Saturday, January 12, 2013

Never Kill A Scarecrow

I have money again! I'm so happy. Since I was only getting holiday pay the last couple of weeks, I was just barely getting by with my bills, but had no money for little old me...or my cats for that matter. Now I'm ahead again, and hopefully will stay that way. Outside of money issues, I've actually been in a writing mood lately. I can't hardly believe it. I started my last review, but stopped part way through to do something else for a bit. Usually that means I will pick it up again some other day, but I did actually get it finished later that night. For today I watched the made-for-TV movie Dark Night Of The Scarecrow (1981). Which I passed on a couple of years ago at a convention.

Bubba (Larry Drake) is a mentally challenged guy who's mind is like a child. His best friend is Marylee (Tonya Crowe), who actually is a child. Some of the people in town don't like Bubba hanging out with Marylee though. While he might have the mind of a child, he is actually an adult after all. The person who seems to have the biggest problem with this is Otis (Charles Durning), the local postman, who might like Marylee a little too much. Otis doesn't seem to care for Bubba much at all really. While out for a walk, Marylee goes into someones yard to check out their garden gnomes. Even though Bubba warns her not to, she pays for it when a dog attacks her. Otis gets word that Marylee was killed and that Bubba is the one that killed her, so he rounds up the good ol' boys and goes to hunt Bubba down. Bubba's mom (Jocelyn Brando) tries to hide Bubba by making him look like a scarecrow, but Otis and crew manages to find him anyway. Things don't end well for Bubba. Soon after word comes down that Marylee wasn't killed and it was in fact Bubba who saved her. After getting away with their crime, someone or something is after Otis and his pals.

One year at HorrorHound they showed six movies in a row with very little breaks in between them. Having not had anything to eat all day, and was starting to get a whopper of a headache, I decided to skip Dark Night Of The Scarecrow so I could fill my empty stomach, and hopefully get ride of my headache. One of those two things worked. While I still think I made the right choice, I did hate to miss out on a movie. Well it all worked out since I did get to watch it after all, which I figured I would somewhere down the line. We got back in time to listen to J.D. Feigelson talk about how the film was going to get a DVD release at long last, which it now also has a Blu-ray disk, and how the ratings wasn't the best when the movie first aired on CBS, but they noticed as the movie went on, the ratings improved. There was more, but those are the things that I can still remember.

For a made-for-TV, Dark Night Of The Scarecrow is very good. After watching a few on Syfy, one tends to forget that they can be really good at times. I was a little surprised that the main character wasn't Bubba, though he sort of starts out that way, but Otis instead. It isn't often that the main character is the bad guy of the film.While we may not like the guy at all, which is something we hope to do with main characters, I think everyone wants to see him get his justice so we are invested. Director Frank De Felitta does a great job of keeping us in the dark as to who is doing the killings. Are they just accidents or is someone really killing people. While we may have a pretty good idea, it isn't known until the very end. There was some people that didn't like this, but considering when the film was made, it really shouldn't be a big surprise.

Of course this isn't a gory film, but there was a couple of scenes that surprised me all the same. Bubba's death was one such surprise. Not gory by what we see today, but I was still surprised to see bullet holes and some blood in that scene. The acting was the real joy for the film though. It was cool to see Larry Drake before becoming Dr. Giggles. He does a great job with his character, as does Tonya Crowe. I was also surprised by how many faces I knew from other films. Not just Larry Drake, but also Charles Durning and Lane Smith. Robert F. Lyons and Claude Earl Jones round out the bad guy group.

I guess what made Dark Night Of The Scarecrow fun to watch, besides the wonderful acting, was how they managed to get creepy things in when you least expected it. The best example of that is when Marylee informs Otis that she knows a lot more than anyone suspected. What happens when Otis visits Bubba's mom in her home and of course the ending will probably send a chill up your spine. Netflix doesn't carry the Blu-ray disk, but from what I have read about it, it is worth getting if you like this movie enough to find it. It has been re-mastered and has some cool features, including a reunion with J.D. Feigelson, Larry Drake and Tonya Crowe from a convention a couple of years ago. If you haven't watched this one, give it a try someday. Unless it sounds boring to you, it is well worth a watch.
4 out of 5 I wouldn't have to dress up to scare crows away


Michael West said...

LOVE this movie!

Aaron said...

Great movie. I watched it on DVD and whoever put it out did an amazing job of cleaning it up. It's amazing that this was made for television! Speaking of HorrorHound, the one I went to last September, there was a guy who stayed on the same floor as me in the hotel who had a pretty awesome costume of the scarecrow from this movie. He alternated between that costume and the killer from My Bloody Valentine while walking around at the convention.