Night of the Scarecrow (1995)
User ReviewsReview this title
Mike Mayo says the film "is nicely photographed with a few bloody good touches". I think this is pretty spot on. The movie really does look pretty sharp, particularly for an independent film, and the gore is respectable. Any horror fan should eat it right up. The special effects, for the most part, were above and beyond what you might expect.
Lead actress Elizabeth Barondes was likable. I do not recall ever seeing her in anything else (although she did the remake of "Not of This Earth" the same year), but she deserved to be a bigger star. Apparently too late now, as she has moved on to become an interior designer. The rest of the cast is good, too, and fans of "Dodgeball" or "Office Space" will appreciate Stephen Root in the role of a sheriff.
Of particular interest to me was the "orgy" scene. Filmed in crisp sepia, with plenty of throbbing and corpulent flesh. These are not all beautiful people, but they are animalistic, and I think director Jeff Burr really did himself a favor by including this scene, pushing the boundaries of the film just a bit further.
Burr, in general, deserves respect. Sadly, this film is probably overshadowed by the similarly named "Dark Night of the Scarecrow". But they are both good films and have their own sensibilities. This one is much darker, much more gory. Burr's career is one horror sequel after another, which he does fine at, but his best work shines through in his original pieces like this one and "From a Whisper to a Scream".
As of 2012, Olive Films has finally released this movie on to DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time. I have not seen their version, but I hope it is cleaned up nice and has a special feature or two. The Netflix streaming version is full frame and somewhat fuzzy, suggesting a VHS transfer. I know this film does not have the fan following of other mid-1990s horror films, but perhaps with the Netflix exposure more people will push the right people to give this film a decent release.
Super sexy Claire (Elizabeth Barondes) returns home to the small California town where her dad William (Gary Lockwood) is the mayor. She's just in time, too: soon after she gets there drunken youngster Danny (John Hawkes of 'Deadwood' and "Winter's Bone") desecrates the resting place of a spirit that then proceeds to inhabit the body of a scarecrow; said scarecrow goes about slaughtering the descendants of the man who attempted to put the spirit to rest. Claire teams up with hunky local Dillon (John Mese) to fight the rampaging scarecrow.
The good thing is that "Night of the Scarecrow" isn't boring. Burr keeps it lively and makes sure that it never stops moving. The monster itself, played by Howard Swain, inspires no fright at all, and in fact all scenes with it come off as silly. The special effects, a mixture of mechanical, makeup, and digital work, are generally pretty good, and it is fun to see characters suffer a variety of truly nasty and imaginative fates. These are the kinds of things one simply has to laugh at. Impressive camera-work and good spooky music by Jim Manzie help to keep this watchable.
The actors do their best at selling this standard material. Barondes is very easy on the eyes, which doesn't hurt at all. Bruce Glover ("Walking Tall", "Chinatown") gets an opportunity to tear into the scenery as the local minister - the type of minister who peruses risqué photos when alone in his church, Stephen Root ("Office Space", 'NewsRadio') is fine as the sheriff, Dirk Blocker ("Poltergeist", "Prince of Darkness") appears as a farmer, and Lockwood ("2001: A Space Odyssey", "Firecreek") is amusing as the mayor. Cult actress Martine Beswick plays Glovers' wife, and Duane Whitaker and Joe Unger are Roots' deputies.
A decent if unremarkable viewing for the horror fanatic, "Night of the Scarecrow" does begin and end with a flourish. One could do worse.
Seven out of 10.
Supernatural slasher milks the scarecrow idea for all it's worth. One scene has the scarecrow planting a seed within the lusty daughter of Priest Uncle Thaddeus(Bruce Glover, appropriately hammy as a corrupt priest who reads lingerie magazines while alone in his church)as it explodes wooden branches from her skin. Another has the scarecrow sowing Uncle Thaddeus' mouth shut. Oh, and you especially like the scene where the scarecrow causes one poor soul to grow straw from his facial orifices, fingers and torso. One scene has the scarecrow blowing straw into a cop's face like little nails that stab the guy in the face. Lots of WTF? death sequences that cause one to giggle..
Some recognizable faces include Dirk Blocker as drunken Uncle George who gets shredded by his tractor, Stephen Root as sheriff Uncle Frank who receives straw "needles" into his face, Martine Beswick as Uncle Thaddeus' wife Barbara(she likes to sew, so this ought to hint at how she'll likely perish), and John Hawkes as Danny, the nuisance who unearthed the warlock to begin with. Director Jeff Burr tries to inject some style into the incredibly asinine premise, but to enjoy this you'll have to accept the film on it's terms. Judging by the film's user rating, few have..
