Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995) Dimension/Horror RT: 92 minutes Rated R (horror violence and gore, language) Director: James D.R. Hickox Screenplay: Dode B. Levenson Music: Daniel Licht Cinematography: Gerry Lively Release date: September 12, 1995 (US, DTV) Cast: Daniel Cerny, Ron Melendez, Jim Metzler, Nancy Lee Grahn, Jon Clair, Mari Morrow, Michael Ensign, Yvette Freeman, Duke Stroud, Rance Howard, Rif Hutton, Garvin Funches, Johnny Legend, Brian Peck.
I don’t normally review direct-to-video movies but I think I’ll make an exception with the Children of the Corn movies. The second movie The Final Sacrifice was the last to receive a theatrical release. Starting with Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, they all went straight to home video. I have to admit, the third movie is pretty good. Director James D.R. Hickox (Detention) transplants the story from the rural towns of Nebraska to the mean streets of Chicago which turns out to be a clever move. Who’s better suited for religious conversion than a bunch of teenage thugs and gang members? It’s against their will but still.
Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest opens in Gatlin where we meet brothers Eli (Cerny, Demonic Toys) and Joshua (Melendez, The Unborn II). Their father is an abusive, drunken jerk who likes to beat on Joshua. One night, he chases him into the cornfields where he encounters Eli who kills him with some help from He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Like Isaac and Micah before him, Eli is an earthly rep of the entity that calls for blood sacrifices.
Following the death of their only parent, the boys are taken to Chicago where they’re to be adopted by the Porters, William (Metzler, River’s Edge) and Amanda (Grahn, Santa Barbara). Right away, the boys stand out at their new school due to their Amish-like clothing and religious ways. Eli, the younger one, gets upset when he finds out that he and his brother will be in different classes. They’ve never been apart before. It doesn’t take too long for Joshua to start adopting the ways of his classmates while Eli looks on in disapproval. This kid is an evil little guy. He sneaks into the abandoned factory next to his new home to plant corn he brought from home. It grows almost instantly. He uses the corn to turn most of the student body, save for Joshua and his new friends Malcolm (Clair) and Maria (Morrow, How to Be a Player), into his disciples. In doing so, they turn against the principal, Father Frank Nolan (Ensign, Ghostbusters), who knows something’s up but can’t get anybody to believe him.
In a subplot that has great possibilities, William discovers Eli’s cornfield and is impressed by how unblemished it is. This particular strain of corn, created by the boys’ father, is impervious to bugs and pesticides and can grow in the worst of soil. Realizing its potential for huge profits, he sets about looking for backers to help him market the corn on a global level. Eli’s sole concern is that children around the world will eat his corn. Yeah, I bet it is!
Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest has a few cool death scenes. A woman falls backwards and gets her head impaled on a broken pipe. The woman who arranges the boys’ adoption burns to death after she makes a horrifying discovery about Eli. Another person has his head and spine ripped from his body by He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Many kids get killed by He Who Walks Behind the Rows, now seen as a giant monster, in the climax.
Several times, the corn plants come to life and wrap their leaves or branches around the wrists and ankles of potential victims. It’s idea that was better used in that scene from the original The Evil Dead but it’s still cool. I don’t know the exact budget of Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest but it can’t be all that high. After all, both of the previous movies were made for under $1 million each. Whatever the cost, the special effects look good. The acting is about what you’d expect meaning not all of it is good. Much of the time, the actors deliver passable performances. Cerny’s angelic face perfectly hides his evil nature. Grahn doesn’t overplay her role as an adoptive mom starting to become unhinged as she realizes one of the boys isn’t right. Ensign hams it up nicely as the priest going insane.
It may not be fine cinema but Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest is a pretty good horror movie. It has violence and gore. I like that it’s set in a big city. It’s neither creepy nor scary but writer Dode B. Levenson has some decent story ideas. It’s definitely better than most three-quels. If this is your kind of thing, I say check it out.