CHILDREN OF THE SNORE, MORE LIKE

Sometimes you just need to stop making sequels, especially to movies no one is asking for a sequel to. But in 1996, they did it again with a THIRD sequel to the King “classic” CHILDREN OF THE CORN. This latest installment, CHILDREN OF THE CORN IV: The Gathering, is not only the fourth in the series, the second to go straight to video, but is also the first time Naomi Watts received top billing. And she is the BEST thing in the movie.

God knows it isn’t the story, the script, the directing, or the acting by most of the other cast.

Let’s see if I can sum this one up relatively quickly.

Grace Rhodes (Watts), has returned to Grand Island, Nebraska (I’ve been to Nebraska; it’s about the most landlocked state you can find, there are no islands there) to care for her agoraphobic mother, played by Karen Black. Also, Grace’s two MUCH younger siblings, James and Margaret.

While in town, Grace takes her old job working for the local doctor, when one night soon after her arrival, all the kids in Grand Island suddenly come down with a mysterious fever. The fever quickly dissipates all at once across the board but the next day the kids all start to behave even weirder than kids growing up in a place called Grand ISLAND, Nebraska would probably act. For one, they stop answering to their names and instead insist their names are something else, the names of former, now dead, kids from the area.

And when Grace runs a blood test on her siblings, the results she get confuse her: they show there are traces of dead and decaying blood in their systems. But she never gets a chance to run the test again because by this point, bodies start to pile up or local residents turn up missing. One of the fathers has been suspected of killing his wife, when in reality it was his young son Marcus, under the influence of an evil child preacher whose soul was given to the dark one decades earlier before the townsfolk dragged him to a corn field and burned him alive. It is suggested in several places online that this may be the origin of He Who Walks Behind the Rows, but those six words are never spoken in this film, so I can’t say for sure.

Turns out the child preacher was abandoned by his mother, left to be raised by traveling preachers, which the boy turned out to have a knack for and people showed up in droves to see the child preacher. But, over fear of losing their golden goose, the rest of the troupe begin to feed him mercury in order to stunt his growth and keep him looking like a child. And now, Grace deduces, after seeing the reaction Margaret had to Mercurochrome, Mercury must be the way to finally defeat this evil.

She and the local father with the dead wife go to the farm where the boy was originally killed, where just previously, he had all the other kids in town spilling their blood into a pool of water, which somehow allowed him to be resurrected.

He was brought by when Margaret–another child abandoned by her mother (Grace is her real mother, not Karen Black, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out early on)–gives herself over to him. But once doused with a whole vat full of mercury, then knocked backward into a tub of the stuff, the evil child preacher dissolves into mush, and Grace is able to pull her daughter back out of the water and revive her.

I don’t feel the least bit bad about spoiling any of this because I really see it as a serve I’m doing for you, the reader. Because there’s NO reason for you to sit through these 86 minutes like I did. And I had to do part of it twice because, once the credits started rolling, I had to backtrack and watch about 20 minutes of it again, I was so sure I’d missed a big part of the climax.

But upon a second watch, I can say with all surety, no, I missed nothing. The climax was what it was, and what it was was quick, BORING, and painless.

Sure, Grace wins, but you knew she would anyway, so who cares?

This is a boring movie that goes nowhere quickly while at the same time taking its sweet time getting there. I’m not saying it’s totally worthless–Naomi Watts is really good here–but with a little retooling, this could have been a middling horror film on its own, without forcing the inconsequential Children of the Corn nonsense into it.

Co-written by first time writer/director Greg Spence (The Prophecy II) with Stephen Berger (The Cold Equations), CHILDREN OF THE CORN IV: The Gathering is by no means required viewing, not as a horror movie, not as a Stephen King-related movie, and not even as a Children of the Corn movie. The corn is an afterthought here, a plot device that, previously, had meant everything to the mythology. Here, though, it’s been tossed aside, mentioned in passing, and the ONLY holdover we have from any of the previous movies is the idea of kids killing their own parents. Congratulations Lyle and Eric Menendez, this means you qualify as Children of the Corn.

The effects here are goofy, the tension is nonexistent, and if that was a climax to a horror film, my name is Professor Mergatroid Highbottoms (that’s not my name and that was NOT a climax).

The most I can hope for at this point is that the next film in the series is only half as badly done as this one. But let’s be real, so far none of these sequels have been worth much. I fully expect that trend to continue throughout the entire Children of the Corn series of movies. What’re you gonna do?

 

King on Film
1976-1992 (Carrie to Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice)
The Dark Half (1993)
The Tommyknockers (1993)
Needful Things (1993)
The Stand (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)
The Mangler (1995)
Dolores Claiborne (1995)

The Langoliers (1995)

Sometimes They Comes Back … Again (1995)

SOMETIMES THEY REALLY SHOULDN’T BOTHER.  AT ALL.

Five years after the ho-hum film adaptation of the Stephen King short story “Sometimes They Come Back”, two unknown writer types (Guy Riedel and Adam Grossman) decided they had the perfect follow up and penned 1996’s SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK … AGAIN. One of the unknown writer types (Grossman) directed it and now 23 years later I’m watching it for the first time.

Honestly, this one copies so much of its structure from the first movie, I can’t understand why it was even made. I’m all for sequels. I’m all for bad sequels. I’m all for bad straight-to-DVD sequels (or straight-to-video as was the case with this one). But I still believe a sequel, especially one that has only the most tenuous of ties to the original, which I will get to later, should at the very least bring SOMETHING to the table.

SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK … AGAIN, however, does not.

The plot is thus: thirty years previously, Jon Porter (Michael Gross) watched his sister get murdered in a satanic ritual by three greasers who were a decade out of time in 1966, in their bid for eternal life. After killing Jon’s sister, the hoods notice Jon has seen everything and then they all purposely(?) step into an ankle-high puddle of blood into which Jon is able to knock a live electrical wire, frying the street toughs where they stand.

Because the juvenile delinquents decided to perform their black magic ritual in an abandoned mine where there’s a live junction box with loose wires coming off it for whatever reason?

Anyway, so thirty years later, Jon’s mother is killed in a mysterious accident and he and his daughter Michelle (Hilary Swank) have to go to the dead mother’s house for a few days to set her affairs in order and close out her life. While there, Michelle makes new friends Maria and Jules, grandmother’s ex-house cleaners, and also the dark and mysterious Tony Reno (Alexis Arquette), which, coincidentally, was also the name of the main thug who killed Jon’s sister.

Maria is hot for Tony, but Tony’s only got eyes for Michelle. As he begins his seductions, the bodies start to pile up. First is Steve, the simple-minded lawnmower man (see what they did there?) who is obsessed with Speed Racer and is suspicious of Tony Reno, having watched him disappear before his very eyes the night before.

As with the previous SOMETIMES movie, the rule is, when someone dies, another of the dead gang is allowed to come back from Hell. Next to go is Jules, who is slightly psychic and knows Tony Reno is up to no good. With this death, Tony’s got his whole gang back and now they want to complete their earlier ritual and gain the eternal life they were promised.

But Jon’s got other plans, thanks to the exposition and assistance from a local priest who Jon went to thirty years earlier after his sister was killed. The priest knows the backstory on Tony Reno and his gang and, luckily for Jon, also knows the ritual that will send them all back to Hell for good.

Do I really need to keep going?

Oh, wait, that tie to the first movie. At one point, Jon is told to contact Jim Norman, who will be able to shed some light on what’s going on. Jim Norman, since I know you don’t remember, was Tim Matheson’s character from SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK.

But when he tries to call, Tony Reno has intercepted the call and taken on the voice of Jim’s wife who tells Jon that her husband died last night. True or not, Tim Matheson never made a cameo in this movie, and I hate to say it, but that’s too bad.

Adam Grossman directed ONE more movie after this one, the 1998 remake of the classic CARNIVAL OF SOULS and while I know I watched and reviewed that movie years ago, I don’t remember a single thing about it. I assume neither does Grossman. As for this movie, I can’t imagine he’d remember much about this one, either. I just finished it and I’ve already forgotten half of it.

The script is overly simple, while the acting is underwhelming. Arquette chews the scenery and more, while Michael Gross is given almost nothing to work with whatsoever. A cardboard cutout could have played that role for all the depth it had, and I put that squarely on the writers and director.

If anything, the only person who gave anything close to a truly professional performance was Hilary Swank who, despite the story and everything she was working with, came across as likable and natural. No wonder she was only three years away from her first Oscar win.

Overall, SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK … AGAIN falls smack in the middle of the Unnecessary Sequel category. I’m not saying it’s a terrible movie as I’ve seen MUCH WORSE, it just isn’t a movie we needed. It adds absolutely nothing to the mythology, tells basically the same story, and isn’t even REALLY a King movie.

Unless you really HAVE to, this one’s a pass.