** (out of 4)
A young woman (Elizabeth Barondes) returns home to learn that her family is about to sell their corn fields so that a mall can take its place. The woman is against this idea and especially after an evil warlock takes control of a scarecrow and starts to kill her family. NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW has a pretty good idea for a movie but the screenplay ends up not doing too much with it and in the end we've pretty much just got your standard slasher film with a few memorable death scenes but nothing else. All of the characters are pretty much bland and that includes the leads who simply never bring much energy to their roles. Most of the supporting players are forgettable as well with the exception of Bruce Glover who plays a preacher with a big mouth. The make up effects for the most part are pretty good and we do get a couple fairly interesting death scenes. A few people are pretty much stitched up or turned into scarecrows and these scenes look very good as does another one where a woman gives birth to one. The look of the scarecrow was quite good so it's a shame more wasn't done for him. The entire subplot about the warlock never really added anything to the picture so a straight revenge tale probably would have been better. Still, horror fans into the scarecrow sub-genre will find the monsters good enough to give it a view but there are certainly better films out there.
Rated R; Nudity, Violence, Sexual Situations, and Profanity.
I think the characters in this movie are very well written and you care about each and everyone of them (since many of the characters have different personalities it gets much more entertaining to watch this movie).
The special effects are top notch (if Im not mistaken done by the same team who worked on the Elm Street movies), the death scenes are very cool as well even though they aren't that bloody (if you've seen the movie you know what I am talking about).
Already from the opening sequence you get the "Children Of The Corn" vibes and you're drawn into the movie immediately. The only problem with the movie is that it gets a little bit drawn out during half of the running time.
I am ready to give Night Of The Scarecrow a 7/10 stars. I would say it's Jeff Burr's worst movie I've seen so far but by saying that I don't mean it's bad in any way (only that his other movies are so damn good).
The acting ranged from quite good to ham, and although I wished the scarecrow didn't talk it was still a pretty creepy-looking horror villain.
Jeff Burr has proven himself to be an okay genre director. His first movie, The Offspring, was great, and his Stepfather and Pumpkinhead sequels were better than average. Even Leatherface was okay, though his version of the movie was seriously tampered with before release. Night of the Scarecrow doesn't make me long to see his other movies, but I'd pick them up if I tripped over them.
ON A SCALE OF 1 - 10 STARS (10 BEING BEST)
I GIVE "NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW"
ON THE POSITIVE SIDE:
1) INNOVATIVE (Strong and unique plot line that plays on the Scarecrow of the "WIZARD OF OZ" 2) GOOD EFFECTS (Realistic and scary) 3) GREAT MONSTER (Cool monster suit)
ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE:
10) OKAY ACTING (SOME OF THE ACTING NEEDED WORK)
I cannot point to something bad either. Acting is not good or bad, just medium TV-level stuff. Effects are no worse or repulsive than in many other movies that belong to the genre. It is just...boring. Avoid this film, unless all other channels broadcast only cricket or baseball games (no offense intended - replace those by the two sports that you cannot understand)
Movie gets going with the town mayor holding a speech complete with college brass band for the grand opening of a new mall as an indication that the alleged sleepy one horse farming town is actually thriving. While this is going on there's an argument ensuing between 2 guys and it ends up with one happening to fire the other one for his irresponsible ways.
That night the recently fired young man does what every country rube appears to do in these situations; get drunk, break into a shed, steal a tractor and drive dangerously through a corn field. In doing so they happen to drive over a large stone slab implanted in the ground with a cross carved into the surface.
Once that is done, an evil presence emerges and transfers into a nearby scarecrow, refilling it with fresh straw. The scarecrow then sets about killing people.
It's not until you're halfway into the movie that a recently attacked priest tells the story of the town founders 100 years prior and a deal they made with a warlock. The townspeople were starving, the ground was unfit for growing, so they made this pact to enable bumper crops and good times. In return the warlock seduced the towns women forcing them to engage in debauchery; including the daughter of the town leader. Using the warlocks spell book against him, they crucified him, waited for him to die then burnt his body and buried it in the cornfield. The bones had a spell cast and the stone slab placed over as a seal. Normally after you'd hear a story like this you'd be thinking the person is drunk or spaced out and in need of a lot of therapy, but not our 2 hapless heroes, this rambling fantastical story just spurs them into action of tracking down a killer scarecrow.
Now the scarecrow, possessed by the warlock spirit, is going around getting revenge on the descendants of the town founders and hunting down his book so he can be a real live boy again. The race is on to find the old guys bones and dispose of them once and for all.
The story of age old revenge and great great grandsons/daughters having to pay the price for old misdeeds has been done to death in a thousand other horror movies and it's been done much better than in this outing. The idea of killing the very people who have the information on the whereabouts of whatever the demon/ghost/spirit/scarecrow etc happens to be looking for always seemed counterproductive to me but seeing as I'm not any of those things yet, what do I know? I do know that as far as scarecrow movies go, this is far from being great and there's no real reason to go out of your way to hunt this down. It's worth a look on late night TV or a "let's make fun of stupid horror movies" marathon.