Oct. 9th: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

dark-night-of-the-scarecrow-1981Towing the line back toward the straight and narrow horror for night #9, The Shindig presents Dark Night of the Scarecrow.

Though in fact a made-for-TV movie, Dark Night of the Scarecrow packs more creeps than you average latter day Hollywood effort, and is responsible for the entire “killer scarecrow” sub-genre, for whatever that’s worth

Originally broadcast by CBS on October 24th back in 1981, this fan favorite has become a holiday staple, and with good cause. It’s genuinely creepy, suspenseful and well paced, if a little heavy handed at times. It also features solid performance’s for some fine actors including Charles Durning (Dog Day Afternoon, The Fury, When a Stranger Calls) Lane Smith (the prosecutor from My Cousin Vinny), and a brief appearance from Larry “Dr. Giggles” Drake.

The story concerns a Southern imbecile named Bubba Ritter (Drake) whom the small-town townsfolk don’t much cotton to, particularly because of his unnaturally close relationships with the children.

One afternoon, while playing with the young Marylee, she is mauled by a guard dog. When Budda carries the little girl’s corpse back to her parents home, the shit hits the fan. A posse of angry hicks roll hard on Bubba’s homestead demanding blood. Fortunately, Bubba’s mother has already stashed him away in a field, disguised as a scarecrow.

Unfortunately, neither the posse, nor their bloodhounds are fooled, and they proceed to unload their leaden vengeance into the prone body of the frightened Bubba.

Turns out, Marylee wasn’t actually dead though. She was just unconscious, and (thanks to Bubba) was able to get the medical attention to save her life. Looks like a couple of dumb hayseeds feel a little sheepish now. No matter, they’ll just justify their shitty behavior by concocting some yarn about how Bubba was attempting to attack them with a pitchfork.

And whaddya know, it works. Not guilty, and the vigilantes walk free.

Or do they? This is a horror movie, now, and revenge is always just around the corner,…particularly if that corner is a grave.

Soon, a scarecrow, not unlike Bubba is mysteriously appearing, and the posse are mysteriously dying, one by one.

Sure, it’s not terribly gory, but a horror film never needed to be gory to be good. What commences is a spooky and effective supernatural revenge tale that’s sure to make any October night feel right.

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