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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New on Video: Hay-Stuffed Horrors in Scarecrows

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 4:00 PM

click to enlarge sc_26_scarecrows.jpg

I've never been to Florida, but I'm forever fascinated by their film industry. It's where Herschell Gordon Lewis shot most of his classics, like Blood Feast and Color Me Blood Red, and where Jerry Lewis's career went to die with Hardly Working. Or, more accurately, where it rose from the dead after a decade, and was put back down swiftly enough. Movies made in Florida just have a certain unmistakable quality to them, perhaps because nobody shoots in Florida if they can afford to shoot elsewhere, and it's a vibe that would be impossible to miss even if it was set in a single room. And William Wesley's 1988 horror flick Scarecrows, which Shout! Factory is releasing on Blu-Ray on June 2, has that Florida feeling in spades.

By the way, the single most Florida-riffic movie ever made is Doris Wishman's 1961's Nude on the Moon. Let's enjoy it now before we continue on with Scarecrows! (NSFW due to Kennedy-era toplessness, but whatevs.)

Anyway, the premise of Scarecrows writes itself: evil scarecrows kill people. Whaddaya need, a roadmap?

It's a decently shot, micro-budgeted horror movie with impressive gore effects by a teenaged Norman Cabrera, and cinematography by Peter Deming, who would go on to lens Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr., and The Cabin in the Woods. According to Cabrera in an interview, it was specifically filmed in Davie, Florida near the Everglades, in a mosquito-infested swamp near the charmingly-named Alligator Alley.

Meanwhile, in the commentary, the amiable director Wisher discusses, among other things, how he went to the UCLA archive to watch prints of movies like Stagecoach and Rear Window to get a sense of how to shoot a narrative film. John Ford and/or Alfred Hitchcock this ain't, but it's clear that people on both side of the camera were trying to make an entertaining film, and they succeeded, if it's your kinda thing.

Scarecrows has a cult, as most straight-to-video horror films from the late 1980s do (that was the most fertile time for cult-making, I'd argue), but isn't especially well-respected these days. How not especially well-respected? This is what you get when you type it into the IMDB:


Ouch. That's gotta hurt.
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Sherilyn Connelly


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