With a few exceptions, the 90s were a pretty dark time for horror movies. The big names that had come up in the 70s and 80s seemed to lose their way a bit. Carpenter was giving us Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Romero only managed to get 2 films made all decade and as for Tobe Hooper…
And so the year before Wes Craven would, for better or worse, completely revitalise the slasher movie with Scream, we got Night of the Scarecrow.
In 1995, slasher movies seemed to be on a desperate hunt for a new Freddy or Jason, and so we got films like Sleep Stalker, in which the killer was made of sand, and The Fear, where, umm, the killer was made of wood. Now we get Scarecrow, where the killer is made of straw.
Like I said, it was a dark time.
The good news (for me, anyway) is that the film is directed by Jeff Burr, who can usually be relied on to turn in some entertaining schlock. Texas Chainsaw 3, Pumpkinhead 2, and most notably the excellent From a Whisper to a Scream all bear his mildly distinctive mark.
Sadly, Night of the Scarecrow falls short of even the low bar set by Pumpkinhead 2.
In what amounts to a bit of a rip-off of Fulci’s The Beyond, a warlock is crucified and burned by angry townspeople and returns to inhabit the body of a scarecrow, and seek his revenge. It differs from The Beyond by having the warlock resurrected by a combination of urine and a combine harvester. Bet Fulci was kicking himself not to have thought of that.
The scarecrow himself provides a few laughs, but for all the wrong reasons. With his big friendly smile and goofy button eyes, he’s more adorable than frightening. Unfortunately, he also comes armed with a quip for every occasion. The worst is when – and I swear I am NOT making this up – he appears out of a hay stack courtesy of some laughable early CGI and says – seriously, guys, he says this –
‘Well HAY there’
Hay there. Fuck off, Scarecrow.
The dialogue is similarly bad for the human characters. The supposed tough guys simply repeat what the other guy said back at them. Get a load of this preposterous exchange.
‘See you around.’
‘Oh, you’ll see me around. Count on it.’
‘Oh, I’m gonna count on it.’
I did appreciate the great 90s fashions on display, particularly the main couple’s total aversion to any form of sleeves, even on a leather jacket. There’s also a surprising amount of violence and nudity to keep your mind from wandering, and the effects are pretty inventive and spectacular. And don’t you think the main actor looks like a cross between Bradley Cooper and Scott Bakula? Oh you don’t? Well, just forget I asked then.
Passable enough entertainment for slasher completists, I guess, but man, 90s slashers really were the pits.
WHAT BORIS THOUGHT: Boris wondered why the film was called NIGHT of the Scarecrow, seeing as how it takes place over several NIGHTS.
OVERALL: 2 Paws out of 5