I'm sure you can hear that voice in your head right now. Provided, of course, that you've seen Fritz Kiersch's 1984 "classic" CHILDREN OF THE CORN. Perhaps the most memorable sequence (in a film not exactly overflowing with them) has Linda Hamilton held captive by a scowling, screaming teenager named Malachai, who dares her husband (played by Peter Horton) to show himself, or witness from afar the sacrifice of his wife.
As you may have heard, CHILDREN OF THE CORN (which spawned six sequels) has been remade by director Donald Borchers (himself a producer on the original), and Malachai is back in action. Playing him is actor/musician DANIEL NEWMAN, and when you look at him, well, ain't he just the spitting image of that crazed worshipper of He Who Walks Behind The Rows...?
In preparation for CHILDREN's SEPTEMBER 26th debut on the Syfy channel (and it's subsequent DVD release on OCTOBER 6th), Mr. Newman was kind enough to spare a few minutes, as I ask him what it's like recreaating an iconic film character, how he got the role (hint: it involves getting really sweaty), and what his reaction is to the news that Dimension Films is prepping yet another remake of the tale.
Tell me, how did you end up in CHILDREN OF THE CORN?
NEWMAN: My manager called me up and told me they were interested in me for the part, so I went in and met with Donald Borchers and I auditioned and... it was funny, because when I first went in, I had just got off a plane - I had been working on something else - and the casting director said to me "You really have no clue what you're doing, do you? You haven't read the script, you haven't seen the movie..." So she totally busted me. Then she was like, "You honestly look a lot like the character enough, so I want you to come back when you're prepared". So then I spent the next two days totally devouring it, reading the script, getting into the character, then when I went back, I was as disgusting as possible. I was covered with fake blood all over, I was all dirty, and it was the middle of the summer, it was like 102 degrees, and I'd been driving around all day with the windows rolled up with no air on, just sweatin' my balls off. Went in totally in character, and 100% did everything I could. And that was it, they called and were like "Yep, it's yours!"
Donald Borchers was a producer on the 1984 version of CHILDREN, do you think that made him better prepared for this new one? Did he talk about wanting to correct the flaws of the original?
NEWMAN: Well the thing is, they were done with the sequels. The whole idea with this was to recreate, and reimagine, the original. And they wanted to stick closer to Stephen King's original story, which the first film differed from. One thing we discussed was to really make it terrifying, and really make it psychological. In my opinion it's way more developed, and way more interesting.
Now, most horror movie fans remember "Malachai" from the original-
NEWMAN: Yeah man! I've heard so much about that.
He's got the famous "Outlander!" scene...
NEWMAN: Everybody knows Malachai. I was like, "Where have I been?" because I wasn't even that much of a horror film buff before, and now everbody is like "Oh my god, I know Malachai! I was ten years old when I saw that and I couldn't go to sleep for a week!"
He's the one character in the original that you really hate, and you really want to see killed. I'm guessing it's the same way in the remake.
NEWMAN: Yeah. Well, as an actor I was really glad he was so developed, and he's pretty large in this one.
Did you look at the original film for inspiration? To see what to do, what not to do..? Or did you avoid it altogether?
NEWMAN: Absolutely, I wanted to totally be submersed in what I was getting into, and my manager impressed upon me "You're getting into something that has a cult following, and this character is an icon to a lot of people out there who love horror films, and who love Stephen King." So I definitely did my research. But there's no copying, it's not like I was trying to mimic or do anything similar to what Courteney Gains did, but at the same time I wanted to know what I was getting into, and that helped me prepare as well as I could to deliver the character.
Do we have a reimagining of the famous "outlander" scene?
NEWMAN: Ha! We do, in fact.
Very nice. You must have been pumped up for that one.
NEWMAN: Yeah. I loved it. I'm not sure what photos have been released -
Not a whole lot, we haven't really seen anything from the flick.
NEWMAN: Cool! Makes me more guarded about what scenes I can talk about and which ones I can't. (Laughs)
How did you prepare for Malachai? Did you create a backstory for him, is there anything to compare him to in real life?
NEWMAN: Well... it's not like a short quick answer. Any project you go into, you do as much research as possible, and you really try to live and breath as the person your being on film... Sorry I don't have a cool answer for that. (Laughs)
Are you aware that there's talk of yet another CHILDREN OF THE CORN remake?
NEWMAN: All I know is, there's talk of them trying to make it into a series, which actually could be incredible. But I don't know about another film.
Last week it was announced that Dimension Films has hired a writer to work on CHILDREN OF THE CORN again. And of course they didn't even make mention of the one you're in.
NEWMAN: Well, number one, that's bizarre. Number two, I definitely wouldn't expect them to make any mention of a rival project, anything to take attention away from what they're trying to do.
Just seems so strange that they'd be doing one just as this new one is about to come out.
NEWMAN: I guess they can tell that the interest is there, and everybody always loved the original, so they just wanna do it. There ya go. (Laughs)
Many thanks to Daniel for taking the time to chat with me. Don't forget to give CHILDREN OF THE CORN a look on September 26th on the Syfy channel.