Before we get started, yes, I watched all of these because they’re on Netflix Instant. I am lazy.
Day 6: Parents (1989)
Now this is an odd movie. Directed by Bob Balaban (yes, that Bob Balaban), Parents explores one of the great unknowables in the world… your parents. Who the hell are these… people? Where do they come up with these arbitrary rules? And how deviant is the sex they’re having?
The film follows a boy who’s mystified by his parents, so much so that he even suspects them of maintaining a steady diet of human remains. After all, they cook meat all of the time, and never really seem to go shopping, so… yeah, people. On the surface, Parents reeks of camp, what with its plot reading like a 3rd grader’s library book, and its wash of cheeky 50’s-nostalgia, but Parents just isn’t that type of film.
Loaded with twisted dream sequences, close-ups of half-cooked meat and weird static shots ripped right out of the book of David Lynch, Parents is surprisingly unsettling and anchored by two jarring performances from Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt. Quaid may have developed into a clown over the years, but he’s always had chops–and Parents uses his puffy, emotionless expression and all 6 foot 4 inches of his imposing frame to suggest a monster trying to pass like an everyday man.
Day 7: Tales of Terror (1962)
Three Edgar Allen Poe stories all starring Vincent Price and directed by Roger Corman. Even though it’s not the best Corman/Poe adaptation by a long shot, that combination is still too good to pass up. Though the final chapter is by far the weakest, the movie’s center story, a kind of mix of “The Black Cat” and “Cask of Amontillado,” is the best. Not only does Price play an outlandishly foppy wine connoisseur, Peter Lorre steps in as an angry drunk who challenges Price’s expertise.
Day 8: Children of the Corn (1984)
Firstly, they’ve made nine of these movies. Nine.
When a young couple stumbles into the business of a rural Nebraska corn-god worshiping cult of children, things get real when the killer kids eye them to be their next sacrifice to “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.”
There isn’t a whole hell of a lot going on in Children of the Corn. It has a solid, creepy premise, but it gets kind of bogged down with a lackadaisical pace, flat directing and some… rather subpar acting. Still though, it has that silly Stephen King sheen that I always get a kick out of. Characters make jokes about communism or public television and get all self-righteous speeches about religious fundimentalism. There are also enough small details in the film that keep it from being totally flat–details like the mutilated religious iconography, the creepy isolation, and how it all kind of ties back to King’s grander works The Stand and The Dark Tower series (in Children of the Corn, the kids worship “He Who Walks Behind The Rows,” which is hinted to be Randall Flagg, one of King’s central villains). Still, for all of its weakness, it has a satisfyingly bonkers ending involving re-animated corpses, killer corn and a great big explosion that forms a face and screams.
To be honest, though, I thought this movie was going to be about vampires.