Like the previous Children of the Corn flick, this fifth entry in the series, subtitled Fields of Terror, features a future star in the cast, in Eva Mendes. But, that’s not all. There’s also a lesser Arquette and a Zappa progeny. The best part is, all this is wrapped up in a package more in tune with the ley lines of shitty cinema — more aware that bad movies survive on spectacle, and less on good intentions.
From 1998, Fields of Terror, like its previous two predecessors, was released direct-to-video. Ethan Wiley handled both screenwriting and directing duties for this one. The film sees the return of the He Who Walks Behind the Rows child cult, which was jettisoned for the fourth film.
A group of teens (none played by anyone under the age of 21) is road tripping through rural Nebraska with the ashes of one of their friends. Don’t think about this part of the plot too much.
Along the way, two of the group are murdered in grisly fashion by the cult, and the others are left stuck in the small town.
Strangely, the cult in this film is led by an adult, Luke (David Carradine), with assistance by creepy kid Ezeekial (Adam Wylie). The cult has claimed the cornfields surrounding the town, and woe be to anyone who wanders in uninvited.
As the teens are about to leave, ready to put the deaths of their friends behind them rather quickly, one of them, Allison (Stacy Galina), learns that her estranged younger brother, Jacob (Dave Buzzotta — what an awesome last name, by the way) is part of the cult. She learns from him that the cult demands self-sacrifice upon an adherents’ 18th birthday, and, wouldn’t you know it, Jacob is about to turn 18. Allison decides to stay behind to rescue her brother from the cult. Her friends are about to split and leave her behind, but they come to their senses just in time to provide more fodder for the film.
By this point, astute readers should notice I haven’t name-dropped any of the people I wrote about above. They’re in the movie. They’re just not the main focus. Ahmet Zappa is one of the teens, and he exits early. Meanwhile, Alexis Arquette, and the most late-1990s facial hair one will see in a film, plays Greg, Allison’s would be boyfriend. Eva Mendes, she who would become the biggest star from the cast, plays Kir. It’s her boyfriend in the urn. For the sake of completeness, the last two teens were played by Angela Jones and future soap actor Greg Vaughan.
What follows is predictable enough for the veteran horror flick viewer. Buildup, climax, denouement, fin. What makes this flick interesting is the gore, and Eva Mendes.
The gore is a welcome step up from the previous film. More effort and expense seems to have gone into it, and there are some imaginative takes. The fate of the sheriff, played by shitty movie superstar Fred Williamson, is one to behold. It makes no sense, but it’s icky, which is all that matters.
Then there’s Mendes. I hate to pick on actors and actresses sometimes. They are real people, after all. But she stinks in this movie.
Kir is a character who is grieving so intensely that she’s suicidal. All I ever got from Mendes’s performance, though, was that she, like, wasn’t looking for anything serious right now, you know? There she was, marching off to her death with all the emotional complexity of a mannequin. Her performance is so bad that it’s a reason to tune in. The discerning shitty movie fan will love Mendes’s work. This role could have gone to someone mediocre and totally forgettable. Thankfully, the producers struck shitty gold with Mendes. If I were someone like Roger Corman, I would have locked Mendes up to a long-term deal to star in my b-movies, before someone else in Hollywood noticed how pretty she was and put her in something with a budget. Alas, after a couple more years toiling in substandard, low-budget crap, she was off to substandard, big-budget crap. We shitty movie fans could hope that she has a late-career return to the gutter, as so many stars do, but it’s now been seven years since Ms. Mendes had an acting credit. I fear she has retired.
Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror, is a decent shitty movie watch. Besides Mendes, Carradine is a treat, and some of Wiley’s direction is downright hilarious. Example: at one point Kir starts making googly eyes at one of the cult members (Aaron Jackson), and for as long as the piano is playing in the soundtrack, this scene is indistinguishable from the opening of porn scenes.
Decent is not great, though, so Fields of Terror lands in the murky middle of the Watchability Index, displacing The Pyramid from #227.