go to Chicago and let themselves be adopted. Why? Isn't the whole idea of this series that the children don't need adults and want to just live on their own drooling and eating corn all day out in the middle of nowhere? I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but the kids in the previous two films were very much content with doing that. And this one takes place in the same town, Gatlin, that the other ones were in. So my guess is just that Eli is so annoying and douchey that none of the other kids (of the corn) want anything to do with him, so he has to go to the city to find anybody to hang out with.

The parents they get are apparently leftover stale 80s stereotypes. The mother is a personality-free cardboard cut-out with big hair and screams a lot. The father is a mulleted douchebag businessman who wears suits and does stupid things like adopt two children and then, as soon as they get in the house, says “just remember to knock before you come to our room at night.”

"Honey, we're going to make sweet, sweet love right across the hall from you all night long."

Yup, he adopted two children just to tell them he and his wife will be having loud, constant sex in the night while they're there. Hell, I'll go a step further – I think the only reason they adopted these kids was because knowing impressionable and abandoned kids are sleeping in the other room, turns them on more. Real libido booster, there. You goddamn fucking weirdos.

"Moan louder, they need to hear this!"

Eli is able to match the bizarreness, though, when the mom sees that his suitcase is full of cockroaches – which is a typical carry-on for kids who used to live in cornfields, but the mom's delicate big-city disposition just can't handle it. The dad, though, sees a bunch of ears of corn when he opens it – you know; sometimes you see ears of corn and other times you see cockroaches. That's just the diversity of life.

Either way, I think we can all agree the mom needs to go to a mental asylum and chill out. Especially after the next scene where, while again having sex with her husband, she has a hallucination of having a mouthful of dirt. I mean, I've heard of weird fetishes, but eating dirt before making out? Ew, just ew.

"Ahhhh! Phew, that's the same dream I've had all my life, about dirt coming out of my mouth. How awful."

Meanwhile, Eli grows a bunch of corn in the dangerous creepy old abandoned, almost surely haunted, warehouse directly behind their house. If you're wondering why the department of children and families would let two kids go live right near something so obviously hazardous, or why a house would be built in such a weird place at all, well, you're thinking too hard.

Did I say grows corn? I meant takes it out of a suitcase. You slacker.

And while you were thinking too hard about this dumb-ass movie, Eli killed a homeless man and used him to make super good corn. I guess homeless people are nutritional.

All the people who talk about GMOs would also do well to pick up the cause of homeless people used as fertilizer. It's seriously a problem.

The father comes over and eats some of the corn right there without washing it or anything, just right from the ground, because, I guess after making out with a woman who eats dirt, anything seems better.

"Mmmm, tastes as black and filthy as my soul."

He decides that the corn is so good he can take it to his work and sell it to Germany, even going over the head of his boss. What's that? You don't care and are wondering why this scene is in the movie? Yeah, me too. Skip it!

We then see they go to an inner-city school where kids are just allowed to bring knives in just in case they want to get in huge fights with their classmates. School security was lax back then. But don't worry – all they really do is shove each others' chests and get close enough to kiss if they wanted to, without actually hitting one another. Like most school fights, ya know.

Just kiss him, you fool.

Also, if you’re wondering why some of these kids are dressed like clown pimp gangsters with colors bright enough to be in a Skittles commercial - well, it was the 90s. Just leave it be.

So I guess for the rest of the film is taken up by Eli somehow, mysteriously, winning over every kid in the school to his werdo corn religion, worshiping He Who Walks Behind the Rows. I’m guessing nobody had much imagination when writing this, because it’s seriously unbelievable that any kid would follow him. Yeah - I’m sure a bunch of streetwise Chicago kids are gonna want to join up with some weird Amish-looking kid who worships a Lovecraftian corn deity on a whim; that's fucking realistic.

Well, everyone except Joshua, anyway. He’s too busy having sex with the neighbor girl. I just love how hackneyed and random this scene is - it’s like hey, you survived this long into the movie and had to watch the parents fuck, so here’s a scene of two attractive people doing the same thing. That’s your reward.


Most of the other scenes are just Eli ripping off The Omen and doing a particularly poor job of it. Hard to really be scared of this movie when most of it has been done 15 years prior and much better. And how many more scenes do we really need in any movie of a creepy kid leering at adults and then eventually killing them? Is someone really sitting around in a dank-ass apartment writing this and going 'oh yeah, THIS is really original'?

I guess eventually they catch onto what Eli is doing after he makes a common mistake for wannabe cult leaders and crucifies a priest using cornstalks and other wildlife. Damn. That has ruined so many aspiring cult leaders!

"Kid, you're really not very good at acting like a creepy older person. Quit watching The Godfather so much and instead, just take acting lessons."

So Joshua and his girlfriend’s brother go off to Gatlin again to find this magic Necronomicon-esque book that might solve the whole thing. To do this, they first have to fight this horrific abomination:

"Quick, use your football moves on him!"

Seriously, what the hell is that? It looks like a bunch of straw stuck together with human vomit and then a Jack ‘O’ Lantern’s face was drawn over it. Someone tell the neighborhood alchemist not to get drunk next time he makes something.

Also, the girlfriend’s brother dies stupidly before they leave. Farewell, whatever your name was! You were a valiant soul to try and survive in a movie this stupid.

Back in Chicago, we get a scene where Eli is mobilizing his cult to go and, I dunno, eat lots of corn on the cob or something. It’s probably something more violent than that, but really, does it deserve any more dignified write-up? No. Joshua shows up and announces that the only way he can kill Eli is by destroying the book AND him at the same time. Which I’m pretty sure he just made up on the spot. I mean, how lazy can you get? This was literally never mentioned in the film before.

Joshua also makes a reference to the situation being like killing a worm by cutting off its head. Yes. That IS what it's like. Heh heh... but yeah, this is just the kind of clever writing we have in this movie, and I am basking in its glow like a person lying for hours in a manmade tanning box... and getting cancer from it.

"Now part like the sea in an extremely hackneyed and contrived way to let this lone dissenter through! Yes, my minions, go now and do so!"

Eli dies, but then He Who Walks Behind the Rows arrives, looking like something Ray Harryhausen would have made when he was tired after a three-day mountain hike and wanted to go to bed. The kids all wake up from their hypnotized trances and then they all start getting eaten.

Imagine if the Harry Potter films had CGI like this.

And wait a second - they were under a trance that whole time? Really? I couldn’t fucking tell, and I’m not even sure you made an attempt to tell us, movie. Sometimes I wonder why I even try to put this much effort to review these things, for how little effort they actually put into making them. I could just post a picture of a potato, no other context, and that would be appropriate enough to sum up half the movies I watch.

Only the potato is more interesting.

Anyway, the girlfriend character stabs the monster, but I guess that’s all she had - it turns around and eats her immediately. But then Joshua stabs it like once and that ends the whole thing. My favorite part about this is that she's actually alive inside the monster still and escapes completely fine, as if nothing happened. I guess his digestion is really fucking slow and his teeth really fucking soft, like pillows.

Or she's related to that guy from Jaws: The Revenge last week who also escaped being eaten by a monster...yeah, I'm going with that one.

Everyone goes home, wondering how best they can forget the unearthly abominations they have just witnessed. The possibilities are endless for them. Will they partake in alcohol, weed, LSD, cocaine? Who knows?

The movie is unsatisfactory. On every level of story, character and relevance, it gets an F. The effects can be kind of fun, but they aren’t enough to save it. Overall, like in any urban school, this movie deserves to be swirlied in the bathroom - head completely shoved in a toilet and flushed. That’s all Urban Harvest deserves. I have written it, it is my grade, and so it shall be carried out.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.