Thursday, October 7, 2010
The Director: Frank De Felitta
The Cast: Charles Durning, Robert F. Lyons, Larry Drake
Release Date: October 24, 1981
I've long searched for the perfect killer scarecrow film, and I'm pretty sure Dark Night of the Scarecrow is as good as I'm gonna find. The film focuses on a group of bigoted men who murder a mentally challenged fellow named Bubba (Darkman's Larry Drake), who then returns to haunt them in the form of a scarecrow. Borrowing from the slasher films of the era, the scarecrow is never seen and kills often occur from his perspective, though this is hardly your typical slasher. (In fact, the film was made for television and features little gore or sexual content.)
There's something to be said for a horror like this which focuses on adults, who are living with a lifetime of their own prejudices. These men are terrorized by the unseen killer, and it's effective to the viewer because one can tell that these people truly don't believe that anything like this could happen to them. I think teen-based horrors sometimes miss this point when they give characters a quick understanding of the terror that surrounds them. It's scarier to see someone realize they've been wrong all their life as they're facing doom.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a revenge film under the guise of a slasher, and a darn good one at that. Recently released on DVD for the first time, I strongly recommend you seek out Dark Night of the Scarecrow, and enjoy an old-fashioned terror tale. (Even if it does star Charles Durning, who always does something to make me mad at him.)