Night of the Scarecrow (1995)

Who is the worst Goodman man in the small jerkwater town of Hanford they inhabit? Is it the mayor for not wanting a serious investigation into a murder because he doesn’t want to jeopardize the new mall coming to town? Nah, if you’re getting a food court with both a Great American Cookie Company and an Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, you don’t want some long drawn out “killer on the loose” drama delaying all that deliciousness!

So it’s probably his little brother, the Sheriff, for giving up and arresting the mayor’s daughter’s boyfriend for the murder just to shut up his brother, right? Hardly – Dillion will get himself a public defender appointed and after spending two years in the county jail waiting for trial, he may or may not get acquitted. It’s called due process and is what makes our country great.

Then it has to be their other brother, the town preacher because he spends his down time in his church perusing lingerie catalogs! Are you kidding? They were having a killer sale on lacey black bras!

If you want the biggest fail this loser family ever produced, you actually have to go back a century to when old Silas Goodman was running things. Silas came west looking for a better life and settled in Hanford, but what he got was crappy weather and poor crop yields.

As the town’s spiritual leader, it was up to him to figure out a way to fix things. Naturally, he made a bargain with an evil warlock. In exchange for getting rid of all this pestilence and foul land. All the town had to do was not persecute the warlock. Who could argue with that deal? So some little town has to be progressive and show some religious tolerance toward an outsider? What’s not to like?

Turns out that old Silas didn’t like the orgies the warlock was having with his daughter! Dang dude! Why are you so small minded? I bet when you were enjoying all those big juicy ears of corn, you didn’t worry too much about why your daughter was always walking funny and asking what “pulling a train” meant! You didn’t think some evil warlock made this deal just so he could watch football on Sundays instead of going to your church, did you?

Silas does what any God-fearing man would do under the circumstances and crucifies the warlock and then buries his bones and put a special seal over the burial spot to keep his spirit from leaking out and wreaking havoc. But in one of those “for want of a nail, the kingdom was lost” circumstances you just never see coming, one hundred years later a redneck takes a drunken joyride on a bulldozer and ruptures the stone seal.

The warlock’s spirit is let loose and possesses a nearby scarecrow so that he can kill his way through town until he finds his ancient spell book that can reunite his spirit with his bones and allow him to assume physical form. I don’t know all this because of my vast studies of the occult, but because it’s all puked out (and augmented by silly flashbacks including the orgies) by the modern day panty obsessed preacher. How he knows all this, but isn’t sure where Silas hid the spell book isn’t never explained.

Night of the Scarecrow is one of those movies too busy being bad ass to sweat puny details like that or like when Dillon spills acid on his hands meant for the warlock’s bones and after a moment of scratching is miraculously cured the rest of the movie. Director Jeff Burr easily redeems himself for his Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings debacle by delivering a surprisingly brutal scarecrow who lives up to all our expectations about what a warlock possessed scarecrow should be!

After killing a bird and messing with a guy who pissed on him while he was still hanging up on his scarecrow post, the training wheels come off and he goes a rampage which was gorily glorious. First he invades a van where a gal was making out with her boyfriend and literally implants his seed in her by shoving it down her throat resulting in vines sprouting out of her before she is dragged down into the ground. He then really hits his stride when he sews the preacher’s mouth shut, uses a scythe, forces straw into people and wraps people in his thorny vines.

A decent cast helps keep things on track with the three brothers played by actors who were in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Chinatown and TV’s Newsradio and if the male and female leads aren’t well known, they didn’t get in the way of a good time here either. For his part, the scarecrow benefited from actually looking like a creepy strawman, his single button eye never failing to be quite unsettling.

The climax had the characters behaving somewhat stupidly to maintain suspense (why would Dillon have his girlfriend hold him by the legs as he went down into the warlock’s tomb when it would have made more sense for him to hold her? And when the scarecrow tried to shove his seed down her throat like he did to the earlier girl, he couldn’t get it done because she just refused to open her mouth?), but all is quickly forgiven when he gets destroyed in spectacular fashion, first be being burned up in a gigantic explosion and then blowing up in a million pieces once his bones are crushed by some construction equipment.

All you Psycho Scarecrows, Scarecrow Slayers and especially the Scarecrows Gone Wild are on notice! You better bring a cornfield full of carnage because if you don’t, Night of the Scarecrow will knock the stuffing out of you and leave nothing but an empty burlap sack!

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