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Tuesday 11 October 2011

Burl reviews Scarecrows! (1988)

Hi, Burl here to review a movie in a subgenre which I should theoretically love, but which for the most part has never thrilled me like it ought! I’m talking about scarecrow movies of course, which have been spooky to me in a more or less academic way ever since I saw that chilling TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow as a wee lad! Ever since then I’ve thought that scarecrows have an awful lot of terrifying potential!

Given that, it might seem little strange that I didn’t bother seeing Scarecrows until recently! But in my neck of the woods the only version available was the severely edited cut, with all the gruesome scarecrow mayhem removed! Ha ha, why bother, I thought! One day I’ll get the chance to see it uncut! And that turned out to be absolutely true!

I’d always heard it was a scary movie, and I’ll give it this: it’s scarier than any given episode of the TV show Scarecrow and Mrs. King! And you know, since that’s dam*ing it with some pretty faint praise, I’ll go a step further: it has some nice cornfield atmosphere (despite being shot in Florida!), some pretty interesting gore and a few fairly effective sequences!

The story is a simple one! Some robbers are flying away from their successful if violently concluded heist (unseen, as in Reservoir Dogs) when they experience a betrayal at the hands of an Australian! He parachutes out with the booty, and it’s up to the rest of the bandits, along with their father-daughter pilot hostages, to follow him down into the old cornfield to reclaim the millions! However, they’re not counting on – and you know, no one ever counts on – killer scarecrows!

The scarecrows’ larger agenda is a little obscure, but it involves pulling out people’s guts! They’ll also poke at you a bit with farm implements! The stuffies are apparently three farmer fellows who used to live in the abandoned stilt house which the robbers find in the middle of the field, but, aside from some hints of pagan worship having taken place there at one time, how and why these particular hayseeds became scarecrow men is not revealed! Ha ha, and why are they so darn vicious? We never find out!

But it hardly matters! What matters in this movie is how their viciousness manifests itself, and, thanks to makeup man Norman Cabrera, who was probably extremely overworked on this show, things get pretty bloody! And also, further praise to Mr. Cabrera, the scarecrows look great! The movie itself looks pretty good too, thanks to cinematography from Peter Deming, who also shot great movies like Evil Dead II and Lost Highway!

It’s not as scary or as good as I’d been led to believe, but altogether this is a pretty decent bit of late-80s horror! I’d put it on or at least near the level of Pumpkinhead, which I’ll review here soon! (I’m going to try to review all the autumnal horror movies I can through this month, ha ha!) I give Scarecrows two bloody dollar bills!

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