One of the first horror movies I ever saw was one among the many of the Children of the Corn series. It is a story that involves children of Gatlin, Nebraska who appeared to have been possessed by the demonic “One Who Walks Behind the Rows” and have been on a murderous rampage by killing all adults in their town, notwithstanding a well-meaning couple who merely wanted to report the murder of a boy by the cultish children themselves.
The children are involved in a murderous cult, in which they, the disciples of the "One Who Walks Behind the Corn Rows" are instructed by their demon-god through a child-prophet to kill everyone above the age of nineteen in the town, as a sacrifice to the gods. This is done in the most gruesome of ways, such as crucifying a police officer, displaying his corpse for all to see, grounding old people using meat grinders, slitting throats of their parents, among many other disgusting, yet terror-inducing ways of killing.
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King is correct when he stated that the utility of horror movies would be to feed the hungry monsters in our psyche - a theatrical projection of all our forcibly forgotten fears, anxieties, disaster-scenarios, memories, among many other situations which we hope we would never find ourselves in, despite the seeming impossibility of such circumstances from ever occurring.
As a formulaic horror film in the tradition of Child's Play, Children of the Corn plays into the viewers' suspension of disbelief by creating two major horror scenarios grossly unthinkable - first, the idea of children as a murderous cult, and second the idea of one well-meaning couple stuck in the company of these children with no way to escape, and trapped inside America's heartland. These two horror scenarios were admittedly very successful in conveying panic, fear and terror, when I watched the movie as a kid, and it remains to incite panic up until this moment. No one can imagine that cute and cuddly boys and girls would wield scythes and meat grinders against their parents, relatives and regularly pleasant old neighbors, as these kids should have been involved in Sunday school, playing pinball and videogames, learning sports, instead of stabbing persons to death. Such a predicament is completely puke-inducing, and would ultimately make even the most experienced horror fans shudder. When I was a kid, all I could do was close my eyes almost the entire time, but the menacing of eyes of the children remained in my imagination then, up until today. On the other hand, the other horror scenario of being a couple stuck in AmericaÑ's heartland in the company of the kids are just as frightening as the kids themselves. First, it destroys everything that Middle America is known for - pleasant, religious and simple American folks who are always willing to help city-based Americans along the way. But no, when the couple arrived in Gatlin, it was a literal ghost town, with its old All-American feel completely lost. Fear struck my mind when I thought of this scenario, especially when the only place where one could run and hide would be the cornfields, the terrain of which the children completely know. In all of these, King's thesis is validated – horror films reveal the worst of the monsters in our psyche.
List of References
- Shearon Lowery; Melvin L DeFleur "Milestones in mass communication research : media effects" White Plains, N.Y. : Longman Publishers USA, 1995.
- Kenneth A Pass; Association of State and Territorial Public Health Laboratory Directors (U.S.); Birth Defects Institute (Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research) "Proceedings : XXI Birth Defects Symposium and 8th National Neonatal Screening Symposium", Albany, N.Y.: [Wadsworth Laboratories], 1991