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Sunday, December 12, 2010

DVD Review: DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981)

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------Review by contributing writer Scott Baker------

DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW
Directed by Frank De Felitta
Courtesy of VCI Entertainment
Original Release: 1981
DVD Release: 2010

I’m going to be sentimental for a moment: this film holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first horror movies I ever watched. I first had the pleasure of seeing it way back in the day, when it aired on TV (I want to say it was on CBS, but don’t quote me on that). I wasn’t supposed to watch it because I was only a wee lad (I think I was seven at the time)…but I had a knack for being sneaky. This skill might have been a curse instead of a blessing though because this film haunted me for a long time after I saw it.

If you’ve never heard of Dark Night of the Scarecrow, you’re probably not alone. I was only recently released on DVD. The plot is basically this:

Bubba Ritter is a mentally handicapped man in his 20s who has the mind of a child. He lives in a small town in the South and enjoys playing with the local children. One day, a young girl Bubba is playing with is mauled by a dog. Bubba fights the dog off and then, confused and unsure of what to do, carries the injured girl to her house and leaves her on the porch. Some of the men in the town believe Bubba is the one that hurt the girl and hunt him down. Bubba flees and hides in a scarecrow’s clothes out in the field. But the men find him and shoot him in cold blood. The men stand trial but are let go on a technicality. Shortly thereafter, the men who were involved in the shooting begin to die mysteriously and a lone scarecrow figure is the only one around when it happens…

I had the pleasure of seeing this film again at the 2010 Texas Frightmare and I’m happy to say it’s just as good and as scary as it was when I saw it for the first time. Actor Larry Drake portrays Bubba and does an amazing job with the part. Drake will forever always be Dr. Giggles to me, but this role is for sure a close second.

The supporting cast is also full of notable Hollywood icons. Charles Durning , who is one of the hardest working men in Hollywood, does an outstanding job of portraying the ring-leader of the killers. And Robert F. Lyons is perfect as one of his accomplices, Skeeter Norris.

One of the coolest things about this film is that there’s no profanity and practically no gore…and it’s still creepy as hell! It takes a talented filmmaker to pull something like that off. The cinematography really helps accentuate the mood, too, with long, stationary shots and dark, bleak tones.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I would have to say that the only disappointing aspect to the film IS the lack of gore. I say that probably because I’m so used to seeing it in modern horror movies that a film without it seems to be missing something. Not to mention the fact that it’s just good, plain fun. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy seeing the end result of someone getting shoved into a wood chipper?

All in all, though, Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a definite win and one that I’m certainly adding to my DVD collection. It’s not for everyone, especially if you are a fan of graphic violence. But it’s a great film and will certainly give you a chill after it’s over.
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*********************NOTE FROM ZOMBIE HAYES************************
Thanks Scott, for the great review. I absolutely love this film and
think it is one of, if not, THE best made for TV Horror movie ever
made. Even with the lack of gore as you mentioned, it is scary and
manages to maintain a creepy tone throughout the film.

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer
CLICK HERE to purchase the DVD
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CLICK HERE to visit the official website of VCI Entertainment

1 comment:

  1. I must admit, this is my FAVORITE scarecrow horror movie. It was awesome and timeless.

    ReplyDelete