Thursday, December 01, 2005
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Erroneously believing that “Bubba”, a mentally challenged adult, has murdered a young girl, 4 men take it upon themselves to rid their tiny town of this perceived menace. After violently assassinating Bubba, the four men go to court but are acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Soon after, the men begin seeing a freaky-looking scarecrow appearing in their pastures and then things begin to get weird. As Bubba’s mother says, “there are other forms of justice on this earth”.
Back in the 70s and early 80s when there were only 3 television channels (4 if you counted PBS [boo!] or a half dozen if you counted UHF [better!]), you didn’t have a lot of viewing options. For me, one salient aspect of this pre-cable television era, or as I call it, “the Medieval times”, is that the “Movie of the Week” often consisted of dark, twisted horror tales that scared the crap out of my young, still-developing psyche. Although more often than not my mother forced me to go to bed (e.g., Star Wars Holiday Special!!!) effectively preventing me from ever seeing the endings of these little creepfests, I somehow managed to catch all of Dark Night of the Scarecrow and it’s always stayed with me. Yes the tale is simple and by today’s standards it follows a very predictable paint-by-numbers revenge formula, but damnit, DKOTS still works! With its sinister music, Halloween-ish camera work, and a “less-is-more” mentality, DKOTS remains a prime example of how to make an effective “horror” movie. You just don’t see movies like DKOTS on commercial television anymore.
Go here for a list of all the made-for-tv horror films of the 70s and early 80s.