Dark Night Of The Scarecrow (1981)

There IS other justice besides the law!

Writer: J.D. Feigelson
Director: Frank De Felitta

In Dark Night of the Scarecrow the mentally retarded Bubba (Larry Drake) is wrongly accused of attacking a child. To escape the lynch mob he disguises himself as a scarecrow, but the rednecks find and shoot him. Some time later a mysterious scarecrow is seen around the town and the members of the lynch mob begin to die. Has Bubba returned from beyond the grave or is someone else getting revenge on his behalf?

This is a 1981 TV movie and it shows. The story starts very slowly and once things do get going the killings are unimaginative by today’s standards. The characterisation, both of Bubba and the rednecks, is pure stereotype (although Charles Durning does an excellent job as chief bad guy Otis).

But despite that, the film still has something. Some of the scenes are extremely atmospheric and suspenseful, Frank De Felitta’s direction is quietly effective. The psychological deterioration of the lynch mob is interesting, as is the way the film leaves a question mark over a possible supernatural element.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow isn’t scary, by modern standards it doesn’t really cut it either as a slasher or as a spooky ghost story. But watched as a psychological thriller with possible supernatural elements it works surprisingly well for its age. Yes, the first 30 minutes are tedious but after that it gets a lot better.