All due respect to Midwich, England, but Stephen King fans know that the real village of the damned is Gatlin, Nebraska, the central location of the 1984 horror movie favorite Children of the Corn. (In honor of Halloween, it’s newly available for free streaming through Hulu until Nov. 1 — watch it above on Yahoo View.) Gatlin is the tiny town where an army of terrifying tweens and teens have murdered the entire adult population, acting on the orders of a preacher boy singing the gospel of the corn-husking god, He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
King originally took readers on a tour of Gatlin in his 1977 short story, later collected in the anthology Night Shift, which remains a gateway to horror for so many young readers (myself included). Eight years later, moviegoers watched the Nebraska cornfields run red with blood in the Fritz Kiersch-directed movie version of King’s story. Starring a pre-thirtysomething Peter Horton and a pre-Terminator Linda Hamilton as two unlucky travelers who become the latest targets of this adult-hating cult, Children of the Corn opens with the killing spree that made Gatlin a kids-only place. Poisonings, throat-slicings and a hand in a deli slicer are just some of the ways the grown-ups meet their unwitting ends.
(True confession time: The first time I saw Children of the Corn was on a VHS tape at summer camp, and this scene proved so intense for my eight-year-old self, that I had to leave the room. Being teased about that for the rest of the summer was actually scarier than movie itself.)
A modest hit upon its initial release, Children of the Corn has since become one of the biggest success stories in the canon of Stephen King movies, spawning a whopping eight sequels, with a ninth on the way. But the original is hard to top for the sheer weirdness of its premise and John Franklin’s creepy presence as Isaac, number one fan and chosen disciple of He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Watch is now, and keep your eyes peeled at Yahoo View for more great King content, including the first two episodes of 11.22.63.