Dark Night of the Scarecrow,1981,USA
Director: Frank De Felitta
Stars: Charles Durning,Larry Drake & Jocelyn Brando
'Dark Night of the Scarecrow' is a made for television film that garnered cult status in recent years. The film was one of many cashing in on the slasher phenomenon created by 'Halloween' in 1978. Upon its premiere on TV and still to this day, 'Dark Night of the Scarecrow' has received positive reviews.
A mentally impaired man named Bubba (Larry Drake) shares a friendship with a little girl named Marylee, which unsettles the rest of the rural town. When a horrible accident that see Marylee attacked by a vicious dog, Bubba who gets the blame. Postman and self appointed man of the law Otis P. Hazelrigg (Charles Durning) gathers a gang of vigilantes whom take it upon themselves to hunt down and kill a defenseless Bubba, who was hiding from the gang disguised as a scarecrow. Shortly after the execution it was revealed that Bubba in fact saved the life of Marylee by getting her to medical assistance just in time, Now a mysterious scarecrow roams the town by night, exacting revenge on those who wronged him, but could it possibly be the ghost of Bubba ?
There are a few things that separate this film from other slashers of the time, firstly the fact that its a made for Television film gives this film a certain grungy feel that benefits with a eerie atmosphere. Secondly, the film does not glorify its killer, his physical presence is kept to a minimum, which was very effective in creating suspense, I'm not really sure if it was it was intentional but I certainly appreciated it. The film also has a great sense of ambiguity, which for me is never a bad thing.
The film is very underhanded on the technical levels, Frank De Felitta does a good job directing the film but the script is quite weak and features some ridiculously hilarious dialogue (''Fired Chicken!''), The good thing though is the film does not feature a lot of blood and gore, which was refreshing.
The performances here are surprisingly good, Charles Durning specializes in playing overweight creeps, Larry Drake is very convincing as Bubba, and Jocelyn Brando was fantastic as Mrs Ritter.
Most of the compliments I have given this film have stemmed from the fact that it takes a minimalist approach, I am an avid believer in the ''Less is more'' theory, and the filmmakers here must have been to, I enjoyed 'Dark Night of the Scarecrow', its a fun and creepy film that I would rank among the upper echelon of 80's slasher films.