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1984 Movie Reviews – Children of the Corn, The Hotel New Hampshire, Mike’s Murder, and Splash

by Sean P. Aune | March 9, 2024March 9, 2024 7:30 am EST

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1984 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.


We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly four dozen.

Yes, we’re insane, but 1984 was that great of a year for film.

The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1984 so that it is their true 40th anniversary. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.

This time around it’s March 9, 1984, and we’re off to see Children of the Corn, The Hotel New Hampshire, Mike’s Murder, and Splash.

1984 Movie Project - Children of the Corn - 01

Children of the Corn

(This review was originally published in 2019 when I first got this idea for the project. I watched the film again in 2024, and portions of the review have been updated.)

The 1980s were rife with Stephen King adaptations, something that seems to be happening again. Anything the man had ever written was being turned into a film, and they included short stories. Somehow, the short story for Children of the Corn has now been turned into nine movies. We’re still not sure how that happened.

Made for $800,000, about $1.93M in 2019 dollars, Children of the Corn is 92 minutes of nothing. Set in the town of Gatlin, Nebraska, we learn from the jump that Isaac Chroner (John Franklin) is fairly new in town and he has been meeting with the other kids on Sunday mornings in the cornfield. Because apparently everyone was just dandy with that idea. Then, at his signal, it turns out the kids are now a cult that worships He Who Walks Behind the Rows, and they kill all the adults in town… because.

Seriously, just because.

You never learn what He Who Walks Behind the Rows really wants from anyone or even what he really is. You think he’s the devil one moment, and then maybe a demon, and then maybe just some random monster. You just don’t know. And you have no clue what the motivations are. You learn it has been a few years since the Sunday morning killing of the adults, but there’s no mention of what has happened during that time other than they set up their own little dystopian society and that they somehow learned to make ethanol from the corn.

Speaking of the corn, where does He Who Walks Behind the Rows go during harvest time? Just curious.

Also, the two ‘good kids’ in town that we saw in the opening scene three years ago have somehow not aged a day in the ‘present day’ of the film.

The movie went on to make $14M in 1984 dollars off that $800,000 budget, yet a second film didn’t happen until eight years later. The budget clearly didn’t go to special effects, by the way. The ending confrontation with He Who Walks Behind the Rows is almost laughable in how bad the effects are. Yes, this is long before CGI, but do remember this is a post-Star Wars world still, and I’m not quite sure how any effects could be this bad.

The movie is just bad, top-to-bottom. Avoid it.

The Hotel New Hampshire

Based on a novel of the same name by John Irving – the man behind The World According to Garp – The Hotel New Hampshire is an uncomfortable movie to watch wrapped in a coating of “Oh, look at this fun, bohemian and quirky family!”

Meanwhile there is death, suicide, a taxidermied family dog, a gang rape, and a lengthy scene of sibling incest that is played like slapstick comedy.

It has a little bit of everything!

From the jump of the film, the sexual tension between the oldest siblings – John (Rob Lowe) and Franny (Jodie Foster) – is on front street. The movie makes no bones about the fact that they have feelings for each other and want to act upon them. They eventually do have sex in the third act of the film, and it is played off as slapstick complete with appropriate music, and is suggested it goes on for hours. Meanwhile, their younger sibling is left to fend for herself as she is sharing a hotel room with Franny.

The movie is quite frankly a disjointed, uncomfortable mess that feels like a bunch of ideas were thrown in a hat and they just went with whatever the pulled out of it that day. Good decision, bad decision, it didn’t matter, they filmed it.

Oh, and both siblings end up sleeping with Susie (Nastassja Kinski), but at least at different times.

It’s a weird pointless movie of vignettes that I can’t even begin to fathom how anyone thought it was a good idea.

Mike’s Murder

Mike’s Murder is a surprising little murder thriller that seems on the verge of being forgotten. Locating a copy for the purpose of this review took a bit of work, and then when I did find it it wasn’t the best copy.

Betty (Debra Winger) takes tennis lessons from Mike (Mark Keyloun) and ends up having a one-night stand with him. Over the course of the next two years they stay in some contact, but Mike always seems busy. Eventually he calls her and tells her he’s having some issues and next thing you know, he turns up dead. Betty then dives into trying to learn more about Mike, and it takes her into multiple parts of Los Angeles that she never even knew existed and the denizens of those micro-societies.

The film overall is fine, if somewhat predictable. What I was impressed by once again is Winger’s effortless performances. No matter what role she was performing at this time be it Urban Cowboy, Cannery Row, An Officer and a Gentleman, Terms of Endearment, or now in Mike’s Murder, her performances are effortless. You feel these are fully realized characters. She knows them, she’s done her homework on who they are, and that comes across the screen in a way you don’t often see. She was being nominated for a lot of awards around this time, but sadly didn’t get a chance to take most of them home. They were deserved.

Mike’s Murder is fine, it’s not a story that will rock your world, but it will add to your appreciation of Winger’s career.

1984 Movie Project - Splash - 01

Splash Review

(This review was originally published in 2019 when I first got this idea for the project. I watched the film again in 2024, and portions of the review have been updated.)

As with every film in this series of reviews, I’m watching them fresh. Nothing is being done from memory or half thoughts.

That being said, Splash was way better as a memory.

Splash tells the tale of a man (Tom Hanks) saved by a mermaid (Darryl Hannah) as a child, and then again as an adult. During the latter saving she finds his wallet in the ocean after returning him to the surface, and somehow decides she is in love with him. Then, in spite of everything else in our world she doesn’t grasp, she somehow can read his driver’s license and find him.

At times, Splash is heartwarming, and then at other moments, it feels like an episode of a sitcom that just goes on for too long. If it wasn’t for the effortless charm pouring off of Hanks and Hannah – and a good dose from John Candy – I’m not sure this film would have worked. The only bit that I find geuinenly funny was the brief scene where Madison tries to impress Alan with her newly learned English and how it turns into all game show references as that is how she learned the language. (Which, again, brings up how did she read his driver’s license earlier in the movie?)

This was only the third film directed by Ron Howard, and the first of his many partnerships with Tom Hanks. It’s a fun enough romantic comedy if you ignore some of the inconsistencies. It’s worthy viewing as a historical document for the early stages of these people’s careers, but it is certainly not great comedy. I didn’t dislike it, I was just very, very indifferent to it.

1984 Movie Reviews will return on March 16 with Tank!


Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing