Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Dark Night Of The Scarecrow (1981)

Fondly remembered by many as one of the scariest TV movies ever made, let me bring everyone crashing down to the here and now by simply saying that it's not. Dark Night Of The Scarecrow is a good little film, and it has a few nice, spooky moments but it's not up there with the likes of Don't Go To Sleep (which I can't find anywhere on DVD but can find HERE on YouTube in its entirety), Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark and, of course, Ghostwatch.

The story is all about the kindly but mentally challenged Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake), a man who spends a lot of time hanging about with a young girl called Marylee (Tonya Crowe). When Marylee is attacked by a big dog, Bubba gets the blame. There are a number of local men (stirred up by Otis P. Hazelrigg, played by Charles Durning) looking for any excuse to teach him a lesson and the harming of the young girl gives them all the impetus they need. Frightened Bubba tries to hide himself as a scarecrow but it's no good. The men discover and kill him. When they realise that they made a mistake, the little girl ends up recovering and her life was actually saved by Bubba, they begin to worry. Thankfully, the court believes the story that they concoct and they remain free men. Justice will have to be served in another way.

Directed by Frank De Felitta, and scripted by J. D. Feigelson (who wrote the story for the film with Butler Handcock), Dark Night Of The Scarecrow moves along well enough and has one or two great set-pieces but the real plus point for the movie is how dark the undercurrents are. The treatment of Bubba and the lynch-mob mentality is disturbing enough but things get even more uncomfortable as the mental state of Otis P. Hazelrigg becomes clearer.

The acting from all concerned is very good. Larry Drake doesn't have a lot of screentime but is memorable in his role. Charles Durning is a highlight, but he's matched by Robert F. Lyons, Claude Earl Jones and Lane Smith - each and every one a coward only acting brave as a gun-toting posse. Jocelyn Brando also does well as Bubba's loving mother and Tonya Crowe acquits herself capably.

It's not full of blood and guts, instead presenting itself as one of the many horror movies proving that you don't need gore to please fans of the genre. The atmosphere is nice and spooky at times and the final few minutes are great but, overall, the movie is a solid one as opposed to any kind of classic.


Fans of the film will be happy to find that this Bluray release is region-free - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Night-Scarecrow-Blu-ray-Import/dp/B005CSYQ5U/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1351589437&sr=8-3

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