I like to think I know my straw when it comes to scarecrow horror movies. I’ve seen Scarecrow, Scarecrows and even Night of the Scarecrow but I must admit I haven’t seen the one that precedes them all, the classic 1981 TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow.
What is it about scarecrows that we apparently find so frightening? They certainly scare crows (hence the name), presumably because they look like people, and birds are jittery when it comes to people. But we aren’t scared of people – at least, not ones who wear dungarees, hang around in cornfields, and never move. Perhaps scarecrows unnerve us for the exact opposite reason: they don’t quite look like people. They’re a little off. A little wrong. But still a little too lifelike in their lifelessness.
1988’s Scarecrows is certainly quite scary. It’s an eerie slasher-cum-ghost story with some truly nightmarish moments, and it beats the weather-beaten pants off the later, more conventional slasher, Scarecrow. On the other hand, Night of the Scarecrow is a cheerfully innocuous possessed-scarecrow outing from 1995, which reminded me a little of Pumpkinhead, only with a far less intimidating monster. In fact, it’s this film that seems most closely inspired by Dark Night of the Scarecrow, both in its plot and title. I can’t wait to find out for sure when the latter gets its promised special-edition DVD release from Image Entertainment next year.