Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)


“That’s Some Nice Looking Corn”

Main Cast: Daniel Cerny and Ron Melendez

Director: James D.R. Hickox

So back to the Children of the Corn we’ll we go for a third time. Sigh. This movie was the reason I stopped watching these sequels. I still haven’t, as yet, made it past this one. That’ll change, of course, for this series if nothing else, but when I first saw this one back in the late 90s or early 2000s, whenever I saw it, I said nope, that’s it for me.

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest concerns Joshua, and his younger adopted brother Eli. When Joshua’s dad turns up missing, the two are adopted by another couple, William and Amanda Porter, who live in Chicago. That’s a far cry from the corn fields of Gatlin, Nebraska where the boys hail from, but young Eli has brought a little bit of home with him in a suitcase full of ears of corn.

Amanda thinks it’s odd, William, a corn trader or something, thinks it’s sweet. If either of them knew about the field of corn Eli planted in the abandoned factory next door, or what he plans to do with it, they might both have some bigger, deeper worries.

Joshua begins to adapt to city life quickly, but Eli is set in his ways, still dresses in his simple Amish-style clothes, talks in stilted, stiff dialogue, oh and he still prays to He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

After a run-in with a priest at their school, where service is a part of the daily curriculum, Eli begins to make friends after all. Well, acolytes, really. Soon the playground is empty of everyone except Josh and his friends, Malcolm and Maria, the priest is having terrible dreams about children murdering their parents, and the kids are all hanging on Eli’s every word.

Meanwhile, William Porter has discovered Eli’s corn and, being in the corn business, marvels at its incredible properties. It’s tougher than regular corn, resistant to breakage or insects, and tastes like nothing he’s ever had before. He has to work out a deal to get this stuff shipped worldwide and SOON.

But Joshua soon discovers a very strange and dark truth about his adopted brother and he sets out on a mission to take him down before Eli can hurt anyone else. You know, anyone else besides the homeless man who wandered into the abandoned factory, their new adopted mother Amanda, the case worker who tried to intervene earlier … and anyone else who is going to resist He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

This … movie, I guess you’d call it, was written by Dode B. Levinson of Angel 4: Undercover fame and directed by first-timer James D.R. Hickox, who then went on to helm such classics as Blood Surf and Girls Gone Psycho.

The cast consists mainly of actors who wound up doing guest spots on almost any prime time television drama you can think of, but never really made much of a splash outside of Nancy Lee Grahn (Amanda) who got her start here, but soon moved on to “General Hospital” which is where I know her from. Oh, and there’s a very brief shot of a young Charlize Theron in her first movie. No lines, and she’s gone almost before your mind can register it’s her.

Daniel Cerny (Eli) gave up acting around the time he took up directing. I haven’t seen any of his movies but I have to believe he’s a better director than he was an actor. At the same time, I can’t pin his performance in this movie strictly on his level of talent. First time director and a screenwriter who only had one other credit at the time besides this one, you gotta expect a dip in quality all around.

The other performances were equally as not terrible, but still as equally meh. Ron Melendez (Joshua) did his best with the dialogue he was given, and was probably the best thing in the movie, but that’s not saying much.

And structurally speaking the plot of Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest isn’t terrible. It’s a bit simple, but it holds together nicely as long as you don’t look to the previous two movies for continuity. And Hickox is obviously doing his best. So why was this the straw that broke the camels back for me?

The Barbie doll. You’ll see it. In the climax when He Who Walks Behind the Rows appears and tries to eat Joshua’s love interest Maria. I was in up to that point. I overlooked some really bad rear projection effects. I overlooked some really obvious puppetry. But that Barbie doll. Wow. It didn’t knock me out of the movie, it picked me up–like a Ken doll–and hurled me as far as it could away from the movie.

I just couldn’t trust another Children of the Corn movie to be anything more than this bad. I really hope I’m wrong, though.

As a continuation of the series, this one gets some things wrong–you certainly aren’t driving from Chicago to Nebraska and back again in a single night–but I have to give them credit for something. They made a movie. I’ve never made a movie, and I respect anyone who does. No matter how bad it is. And Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest is not BAD, it’s just not good.

I didn’t care about the characters one bit, I wasn’t invested in Eli’s plan to feed the world on demonic corn. And it didn’t bother me at all when the other kids in school fell under his spell. They all looked like trouble anyway, and as one of the teachers said, the hallways are clean and quiet and there hasn’t been a fight all week. Good for Eli.

See? He Who Walks Behind the Rows isn’t even a bad guy, he just wants to clean up the schools. Let him be.

King on Film
1976-1992 (Carrie to Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice)
The Dark Half (1993)
The Tommy knockers (1993)
Needful Things (1993)
The Stand (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

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