Soundtrack Review: CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984) Soundtrack Composed by Jonathan Elias. Varese Sarabande CD Club Release

October 23, 2009

Ah, memories of my high school days.  I remember going to see this movie adaptation of Stephen King’s story, CHILDREN OF THE CORN around the spring of 1984.  It had been heavily advertised and looked scary so I decided it would be a good one to go see.  Now, I didn’t go see this one alone either.  I actually had a date.  Yeah, I know…what are the chances?  Well, I sort of got a second-hand, used date.  I went to see the movie with a girl who had been dating a friend of mine and since he didn’t really much care about her, he always told me stories of how he mistreated this girl, which I thought was terrible.  I told him she’d be better off with someone else and somehow the decision was made to introduce her to me (I’d never met her as they lived almost an hour away).  We met and I think she was probably hoping more for the chance to possibly make him jealous than she was hoping things would work out between she and I.  In any case, he brought her over to meet me at a mall and  we decided to go see CHILDREN OF THE CORN and I think he just went off shopping somewhere.  It didn’t work out between this girl and I.  Not that there was anything wrong with her, besides the fact she lived way, way, way away from where I lived and I almost fell asleep at the wheel coming back from taking her home.  She didn’t end up with my friend either, which is fine for him and most definitely better for her.  My friend told me she met some guy who worshipped the ground she walked on, which I thought was only fair since she had taken so much unkindness from my friend, who would often dump her for her sister and then dump the sister for her and back and forth.  I’m amazed that this happened not only more than once but several times in fact.  What I got out of it was we saw the movie CHILDREN OF THE CORN, which quite frankly is not all that great of a movie but the soundtrack by Jonathan Elias is an excellent example of horror film scoring.  I guess you could say that had I not met the girl, I probably wouldn’t have seen CHILDREN OF THE CORN or heard the soundtrack, which is still one of my all-time favorites even 25 years later.  Luckily for me, Varese Sarabande, a record label which specializes in movie and TV soundtracks released the album on vinyl back in 1984 and I taped it and played it in the car all the while I dated the girl I went to the prom with (she must have liked me a lot).  Recently, Varese Sarabande CD Club released a limited edition CD with the same contents ported over from the vinyl album.  This re-release was limited to 1000 units, all of which they probably sold in a couple of days, although the resellers got a few and I managed to order mine from a reseller before he sold out of them.   If you look around, you can probably still find a copy.  I understand that it is a popular and often requested title so I wonder why they only saw fit to release 1000 of them instead of 3000 of them.  Maybe it’s popular but just not that popular.  

Okay, to the soundtrack itself.  The main title theme is comprised of synth, a 30 piece string section and a chorus that according to the liner notes on the CD was made up of the composer’s children and some friends and was recorded in a bed room.  It is appropriate over the titles which are shown over children’s drawings.  Most of the track titles don’t do much to refresh my memory of the film itself.  It’s just great creepy mood music with choral chants that almost sound like Goldsmith’s score for THE OMEN.  The skill with which Elias creates this score transcends the average synth score that was done in 1984 because it is so effective you forget you are listening to a synth score.  Apparently composer John Barry (James Bond series, OUT OF AFRICA, BODY HEAT) met Jonathan Elias and gave him some pointers.  Probably the best advice he gave Elias was that less is more and there is no need to milk every single thing that happens.  This score is remarkably subdued for a score for an 1980s exploitation horror film score, which I think is what makes it so memorable.  I’m not sure how much music is on the CD compared to how much is in the film but the CD runs less than 30 minutes.  Still, that’s enough.  The score doesn’t come off as being too repetitive, probably due to smart placement of the tracks on the album and the brevity of the CD as a whole.  It’s a good example of economic horror scoring and is the best thing about the movie CHILDREN OF THE CORN, if you ask me.  

Here is a track listing for those who care.

  1. Main Title (1:32)
  2. Barn Run (1:10)
  3. Dream Music (:56)
  4. Murder (2:00)
  5. The Arrival (2:08)
  6. Chase Theme (1:13)
  7. The Invasion (3:16)
  8. Burning the Cornfield (3:27)
  9. Vicki’s Dream (2:39)
  10. Attack of the Children (:56)
  11. Fighting Back (2:49)
  12. Deal’s Haunting (:54)
  13. Exploring (1:39)
  14. The Cornfield (:49)
  15. Isaac Vs. Malaki (:39)
  16. The Resolution (2:05)
  17. End Titles (1:34)


October 23, 2009

Welcome to my blog.  Because I am a fan of many aspects of movies from watching them, to making them, I will be reviewing movies and soundtracks, some of which are in print and available and some that are not, that I may need to help spread the word about in hopes that the film or soundtrack will someday become available.