|Also good for skee-ball.|
Whether they're helping little girls along yellow brick roads, matching wits with Batman, standing sentinel in a field, or decorating someone's porch in Autumn, I just have an affinity for ragged men stuffed with straw. I like the aesthetic of them, I like the idea of them. I mean, the fact that farmers stuff clothes with dead grain and hang them on a post in the middle of a field to scare away birds seems like it should be a farming community secret, not a widely known quirk of rural life.
For some reason, despite the fact that it was made for scaring, the scarecrow has just not been well used in the horror genre. The one exception to that might be the 1981 film, Dark Night of the Scarecrow.
The story is basic to the point of uninteresting. A retarded man named Bubba is chased down by local vigilantes for a crime he didn't commit and hides in a scarecrow outfit in the middle of an empty field, only to be found out and executed on the spot. He then returns from the dead in said scarecrow outfit to wreak unretarded supernatural vengeance on the four men.
However, even though the plot is trite, the execution is impressive, somehow creating regular moments of genuine intensity, even while it deals with murder, pedophilia, and supernatural retribution in network-TV-approved ways that you could watch with a 10-year-old.
|This man stormed the beaches of Normandy and survived|
a POW massacre, but all he wants to do is dance.
Second, although the premise sounds like a slasher movie, the film is relatively bloodless due to 1980s TV mores. However, the violence isn’t merely downplayed, it’s creatively suggested, with such items as swinging light fixtures, garden gnomes, and farm machinery replacing such horrors as dog mauling, human mulchification, and suffocation by silo. You can tell a lot about a movie by the images it uses to suggest violence. This restraint contributes invaluably toward the overall creepiness of the movie.
|Finally, an exhumation scene with a reaction |
that would mirror my own.
With all that, and the fact that it features a very random and short Halloween party scene in the middle (it originally debuted a week before Halloween), Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a solid, eerie Halloween choice, now that it has finally become a choice, for anybody’s dark night.