King on Film
1976-1992 (Carrie to Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice)
The Dark Half (1993)
The Tommyknockers (1993)
Needful Things (1993)
The Stand (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)
The Mangler (1995)
Dolores Claiborne (1995)

The Langoliers (1995)

writing. Sort of.
I want to write a book that never ends. I mean, like a really long long long story that just goes and goes. But is exciting and has lots of characters and twists and whatnot. I’ve been wanting to for a while and a few months ago I think I hit on which story to tell.
About 10 years ago I plotted a 66 book scifi series that I’ve always been afraid to write because I know I’ll die before I finish it. But I could easily tell this as, instead of 66 novels, one long story that just never ends.
The first part is the hardest, though. It’s called The Heart of the World, the series is, which would then obviously be the title of the humongous fucking novel. If I ever finished it.
But first I have to figure out the first part. I DO know the two main characters in part one are named Neal Adams and Evie Sinclair.
What impossible project have you always wanted to do?

 

Today was an unusual day in terms of starting a new piece in that I had the beginning written probably nine months ago. I knew clearly what the opening to The Witches of Green Lake was going to be, so clearly that I had to take a day in the middle of working on something else–one of the Invasion Agents issues, I’m sure–and write this opening instead.

So today, when I sat down to get started on the beginning of Witches, I already had the beginning. I just needed to figure out what came second. And second wasn’t exactly so clear in my head.

Sure, I had a ton of notes on what the plot, OVERALL, is about, but I don’t have it broken down any further, and certainly none of the finer scene-by-scene details. So today was the beginning, but not the beginning, and I had no idea where it was going. After spending 90 minutes and getting about 500 words, I stopped for the day and picked up my daughter from work. I’ll pick it up again tomorrow.

Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 2: The Seven Capital Cities Of Heaven

Collects Immortal Iron Fist #8-14 & Annual #1. While his friend is held hostage by a Hydra-affiliated megalomaniac, Danny Rand has been ushered to the fabled city of K’un-Lun to fight in a tournament against the Immortal Weapons of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven. Will the Iron Fist be the last Immortal Weapon left standing?

While I didn’t get a LOT of words done today, I got some important ones done. Only about 400 of them, but I put a lot into those 400 as I was trying to describe a thing, a time, a place in the world of the story that doesn’t have substance, or location, nor does time pass there.

So that was an experience. But I think I managed it alright.

I need to go through my Prolific Works (formerly Instafreebie) stories and change the CTAs in them since I downgraded my account from paid to free yesterday. I just can’t justify–never could, really–paying $20 a month to FORCE people to sign up to my newsletter whenever they download one of my FREE books, and then have 70% of them never even open the thing, let alone buy any books.

I do get some really good engagement with my readers on there now, and I love it, but I’m not really seeing the money I make every month coming from newsletter subscribers, therefore that $20 a month could very well be better spent elsewhere.

So I need to change the CTAs in those books to saying something like if you liked this story and want more, please sign up for my free weekly newsletter at, and then give the URL for the sign-up sheet.

And that should also eliminate all the people who unsubscribe claiming they never signed up in the first place. I assure you, you totally signed up. I gave you a free novel, and in exchange you gave me your email address. It even says it on the website. But that’s okay, they only came for the free ebook anyway, they clearly were never going to buy any of the other books.

Hopefully I can get to changing those very soon.

Well, after a rough start yesterday, I’m finally on day two of the WRITING of Band of Gypsies 2: Bold as Love, and I am exactly on track with 2002 words.

I lost a little time yesterday to some research I didn’t feel could wait, and I ended the day with only 909 words, but I made up those lost few today and I’m feeling very good about what I have so far.

This story is going to be something of a writing experiment between me and David Bain, my co-writer on the first Band of Gypsies book. On that book, as well as Return to Angel Hill which we wrote together, we took turns doing a few hundred or thousand words each, then sending it back to the other one who would then add a few hundred or thousand words, so on and so forth until we had a finished first draft. But in both cases, we never really knew where the story, or the other writer, was going until we saw it.

For this one, though, I had Dave write me an outline for while I will do the first draft, then when that’s done it’ll go off to him for editing. We’ll do a few passes, and in the end have a brand new finished novella. Or novel. Not sure yet how long it might be, but if 2002 words and I’ve only written the opening scene are any indication, it might be a long one.

Reading. Currently I am reading, in anticipation of the movie that my daughter and I still haven’t decided if we’re seeing in theaters or not:

Today’s writing goal: another 1000 words on Third Floor 2.

Today’s total: 1060 words, bringing the book, currently, to 4080 words.

I’m almost done with the prologue, and if I’d gotten an earlier start this morning, could have finished it today. But the day is moving along and I’ve got to make some lunch before work. However the below zero temps here have played havoc with the world and I lost a chunk of the morning to HAND washing dishes that would have been in the dishwasher if the hot water hadn’t been frozen. But I digress. I’ll finish the prologue tomorrow.

And speaking of today’s words, I found a detail near the end of the day that tied back to one small, almost forgettable scene in the first Third Floor, but also played so perfectly into what was happening in this scene, God I love it when that happens.

Times like that are the jewels we look for, the spark that reminds us why we love doing this job so much.

I’m looking forward to finishing this prologue tomorrow.

Writing goal for the day: Add another 1000 words to The Third Floor 2.

Writing total: 1008 words, bringing the book to 3020 words in the first 3 days.

Not bad. My goal for the first week is to get the prologue written. That’s what I’m still in the middle of, but I will definitely finish it this week and when I get back to the book in three weeks, I’ll be starting chapter one and the main part of the plot. But first I have to finish the prologue.

No worries, everything is on track.

Also, yesterday I had to do research, image searching “guest room décor.”

Today’s writing goal: hit 2000 words on The Third Floor 2.

Final total: 2012 words. Goal met.

I had trouble getting these words out, and honestly considered quitting for the day when I was only halfway there. When I went down to get a new cup of coffee, the kitchen floor was soaked. I had the tap running at a slow drizzle because it’s supposed to get down to 4 degrees in the next 24 hours and I didn’t want the pipes to freeze, and somehow all the water backed up into the dishwasher and started leaking out. No idea how or why, but I turned on the dishwasher and it all drained away immediately, so that’s good?

But this roadblock almost made me pack it in for the day and do something else. But I was halfway there and am I really the kind of writer, or do I want to be the kind of writer, who lets a stupid thing like that keep me from reaching my daily writing goal?

Of course not. So I finished the days words and added another 12 with 2 minutes to spare before my lunch is ready.

Today’s writing goal: Start writing The Third Floor 2 (at least 1000 words).

Finished count for the day: 1028 words.

I met my goal, so that’s a good day of writing.

And I like the opening, which I was nervous about because I feel like the legacy of this book looms larger than it should. When I wrote the first book, I just wanted to capture some of the creepy stuff that had happened to me when I used to live in that house. I didn’t know when I wrote it, or when I self published it, that it was going to sell quite as well at it did. Of course I hoped for it, but we hope for it with every title we publish, and I have a LOT of titles out there now, and none have even come close to what The Third Floor sold.

So, yeah, it feels like there’s just a LITTLE bit of pressure on this one to do a great job, more pressure than if I were writing a follow up to anything else.

And I think today I started it right. It’s a solid opening and gives me many directions I could go while also laying the groundwork for the direction it’s GOING to go, which I already knew when I started today. So it all worked out.

WHOLE lot of writing-related work going on here the past two weeks. I made a ton of notes on the plot for The Witches of Green Lake last week, and this week I switched over to the adaptation of the second movie in Caleb Straus’s It’s Over trilogy, “The Storybook”. Mostly this week was spent re-familiarizing myself with the story, first reading the script, then watching the movie. Next time I rotate back to this project, I’ll start the actual adapting of the script to prose.

But first, next week. Next week I start the WRITING, not the plotting, not the note-taking or character-sketching, but the writing of The Third Floor 2: The Lonely Man.

I’m excited, anxious and terrified all at once. I love the story for this one, I love the characters and the world, and I think this could be my best horror novel. If I don’t mess it up. But no pressure, right?

Fingers crossed.

Today marks day one of work on The Witches of Green Lake.  Technically I guess it would be day two, since I wrote the opening scene months ago.

For now I’m just making notes on the plot, figuring out where the characters are in their lives, where in the timeline things are taking place.  The transition from Werewolves of Green Lake to Vampires of Green Lake was the next day (or maybe that same day, I actually can’t remember), but the transition to this one is going to be a bit more time.  I think six months have passed. Maybe more, maybe less, but it’s definitely not the next day.

I’m expanding the character base with this one, as I did in the last one, too, going from focusing strictly on David in book one to David and his cousin in book two.  This book will have even more main characters, or at least the secondary characters will have more spotlight time.

Plus, I’m also figuring out how to incorporate what few details I had about The Ghosts of Green Lake, which was originally going to be the third book before I decided I needed to do Witches instead and just mix what little bit of plot I had from Ghosts in with it.  It’s going to work out better this way in the end.

But I digress.  Today’s focus was on plotting The Witches of Green Lake.  Tomorrow I’ll do some more plotting and by this weekend I expect to have the entire plot sorted and ready for me to start the writing … on February 11th.

For the past good long while, my Saturdays have been spent not doing a lot of specific work.  Maybe catching up on emails or edits when I needed to, but I never felt really productive on Saturdays.  Now, I don’t get every Saturday off–not many of them, in fact–but for this year I’m making a new Saturday plan.  If I have it off, I’ll do a movie review and a blog post for the Midwest Creativity Coaching website.  If I have to work on Saturday, I’ll just do the blog post.  Sunday is still set aside for my newsletter and plans with my kids.

