Reely Bernie Horror Fest: Dark Night of the Scarecrow – 1981

Origin/Director: USA/Frank De Felitta

Viewings Tally: This is my first viewing. A community member on Letterboxd recommended it to me.

Synopsis: Bubba, an intellectually disabled man, is falsely accused of attacking a young girl. Disguised as a scarecrow, he hides in a cornfield, only to be hunted down and shot by four vigilante men. After they are acquitted due to lack of evidence, the men find themselves being stalked by a mysterious scarecrow. [Letterboxd]

Reely Bernie’s Take: It’s the misunderstood Michael Meyers or feared and bullied Jason Voorhees revenge story but in the guise of a scarecrow, which may or may not be the culprit executing paybacks on the numbskull town folk. In a way, it’s a low budget made-for-TV precursor to a much better movie in Pumpkinhead (1988).

In typical 80s B-movie fashion, there’s an over the top synthesizer film score, overacting, and overgrown comb overs that put Trump to shame. However, once you get past the hasty, beyond believable setup, the movie takes on a satisfying Charles Bronson tone you only get from the 80s. Also, it’s a wise move to not show what is not seen by the characters. The imagination fills in the spook void and viewer anticipation like Jaws did in 1975 and Alien did 4 years later.

(Of course, we’re talking about a scarecrow, not a shark or an…alien.)

Charles Durning plays a despicable town mailman who abuses his retirement privileges so he can take advantage of lodging and bacon-filled breakfasts with the certified nursing home guests. It’s a comical an odd touch that keeps this little flick entertaining.

Interestingly, Larry Drake will play an Emmy-winning performance of a very similar developmentally disabled character on the television drama, “L.A. Law” in 1994. Mr. Drake passed away in 2016.

I recommend Dark Night of the Scarecrow to viewers who grew up in the 70s and 80s and can forgive the borderline exploitative premise and cheesy acting. When the 90 minutes flash by, the images of the scarecrow continue to linger, and you won’t look at a scarecrow the same way again.

The Shot that Won’t Let Go:

I admit, it’s not a shot from the movie itself, but when I was a youngster, I would sneak behind the Horror Movie section at the video store and see this VHS tape cover just to get the creeps. The movie is actually more charming than scary!
Of course, this one is pretty chilling…

Final Score: 3 mailman antagonists out of 5

How you seen it? What did you think?

Can you think of another movie in which the mailman is the bad guy? How about one named Otis P. Hazelrigg?

(I wonder what the “P.” stands for.)

5 thoughts on “Reely Bernie Horror Fest: Dark Night of the Scarecrow – 1981

Add yours

  1. Not seen this particular scarecrow movie so thanks for the shout out! Also Larry Drake was such an underrated actor, never saw LA Law but did love him as the bad guy in both Darkman and Dr Giggles. Oh and thanks so much for the follow over at Precinct1313, I’m also a big 80’s horror fan so look forward to more of your posts! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Loved Larry Drake in Darkman (one of my all-time faves)! And, yes, I can read and see your nostalgic passion in Precinct 1313. I look forward to browsing more! This is such a great time to revel in Spielbergian suburbia thrills 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: