Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Originally premiering on CBS as a made-for-TV movie, this brilliantly-crafted revenge film shares as much in common with Hitchcockian suspense thrillers as it does with the early 80's Slashers of its time, minus the gratuitous gore. DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW finds the simpleminded Bubba on the run from an unruly mob after he is falsely accused of killing a young girl. The four vigilantes find Bubba hiding in an empty field dressed as a scarecrow, and ruthlessly murder him before finding out that he was innocent of the crime. Now, Bubba has come back for revenge, donning the burlap mask and pitchfork that he was left to die in! Film legends Charles Durning and Lane Smith headline as the town baddies in two of their most admirable performances. Unlike FRIDAY THE 13th or MY BLOODY VALENTINE of the same year, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW provides all of the same gruesome murders and without spilling even a single drop of blood, tastefully cutting away from the actual event while implying the worst. Director Frank de Filetta delivers a steady stream of chilling suspense, teasing the audience with scarecrow calling cards that are left in distant fields to intimidate Bubba's killers while foreshadowing who will be the next to die. The most terrifying moment comes in the film's thrilling climax, where Bubba stalks his final victim through a foggy pumpkin patch on Halloween night. DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW is not only an excellent Slasher movie, but also one of the strongest made-for-TV Horror films of all-time!

Rating: 9/10.

If you liked DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, check out:
PUMPKINHEAD, THE BURNING, SCARECROWS.

11 comments:

  1. Hmmm... I was hoping you'd totally hate this and give it, like, 3/10 stars. Then I could've helpfully offered to have you send me YOUR dvd copy of it, thereby taking it off your hands.

    Rats. Guess I'll have to spring for it myself. Thanks for nothin', selfish Carl. ;)

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  2. Cannot wait to see this after so many rave reviews and people dying to see it. I have never laid eyes on it, so I am excited!

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  3. I remember this from my childhood. It scared the hell out of me as an impressionable youngster, so I'm eager to see it again.

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  4. Imagine my surprise when it landed in the mail yesterday, I had only seen the film once before but no copy I have seen anywhere has ever had the same crisp picture and excellent sound quality. This is one of VCI's best releases, it's well worth throwing down for!

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  5. Sweetness. I will have to get a copy. I've heard others talk about it but have never seen it.

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  6. I remember the day after this program aired, it was all my friends and I at school could talk about! It's a fantastic flick, and one that deserves more mention among fans of horror. I'll always remember Charles Durning's scared and sweaty face, as he sees the circle of death tightening around him; leaving him for last!

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  7. Durning really was fantastic, and my skin crawls when he corners the girl in the hallway on Halloween. I think this one has had a solid 2 decades worth of word of mouth, so this DVD release should expose it to a huge new audience!

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  8. Somehow I missed this as a kid--but no more! It's all Netflixed-queued up and ready to go!

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  9. I remember pressuring my mom to hurry up and get me home from trick or treating the night it premiered. Missed the first ten minutes, but caught up with it again the following year and saw it from start to finish that time. It's probably the best made for tv horror movie ever.

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  10. I'm afraid that I've long stayed away from this cult flick, assuming that it is an overrated little piece of 80's slasher-junk fondly remembered by nostalgic former teens.

    The more I read about it, though, the more I'm realizing that I'm missing out on a little goodie. What could be more perfect for a Halloween movie than a spooky Scarecrow?

    As I read these comments I note that the director is Frank De Felitta, author of two book/films I admire, THE ENTITY and AUDREY ROSE. That does it. I'm in. See you in October.

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  11. DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW definitely does not benefit from its similarities to the Slasher genre. It is rarely gory, but always ominous in mood and draped in an increasingly creepy atmosphere. Given your other tastes and preferences based on the recent comments, you won't be able to miss this one!

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