Scarecrow Gone Wild (2004)

On a very special episode of Scarecrow Gone Wild our straw-filled serial killer teaches us about the pressing social issues of diabetes, college hazing and most importantly of all, the danger of letting MMA star turned professional wrestler Ken Shamrock anywhere near a movie set!

Watching Shamrock parlay the stilted interview skills he had on the mic in wrestling into even more stilted acting really makes you want to sit your kids down for some straight talk about the importance of not only acting lessons, but not trying things you have absolutely no aptitude for.

Having said that, Coach Shamrock tries to do the right thing when he catches the upperclassman on his baseball team abusing the younger players when he tells them hazing is not allowed! He even makes star player Jack give his solemn word that there will be no more hazing!

And Jack is totally living up to his word when accepts the rest of the team’s assurances that they are just going down to the beach for an innocent fun time of volleyball and sunbathing! How was he to know that while he was back home banging his girlfriend, the team would make a pit stop to torture diabetic Sam at the old scarecrow altar set up in the middle of the old cornfield right next to the beach? That information was no where to be found is his girlfreind’s panties!

While the upperclassman head to the beach party, they send the new guys back to check on Sam who was left at the altar. (Why there is a giant altar made of hay bales in the middle of the cornfield is never made clear beyond the obvious “it looks cool” reason we assume it’s really only there for.)

Sam is in his diabetic coma, but the scarecrow that was up there with him is gone! Gone killing the underclassman! By the time Jack gives his easy girlfriend a break, checks his messages and comes to the cornfield to rescue Sam, Scarecrow is nowhere to found.

Jack takes Sam to the nearby trauma center that’s still under construction where his girlfriend’s ex-brother-in-law doctor desperately tries to save him! (In addition to lots of socially aware messages, the film is also festooned with needless details like that these that go absolutely nowhere.)

But if Sam isn’t dead yet, how can Scarecrow be up and around disemboweling college bullies? Doesn’t he require some kind of soul transfer from a dead kid who wants revenge for his death? Have you forgotten? This isn’t just Scarecrow! This is Scarecrow Gone Wild!

He doesn’t need some nerd to die to get his powers! He can borrow a comatose dweeb’s consciousness! And he now comes equipped with a cheesy Hunger Games-esque whistling sound that announces his impending arrival! He also seems to be a lot less athletic, adopting a lumbering monster gait instead of his trademark flips and spinning kicks. But he finally learned how to drive a car and ran over a girl which is a nice trade off.

Scarecrow attacks the beach party, which visually is as funny as if the Creature from the Black Lagoon ever ran amok in a cornfield. While fleeing Scarecrow though they run into Coach Shamrock who tells all about Scarecrow. How does he know? Years ago, he was involved in the original hazing incident that killed a kid and first unleashed Scarecrow (this movie has nothing to do with Scarecrow or Scarecrow Slayer) and that nothing can stop him! Then he and Scarecrow begin to fight!

I was legit excited as I thought that surely a Shamrock vs Scarecrow match would at least match the Scarecrow vs Bogus Scarecrow match that finished Scarecrow Slayer. But the whole thing was sluggish and too brief, as if Scarecrow 2.0 had put on too much bulk from previous incarnations and lost his creativity and explosiveness in the ring.

At the trauma center, everyone figures out that if they can just bring Sam out of his coma, that Scarecrow will become lifeless again. Once out of his coma, the survivors reunite a few weeks later where Coach announces he survived his fight with Scarecrow because even though he was in a rundown, the other team bobbled the ball. Wow! I totally believe you are a baseball coach, Shamrock! You hit it out of the park with that one! Glad to know you didn’t have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice bunt! We thought you were dead, but knew that even if you were, you went down swinging!

Alls well that ends well though as Coach says he’s got a new job as a coach for a minor league team which is good since almost his entire college team was just murdered. Sam is a campus celebrity and Jack and his old lady are just as in love as ever! But this old lame Scarecrow Gone Wild 2.0 is about to go 3.0 all over everyone!

Sam is now possessed by Scarecrow and even comes equipped with powers that allow him shock people with electrical currents! But all that is so much 3.0 lameness because Sam upgrades it to 4.0 and reverses the charges and takes Scarecrow inside of him so that he can kill himself and save everyone else.

This last part of the film feels like a combination of needing to extend the running time of the movie and just making up stuff as they went along. As much as the coma powered beach blanket bingo Scarecrow doesn’t work, the possessed lightning bolt shooting kid works even less well.

If somehow the angry soul of a victim powers the scarecrow, once the soul is back inside the victim, what exactly is there from the scarecrow to inhabit that person? And why can he shock everyone when even the scarecrow never could do that? And how can Sam willingly take on the spirit of the scarecrow and then still have control enough to kill himself? What doesn’t the scarecrow spirit jump back into Sam then?  These are questions any four year old watching would ask!

While it has superior production values to the original (but what film that’s even been publicly released hasn’t?), Scarecrow Gone Wild is a total step backward from what by default is the series pinnacle, Scarecrow Slayer.

The story doesn’t make any effort to keep what made this particular scarecrow entertaining (his strange martial arts abilities and being reanimated by dead people’s souls) and fails utterly in its efforts to expand his powers in a fashion that makes any sense within the confines of the story. Even worse, they redid Scarecrow’s look taking away his creepy rotted skull-style mask and replacing it with some prefab latex thing that covers his shoulders and looks like it was bought at a costume shop.

Repeating the “prank/hazing gone wrong” storyline from the previous movie is lazy and substituting meathead baseball players for meathead ROTC guys wasn’t interesting at all and only served to deprive this movie the opportunity to use a bazooka. And the less said about swapping out horror icon Tony Todd for Ken Shamrock as the “name” actor, the better.

In a series of films where a promising monster is constantly let down by his handlers, this final entry is only not a bigger let down because of the impossibly low standards set by the first film. But at least now I know what insulin shock is.

© 2019 MonsterHunter

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