Dark Night Of The Scarecrow REVIEW
Release Date: 21 May 2012
1981 | 15 | 97 minutes | £12.99
Distributor: Rockstone Films
Director: Frank De Felitta
Cast: Charles Durning, Jocelyn Brando, Tonya Crowe, Robert F Lyons, Claude Earl Jones, Lane Smith
This killer-scarecrow TV movie is pretty corny – but in all the right ways. Essentially a rural take on vengeance movies like Theatre Of Death, it sees those responsible for an innocent man’s murder meet appropriately agricultural ends: falling into a grinder, drowned in a grain silo, and so on.
Like much of the film, the set-up is both chilling and faintly ludicrous. When a little girl’s savaged by a dog, the blame is pinned on the simple-minded Bubba, who’s hiding disguised as a scarecrow when a four-man lynch mob blast him full of holes. After these “pillars of the community” get off scot-free, the same scarecrow keeps popping up as a harbinger of impending doom…
There are strong – if rather histrionic – performances from an array of I-know-that-guy thesps (including Lois & Clark’s Lane Smith). Charles Durning is particularly impressive as the vigilantes’ ruthless ringleader, a postie even more contemptible than that Yodel delivery man who leaves all your Amazon parcels on the doorstep.
The sound design is effective: all unearthly wind, pig squeals and strawy footsteps. Add the occasional striking image (Bubba dies, like Christ, suspended on a cross…), some surprisingly bleak twists and a dash of gallows humour, and you have a TV movie that’s pretty much all wheat and no chaff. Can we have Crowhaven Farm next, please?
Ian Berriman twitter.com/ianberriman
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