Day 11 - Dark Night Of The Scarecrow (1981)
PLOT - In a small town, a wrongfully killed man exacts revenge on those who murdered him beyond the grave.
LOWDOWN - For years I had always heard about how amazing the made for TV movie Dark Night Of The Scarecrow was. In fact it took me years until I bought it as a bootleg one time five or six years ago at a convention but never seemed to get around to watching it. Time passed and finally it wasn't until I attended my very first HorrorHound in 2010 that my friend Nate asked me if I could look for the movie for him. There I stumbled upon the booth where director Frank De Felitta was along with some pretty awesome original props from the movie such as the mail man's hat and the white flower that we all remember the scarecrow carrying at the very end of the movie. At the time I haven't seen the film yet, but I knew who Frank was. There he signed the DVD for Nate free of charge and as soon as I got back I headed to the guy's dorm where we got a little...messed up to say the least and turned off all the lights to enjoy this 1981 classic.
I remember as fucked up as I was, I loved the movie. It had the classic late 70's/early 80's gritty feel to it, and the fact this was originally a made for TV movie blew my blind. 1981 as we all know was an awesome year for horror, and the fact this was released right around Halloween on CBS of all channels, still amazes me. The story told the tragic tale of a grown man who was mentally disabled, and who's only friend is a young girl from the small farming town he lives in. Day after day the two play together in harmless innocent fun since the man's own mind is like a child himself. Sadly a group of men from town including the mail man has a huge problem with this friendship and are just looking for a chance to prove that something is going on that shouldn't be. It isn't until one day the young girl wanders into the back yard of a house and a dog attacks her. Scared the man scoops her up covered in blood and takes her to the house where the little girl's mother believes it was him who did this to her little girl. Running away scared the man returns to his mother's house as the group of men with dogs are speeding down to road to lynch him. Going into his "hiding" spot he runs away and it isn't long until the men find a dead end in one of the fields. Here the mail man noticed the dogs all barking around the lone scarecrow that hangs up on a post and when he gets a closer look he sees the poor man's terrified eyes behind the sack mask. There the men fire their guns killing him, and then planting a pitchfork calming it was self defense. After getting just a slap on the wrists from the local law, the men are freed to go and it's proven by the little girl herself that it was the dog that hurt her, not her poor friend. Deciding to keep everything a secret, the men decide to carry on as if nothing happened, never speaking about the faithful afternoon where they murdered an innocent man in cold blood.
It isn't long before all the men involved in day begin getting killed in mysterious farming accidents. The mail man begins to panic as he sees the same scarecrow hanging back up in the fields. Is it the man's ghost back from revenge...or somebody else?
I remember watching my friends Andy and Nate get into a pretty amusing argument over if somebody could die after being crushed up hundreds of pounds of grain. Besides that, I remember stumbling home holding into my roommate's arm because it was so dark I thought I was going to fall into a hole in the road (...) yeah...
Anywho it wasn't until HorrorHound again a few years later that I saw Frank again selling the DVD's and bootlegs. I walked up deciding to finally buy the movie and asked which version was better. He told me the blu-ray and even tho I didn't even own a player yet I bought it (smart). It was pretty cool tho once I got a blu-ray player a few months later. The fact they were able to restore this movie all the way from 1981 amazes me. For HD nuts, this movie is crystal clear. All the hard work paid off.
Dark Night Of The Scarecrow is a classic movie with a talented cast and crew behind it and a very well written story. I loved the small farming town setting around the fall, and of course the mystery that surrounds the entire plot. The last ten or so minutes are beyond awesome and in my eyes one of the better endings when it comes to horror. The very last shot/line is amazing. Another scene that I always loved is when the man's mother is speaking to the mail man and comments on how she's seen the way he's looking at the little girl. Makes the movie even more creepy as the plot develops. Is the movie gory? No, is it well written, yes. This movie makes up for the lack of blood with unsettling creepy images, along with the wonderful score. A must to watch around Halloween.
I only hope the cast begins to do more conventions soon since I just love the photos of them now holding the original props.
Even tho we live in the world of reboots and horrible remakes, I feel a movie like Dark Night could get the remake treatment IF done the right way, maybe even get Frank back to tell this creepy tale in a modern setting. My torn when it comes to remakes, most of the time they are rushed pieces of shit. For Dark Night even if it was a made for SyFy movie or direct to blu-ray I think it would be awesome to see an update on this certain story. One thing I would do was maybe make it that Bubba was cast as a slightly younger man who maybe had an affair with a local woman which resulted in the little girl character. I would make this back story that the woman either died in childbirth or ran off after the baby was born so her parents who were also living in town decided to keep the baby and raise it allowing her father who's mentally disabled to visit and play with her. I think this would have a certain element to the story since both maybe don't exactly understand that their father and daughter and love each other more like friends. I feel that would be a great chance if it was ever re-done. Also if it was direct to Blu-ray bring on the blood. Farming equipment always results in great deaths!
Nevertheless Dark Night Of The Scarecrow is the perfect movie to watch around Halloween. This was back when made for TV movies were still awesome and watchable!