Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice

Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice movie posterIt was a bold decision by the producers of the second Children of the Corn movie to place the word “Final” in the subtitle. Most horror series defer that kind of certitude until the fourth movie, at least. Perhaps they never envisioned that their property would ramble on as a direct-to-video franchise, and this flick was supposed to be a one-shot deal. After all, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice was released in 1992, eight years after the first film. That pace is a little sluggish if one is looking to spawn a franchise of shitty horror movies. Anyway…

Final Sacrifice, despite that wide gap in release dates, takes place in the aftermath of the first film. Apparently, after the protagonists of that film made good their escape from the small town of Gatlin, Nebraska, they did the right thing and called the cops. Authorities swarming over Gatlin is how this film opens. With the baddies of the first film, Isaac and Malachai, done away with, everyone thinks that the evil influence they had on the children of Gatlin is gone, as well. The remaining children are taken into the homes of adults in nearby Hemingford, while they await permanent placement with surviving relatives, should any be found.

Meanwhile, father and son Garrett and Danny (Terence Knox and Paul Scherer) are passing through the area. Garrett is a journalist who lost a good job, and has been writing for supermarket tabloids of late. His son wants nothing to do with him, as Garrett left he and his mom many years earlier. They have been thrust together in this film to snap at each other and annoy the audience. But, the trip is not all bad for Danny, as he catches the eye of local hottie Lacey (Christie Clark), who wants nothing more than to flee small town life before she withers and dies.

Garrett learns of what happened in Gatlin and, in desperate need of a good story, arranges to stay at a bed and breakfast owned by Angela (Rosalind Allen). She, in turn, has taken in this film’s antagonist, young Micah (Ryan Bollman), a Gatlin survivor who is hoping to carry on Isaac’s legacy in Hemingford, and make it the next sacrificial killing ground to “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” Got all that? Good. Let’s move on.

The plot progresses to a final reckoning in the cornfields around Hemingford, because that was always going to be this flick’s trajectory. All the filler in between is where this film lives and dies, and there is some good news for potential viewers.

One of the gripes I had with the first Children movie was that it never went all-in on anything. There was blood, but not that much. There were occult shenanigans, but not enough exposition for it to make much sense. That film’s main focus seemed to be to get to the end as quickly as possible. This film, on the other hand, was in danger of turning very thin at points. Director David Price managed to prevent that by giving audiences buckets of blood. Then some more buckets of blood. A veritable river flowing out of one unfortunate character (Joe Inscoe, I salute you. That scene could not have been pleasant to film).

The town of Hemingford is also a place of religious fanaticism approaching sublime levels of absurdity. The town preacher (John Bennes) is a fire and brimstone sort, with a strong emphasis on the sin of fornication. He can’t open his mouth without offering the lord’s views on others’ sex lives. His congregation eats it up with aplomb, while it had me laughing.

Then there is Marty Terry, who came into acting later in life. She gets double-billing playing a pair of sisters. They are never on screen together, but both meet absolutely hilarious ends, so telegraphed beforehand that mentioning it here does not constitute spoilers. Terry was game for anything Price threw her way.

Micah continues to preach to the Gatlin survivors, and rallies some of the children of Hemingford to his side, as well. Meanwhile, Garrett continues to investigate, aided by a university anthropologist and Native American by the name of Red Bear (Ned Romero). They can’t decide whether there really is a supernatural influence on the children, or whether everything is being caused by the ergot fungus. Screenwriters A. L. Katz and Gilbert Adler couldn’t seem to decide on that, either, as no firm answer is ever provided.

What I do know is that this is a better movie than its predecessor. Its absurdity overcomes its weaknesses. It still makes the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index, never fear. What sealed the deal for me was the combination of bad acting, cheap CGI (although it is used spectacularly), throwaway characters, and a dedication to the shallowest horror fan desires. I enjoyed this shitty movie. Not enough to push it into the top fifty of the Index, but I had been prepared for a long slog in watching all of these Children of the Corn flicks. Final Sacrifice gives me hope that the rest of the movies in this franchise won’t be bottom-feeding dreck. Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice, lands at #73 in the Index, displacing Hell of the Living Dead. Check it out.

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