It’s late Saturday night as I write this, so the newsletter is still to come, but I did get my review and blog post done today.  And you can read them here:

Movie review: MOTHER’S DAY MASSACRE

Blog post: WHEN SETTING YOUR GOALS, REMEMBER TO BE SPECIFIC

Next week I start work on the next Monsters of Green Lake book: THE WITCHES OF GREEN LAKE.

Today was a very productive writing day. No new WORDS, necessarily, but forward progress on TWO projects.

First I did some work on the bonus material for the upcoming INVASION AGENTS YEAR ONE OMNIBUS, completing two pages of never-before-seen stuff. Then I did some research into Sufism for the Band of Gypsies sequel, BOLD AS LOVE.

For the first Band of Gypsies book, Dave and I just swapped back and forth on the first draft, adding to the story until we couldn’t think of anything else, then we sent what we had to the other and they added some until they were stuck and sent it back.

For the second book we’re trying a different approach. The plot is Dave’s, he wrote the outline a few years ago, and I’ll be taking that outline and writing the first draft. Once I’m done with that, I’ll send it to Dave to edit and rewrite as necessary.

Yesterday I had a good call with members of the former Paranormal St. Joe group, Jeannie and her sister Tracy. I took a lot of notes and I think I’ve got a solid enough base to start putting together the characters for the book that is going to require a paranormal investigation group. You’ll see. So thanks so much to Jeannie and Tracy. I will definitely be coming back with more questions as I get into the writing of that book.

 

If you find yourself with some downtime in a waiting room or getting your oil changed or something, try a Horror Single to pass the time (just click on a cover for more info):

   

Today I set aside the Third Floor 2 plot and picked up another. Today is day one of work on the next book in the Band of Gypsies series of novellas, originally titled “God of Thunder”, but I think, given the themes inside, will eventually be called, “Bold as Love.” Also, it keeps with the Jimi Hendrix theme.

In fact, I’d like to come up with a new title for the first book, just called BAND OF GYPSIES, as I’d like to make BoG the series title, like STAR WARS. But there’s time for the rebranding and whatnot later. We don’t even have a second book written yet.

Anyway, so today I read through the beats, refreshing myself on them and putting myself into the headspace of this is what I’m writing now, as opposed to several years ago when I first got them and this was still a project in the distant future.

Today I broke the synopsis up into sections and right now I have 10. So 10 scenes. That should make a decent-sized novella.

Tomorrow I’ll have to let it rest, though, as I have a phone interview with a local paranormal investigation group to do research on a different story. Then I’ll get back to Gypsies on Wednesday.

Today I start reading:

 

WhiteSpace: Season One

by DAVID W. WRIGHT & SEAN PLATT

 

SOMETHING IS WRONG IN HAMILTON ISLAND

The Puget Sound bedroom community seems like the perfect place — beautiful homes with white picket fences, a thriving tech sector, and one of the best school systems in the state.

On September 1, everything changes when a teacher walks into his classroom and does the unthinkable.

YOU ARE BEING WATCHED

An addict attempts to raise her dead sister’s daughter, but how can she raise a child when her sanity seems to be slipping away? And what secrets does her own childhood hold about events happening now?

The wife of a killer cannot imagine why her husband snapped — until she finds something her husband hid in their house. And that discovery could cost her everything.

A student tries to recover from the loss of his friends when someone reaches out to him promising answers. Then he finds the things under his skin. Things that make him question everything.

An actor returns home to find out that his powerful family has been lying to him. A family with dark secrets and darker pasts. When someone close to him goes missing, he brings in an outsider, an outsider haunted by tragedy that might just be repeating itself.

NOTHING IS WHAT IT SEEMS

As the survivors of September 1 attempt to put their lives back together, a dark conspiracy unfolds of missing people, dark experiments, voices in static, and something that nobody will see coming.

TRUST NOBODY

WhiteSpace is a character-driven, mysterious, creepy, paranoid, sci-fi thriller that would be right at home with such TV greats like LOST, The X-Files, and Fringe.

The Caterpillar (Horror Singles Book 4)

It was only supposed to be temporary, a place to stay when he returned home, just until he got back on his feet. Then he woke up to find his cousin and her husband gone, vanished in the night. But that was only the start. What they left behind was so much worse.

On the B-Side, in “Blue Moon Story”, one cop is still trying to find the man who murdered his wife. He’s about to learn the truth of what really tore his wife to pieces that night might be closer than he ever thought.