Sunday, November 7, 2010

Scarecrows

If you haven’t guessed it already I will be briefly talking about scarecrows and more specifically a 1988 horror film of the same name. Scarecrows is exactly what the film is about… a bunch of scarecrows violently attack a group of military mercenaries after they followed one of their teammates who stole their stolen money. With that aside, the main stars of this film are the straw stuffed demons that run around the field killing and turning the dead bodies into walking scarecrows. I’ve said it before to my friends and I’ll say it here: scarecrows freak me out. They always have.

Though my obsession and slight fear of scarecrows didn’t just start recently. If you want to get technical, ever since I read the Goosebumps book The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight I was hooked on the notion of living scarecrows. When the TV episode came out, that’s when got spooked by them. They were scary human-like objects to begin with but to see them attack people, unable to be stopped, sort of sent me over the edge. Their appearance always fascinated me; something about being hung up on a cross, head down, left in a field was somewhat terrifying but also esoteric. That scene in the Goosebumps episode where one of the kids looks outside only to see the scarecrows, in a row, hanging by the cross was one of the most frightening scenes in the episode.

Perhaps one of the greatest effects that these farmland decoys had on me was from the Batman comics. I’m sure, with the recent success of Batman Begins, we’re all familiar with who The Scarecrow is. I was an avid Batman comic reader and after seeing what John Crane could do, while in his Scarecrow outfit, I was sort of obsessed with his character. The idea of using hallucinogens to frightening and torture people was devious and… well, frightening. To me he was worse than the Joker in some cases. However, the scarecrow moniker would be further altered when I saw the Batman TV show, at least the new one after the revamping.

Up until then Scarecrow was just what he was, a guy in a scarecrow outfit but when the series took a turn… they made the Scarecrow look like a walking corpse. His face, hidden behind a mask that looked like it was made out of dead skin. Those beady white eyes and that crooked smile. He looked like he was the walking dead, literally. The noose around his neck gave him the persona that he was cut down from the hanging pole and let free on society. Accompany that with dark, tattered, Southwestern preacher clothes and you have a person that can easily fit in any horror movie slasher. When the feature film came out, it was such a great interpretation of the Scarecrow that I felt they didn’t use him to his full potential. They retained that Scarecrow look but still managed to make him appear ‘dead.’

With all that being said, the 1988 horror movie Scarecrows was what I wanted to see from a scarecrow themed horror film. Now, I know there are several movies out there where the scarecrows are the villains but they are all half-ass or it’s just some guy in a mask. This one is about scarecrows that come to life. If I saw this film when I was younger, I think I would have been scarred for life. Essentially what it’s doing is bringing my childhood fear into a film where they go around killing people rather than spooking them… than cutting those people open and stuffing their chest cavities with straw/money. Trust me, I would have been scared to attend my family’s reunions because they usually are in the farming countries.

What separated these scarecrows from most is that they looked like real scarecrows that came to life. They had human characteristics, they looked liked dead people that were crucified and you only see quick flashes of their demonic faces. Unlike most movies (Hallowed Ground, Scare Crow, Scare Crow Gone Wild I’m looking at you), these ones didn’t look like they belonged in ICP. They walked around slow, like zombies, they had tattered clothes, like zombies and when they got pissed they revealed what they really look like. Even better, not all the scarecrows were alive… some just stayed on their cross. There was a certain presence about them.

I’m well aware there are other scarecrow movies like Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Night of the Scarecrow, Jeepers Creepers 1 and 2, and Sleepy Hollow but they all have one thing in common: they only use the scarecrow symbol briefly. 1988’s Scarecrows is the perfect movie for anybody who is looking for scarecrows on a rampage. It’s times like these where I wish I saw this movie as a kid. It would have been a childhood classic. Who am I kidding? It’s a classic to me, despite the fact that I didn’t watch it until later on.

6 comments:

Emily said...

Nice. This was one of those perennial VHS rentals that I used to love as a kid. I think it holds up surprisingly well. Some of the performances are messy, but the actual design of the scarecrows is horrifying and that first scene with the stuffed man is weirdly unnerving.

Tommy Salami said...

I loved Dark Night of the Scarecrow as a kid, I'll have to seek this one out.

Mr. Johnny Sandman said...

Emily: Even more unnerving is that they stuffed his chest and body full of money. What a great twist!

Essay said...

Woooooooh!!! SO scary! So mysterious...

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

When I saw this last year, I was impressed by the sinister atmosphere the filmmakers were able to create even with such an obviously limited budget. I went as far as to call the movie "overrated"--drawing the skepticism of a friend who says he saw nothing but a half-baked plot and ho-hum gore. =S

But I still think Scarecrows made a good showing, thanks in great part to the scene when they find out someone has been stuffed with money! That was really creative--and it had a nice moral, which I think every good Horror movie has.

Urhines Kendall said...

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