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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 185: Night Of The Scarecrow

Night Of The Scarecrow
Give me a "hand" haha. Seriously, help me.

Horror is full of monsters, demons, aliens, and all sorts of evil creatures taken from the deepest, darkest recesses of the human mind. We have the classic menagerie of evil with vampires, werewolves, zombies, Frankenstein monsters, and mummies. In the 70's and 80's, we saw the rise of the slasher and supernatural killer. We've even seen multiples movies involving giant animals and mythological creatures. One monster that has made an occasional, but rare appearance is the scarecrow. Are people actually afraid of scarecrows? Are crows actually afraid of scarecrows? I know I'm not, but done correctly, I guess they could be scarely. Done incorrectly, they're just hunks of straw murdering people.

Night Of The Scarecrow is a 1995 horror movie starring Elizabeth Barondes (ER, Lois & Clark) as Claire Goodman and John Mese (Profiler, American Gothic) as Dillon. Claire has just returned to her small town where her father William is the mayor. She flirts with Dillon and invites him to dinner, much to her father's disapproval. After dinner, Dillon and Claire go to a bar, where Dillon has an altercation with a local named Danny (John Hawkes, Deadwood, Identity). A drunken Danny decides to take revenge on Dillon by taking his farm equipment and driving it through a corn field. He unwittingly crushes a stone and releases the spirit of a warlock, which possesses a scarecrow. The scarecrow goes around town murdering people, including relatives of Claire. Her uncle, Father Thaddeus, explains that when the town was settled, crops would not grown and the town was in trouble. A mysterious man arrived, through magic, was able to help the crops grow and the town flourish. He began to exert his power over the town by having crazy orgies. The town poisoned the warlock and used his own magic to trap his spirit in the stone that had been smashed. Now he is looking for revenge on the descendants of those who wronged him and to reincarnate himself. Will Claire and Dillon be able to stop this pile of magical straw?

Which way to the next Batman movie?

When a movie involves a killer scarecrow, you can't expect much. The movie tries to explain things, but gives up about halfway in hopes that the audience will be dazzled with scarecrow murder. When the plot of your story is “Warlock becomes scarecrow,” you focus more on killing and violence. Everything that occurs in the movie is very convenient and the ending is extremely predictable. It takes far to long to explain what is happening, and by the time they get around to it, you don't really care. The movie focuses on a wide variety of violence with some decent blood. It has your standard hacking and slashing, but when magic becomes involved, things start to get laughably weird. Making straw pour out of someones body is kind of funny, but it just looks so bad. I don't even think CGI and computer graphics can make something like that work. There is one scene where Claire's cousin is raped by the scarecrow. It's very uncomfortable to watch and then to see her body “explode” with straw/tentacles and it really adds nothing to the movie.

The movie is wonderfully early 90's. The clothes, hair, and quality of film makes me want to drink Surge and listen to Helmet. Elizabeth Barondes and John Mese put on passable performances, but it's far more enjoyable watching future stars, like John Hawkes and Stephen Root (Dodgeball, Newsradio) outshine the lead actors. The scarecrow itself actually looks half decent, though not scary at all. They tried to alter it's voice to make the creature more supernatural, but it just sounds like Venom from the mid-90's Spider-Man cartoon. The effects are mediocre, but not to the point where you can "see the strings," if you know what I mean.

Tentacles. Why is it always tentacles?

Night Of The Scarecrow is best watched with a group of friends late at night, possibly after some drinks. It's a fun watch in a terrible sort of way. The concept is silly and it's not very scary. There are some good killing scenes and some unintentionally hilarious ones. The orgy scene probably scarred me for life because the adult content and nudity involved people who should never be seen naked and bumping and grinding. The acting is decent with better performances coming from the supporting cast. The story is pretty weak, but you might get a kick out of watching it. Scarecrows still aren't scary and I don't know if they'll ever be,


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