Night of the Scarecrow (1995)

23% – Critics
23% – Audience

Night of the Scarecrow Storyline

Claire Goodman returns to her hometown Hanford to visit her estranged father, Major Frank Goodman, and her family. She befriends the constructor Dillon that works for her father, and invites him to have dinner with her family. Dillon has fired the rebel Danny along the day, and during the night, the completely drunken Danny decides to seek revenge and drive a tractor with a friend through the cornfield. However, he stumbles upon a stone and breaks it, unleashing a force that uses the nearby scarecrow as a body. Soon, the scarecrow looks for members of the Goodman family to kill them. Claire and Danny are dating and they lean that one hundred years ago, a warlock promised to turn the useless land into a fertile and productive land. However, he was betrayed by an ancestor of the Goodman family and buried in the cornfield. Now his spirit is seeking revenge and looking for his book of spells to return to the human form.—Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Night of the Scarecrow Photos

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Night of the Scarecrow Movie Reviews

Cheesy entertainment.

This minor but amusing shocker may get confused with another movie that bears a similar premise, with a similar name: the 1981 TV horror story ‘Dark Night of the Scarecrow’. This can boast some atmosphere, and a fair bit of style (courtesy under-rated genre director Jeff Burr (“From a Whisper to a Scream”, “Stepfather II”)), as well as some entertaining effects work. It’s nowhere near as good as its almost-namesake, but at least it doesn’t appear to be taking itself too seriously. It also gives some enjoyable showcase roles to a roster of character actors.

Super sexy Claire (Elizabeth Barondes) returns home to the small California town where her dad William (Gary Lockwood) is the mayor. She’s just in time, too: soon after she gets there drunken youngster Danny (John Hawkes of ‘Deadwood’ and “Winter’s Bone”) desecrates the resting place of a spirit that then proceeds to inhabit the body of a scarecrow; said scarecrow goes about slaughtering the descendants of the man who attempted to put the spirit to rest. Claire teams up with hunky local Dillon (John Mese) to fight the rampaging scarecrow.

The good thing is that “Night of the Scarecrow” isn’t boring. Burr keeps it lively and makes sure that it never stops moving. The monster itself, played by Howard Swain, inspires no fright at all, and in fact all scenes with it come off as silly. The special effects, a mixture of mechanical, makeup, and digital work, are generally pretty good, and it is fun to see characters suffer a variety of truly nasty and imaginative fates. These are the kinds of things one simply has to laugh at. Impressive camera-work and good spooky music by Jim Manzie help to keep this watchable.

The actors do their best at selling this standard material. Barondes is very easy on the eyes, which doesn’t hurt at all. Bruce Glover (“Walking Tall”, “Chinatown”) gets an opportunity to tear into the scenery as the local minister – the type of minister who peruses risqué photos when alone in his church, Stephen Root (“Office Space”, ‘NewsRadio’) is fine as the sheriff, Dirk Blocker (“Poltergeist”, “Prince of Darkness”) appears as a farmer, and Lockwood (“2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Firecreek”) is amusing as the mayor. Cult actress Martine Beswick plays Glovers’ wife, and Duane Whitaker and Joe Unger are Roots’ deputies.

A decent if unremarkable viewing for the horror fanatic, “Night of the Scarecrow” does begin and end with a flourish. One could do worse.

Seven out of 10.

Overlooked Slasher Film, Better Than You Would Expect

A group of drunk teenagers accidentally set free the spirit of a warlock, which possesses a scarecrow and terrorizes the small farming community of Hanford.

Mike Mayo says the film “is nicely photographed with a few bloody good touches”. I think this is pretty spot on. The movie really does look pretty sharp, particularly for an independent film, and the gore is respectable. Any horror fan should eat it right up. The special effects, for the most part, were above and beyond what you might expect.

Lead actress Elizabeth Barondes was likable. I do not recall ever seeing her in anything else (although she did the remake of “Not of This Earth” the same year), but she deserved to be a bigger star. Apparently too late now, as she has moved on to become an interior designer. The rest of the cast is good, too, and fans of “Dodgeball” or “Office Space” will appreciate Stephen Root in the role of a sheriff.

Of particular interest to me was the “orgy” scene. Filmed in crisp sepia, with plenty of throbbing and corpulent flesh. These are not all beautiful people, but they are animalistic, and I think director Jeff Burr really did himself a favor by including this scene, pushing the boundaries of the film just a bit further.

Burr, in general, deserves respect. Sadly, this film is probably overshadowed by the similarly named “Dark Night of the Scarecrow”. But they are both good films and have their own sensibilities. This one is much darker, much more gory. Burr’s career is one horror sequel after another, which he does fine at, but his best work shines through in his original pieces like this one and “From a Whisper to a Scream”.

As of 2012, Olive Films has finally released this movie on to DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time. I have not seen their version, but I hope it is cleaned up nice and has a special feature or two. The Netflix streaming version is full frame and somewhat fuzzy, suggesting a VHS transfer. I know this film does not have the fan following of other mid-1990s horror films, but perhaps with the Netflix exposure more people will push the right people to give this film a decent release.

Pure 90’s gold

This film is long lost treasure for horror scavengers. Its often labeled as “supernatural horror”, but its true strength is in the slashing scenes. The story of the small town with a curse wouldn’t be as engaging without the fantastic slasher edge. The kill scenes look like they are straight out of classic Italian horror: amazing gore effects done without computers. The kills are innovative and realistic looking, including some Saw-worthy torture sequences. The plot is hardly original but it turns out to be just sufficient enough. If you somehow combined Maniac, Children of the Corn, and Pumpkinhead into one movie, it would come out something like Night of the Scarecrow.