Saturday, March 11, 2017

DMI2017, Week10: "Children of the Corn" by Stephen King

This week I had another blast from the past with another story from the Stephen King collection Night Shift, chosen for me by the Five of Spades.


Burt and Vicky Robeson have a marriage in trouble. They're ostensibly in the middle of a road trip to see Vicky's brother, but in reality they are trying to save their marriage by being cooped up in a car together for 1500 miles plus. And it's not going terribly well when they leave the turnpike and get lost somewhere in Nebraska, "three hundred miles of corn," as Burt quips.

But lest we get too mired in the Robesons' marital problems, King almost immediately turns up the heat. While arguing about the road map with Vicky, Burt hits something in the road that he hopes is a dog. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a young man whose throat has been cut. Although they are definitely freaked out at this point, Burt and Vicky decide to take the boy's body to the nearest town and alert the local police.

Here's where the weirdness begins, however. The nearest town is called Gatlin, and immediately upon arriving there, Burt and Vicky know something is very wrong. For one thing, it appears deserted, and not just recently deserted -- like 10 or 15 years deserted. Prices on gas pumps are way out of date, and a calendar Burt and Vicky find in a diner reads August 1964. And yet, on the way into town they heard a local radio preacher broadcasting, and the sign on the town church has a sermon title dated the Sunday before. So there ARE people in Gatlin, but something is off for sure.

When Burt goes into the church, leaving Vicky alone outside in the car (his second mistake, right after the one where he stops in Gatlin), he rapidly understands what is wrong. The town is in the clutches of a religious cult that worships someone -- or something -- that lives in the cornfields surrounding the town. And judging from a book he finds in the church, this cult makes regular sacrifices to this something, with the result that there is no one in the town older than 19. Everyone else has been murdered or sacrificed.

And now things really heat up, as a flock of murderous children (the Children of the Corn in the story's title) descend upon the car outside the church and try to kill Vicky. Burt tries to help her but is chased into the cornfields, where he eventually comes across some very disturbing things, including the something that lives out there.

This is a suspenseful, horrifying story that is classic King in every way. The story was the basis of a 1984 movie by the same name, and which spawned eight sequels according to Wikipedia. I haven't seen any of them, but the original movie is readily available on YouTube, as well as the trailer:

Anyway, I highly recommend this story and it's well worth five stars.

Deal Me In 2017 is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.


  1. Ah yes! I remember the movie,well! It was quite frightening. I don't think I ever read the story, though. I haven't read a lot of King's work - but I've seen a lot of the movies that are based on his work. He's definitely the king of scary (no pun intended).

  2. I remember the 1984 movie also, though I never watched any of the sequels. (and they missed a big opportunity by not titling one of them "Grandchildren of the Corn" right? :-)