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Dark Night of the Scarecrow!
by: -RoG-

...CONTINUED

Later that night, the kids are all enjoying a chaperoned Halloween costume party complete with apple bobbing, hide-and-go-seek games and spiked punch bowls. Oh yeah, and a pervert named Otis who's interested in Marylee as he appropriately pops out from behind a skull decoration. Be he's not here for puppy love, Otis is questioning her about Mrs. Ritter and whether or not she's behind all this.

The girl stares coldly back at him says, "I know what you did to Bubba and you lied about him. He told me everything." Otis gets angry right away and asks Marylee if Mrs. Ritter told her to say that. She shakes her head and repeats that Bubba told her that. "No he didn't. Bubba didn't tell you anything. Bubba's dead!"

She then stares back at him coldly, says "I know" and then runs away. At this point, we the viewers still haven't actually seen any proof of Bubba coming back to life as a killer scarecrow, just some eerie coincidences. Hooray for continually building suspense as opposed to blowing your load in the first 5 minutes!

Philby eventually meets up with Otis and tells him about the scarecrow and that if he doesn't put an end to all of this soon, he's gonna go tell the police what they all did to Bubba. Still suspecting that old Mrs. Ritter is somehow behind all of this, Otis goes to pay her a visit. He sneaks up behind her and covers her mouth in an attempt to scare her into leaving his friends alone. "I'm warning you for the last time, stop it! I know it was you! I'm not gonna let you panic those men." Too bad for Otis, she ends up having a heart attack and kicks the proverbial bucket. Otis stumbles away in a panic and he's just about to leave the house when the tea kettle goes off.

Granted a tea kettle can be a bit startling, but I'll be damned if Otis doesn't look completely horrified by it to the extent that his hair is actually standing up taller and his eyes are nearly popping out of his head. It's here that he gets the idea to leave the gas stove on so that the fireplace will ignite it and cause the house to explode, completely covering up what he did in the process.

So Otis has now effectively wiped out the Ritter clan.......................... or has he?

Back at Philby's place that same night, the pigs in the pigpen are going hog wild over something that's disturbing them. Philby goes to check it out and then thinks he sees somebody going inside his house and turning the lights off. Not wanting to find out who it is, he tries to hop in his car and speed away. Typically, like we've seen in countless classic horror movies, the car just won't start even when he checks the engine, and that's when he hears it... the rustling of hay. He freaks out and runs over to a nearby grain silo and seals himself inside it figuring whoever (or whatever, muahaha?) is out there won't be able to get to him in there. Oh how wrong he was.

He apparently turned the lock a little too tight so not only can nobody get inside, but he can't get out either. All of a sudden, the conveyer belt that transports the grain into the silo gets turned on and it's time to feed ol' Philby!

Well, he may have been a big ol' boy, but I guess even he could stomach that much grains. It's admittedly a bit silly since he could easily stand to the side of where the grains are dropping in order to stay on top of them as opposed to be being buried alive, but this is a horror movie folks. You've gotta be able to suspend your disbelief a little bit here 'n there. So yeah, the last we see of ol' Philby is his body buried beneath the grains in the silo while his arm flails about. And once he's dead, the machine shuts off on its own... still no sign of the actual scarecrow.

With a grim look on his face, Otis goes to tell Skeeter, the only pal he's got left, that Philby had an accident in the bottom of a silo which gave him a heart attack. Not surprisingly, Skeeter doesn't take the news very well and becomes hysterical with fear as Otis tells him that he's now convinced it really IS Bubba. He believes Bubba isn't dead and wants to go dig up his grave tonight to prove it. Skeeter calms down briefly and agrees.

So that night they head on over to Bubba's fresh grave to see if he's still in his coffin or not. Sure enough, it's an empty coffin and Skeeter goes into berserker mode again, yelling and screaming about how they need to get out of town. Otis, on the other hand, now believes it's Marylee who's been killing them off one by one. Yes, Otis, you're right. That little girl has been systematically killing off your friends. Good thinking!

Before Otis goes off to track down Marylee, he decides to whack ol' Skeeter in the head with a shovel to make sure he doesn't panic and go to the cops. Eh, just as well... if Otis didn't kill him, Marylee would've right? Gotta love how they made Skeeter's stylish polka-dot hat stick to the shovel there too, definitely a nice touch.

Having just murdered his only remaining chum, Otis decides to make friends with somebody else... booze. Naturally, this causes him to drive his mail jeep right off the road and crash it into a tree when he sees Marylee.

On a side note, have you noticed that Otis basically NEVER wears any other clothes in the entire movie except for his postal worker uniform? I don't think this guy would wear clothes if he didn't have that job.

Well anyway, Marylee runs out into a field (filled with pumpkins to create that extra spooky atmosphere) and hides in front of a tractor. Even in his inebriated state, it doesn't take Otis McPervo long to find her. He chases her down and starts yelling, "It was you! Admit it! It was you!" while she screams out for Bubba to rescue her. Just then, the lights of the tractor turn on and it slowly starts moving towards Otis.

And this is when the fear really hits him. He knows he's been caught, but by who, and more importantly, what are they going to do to him? Are they going to take him to the police so he can spend the rest of his days in prison? No, no, no... didn't we learn anything from the wise words of Mrs. Ritter yet? There are other justices in this world!

As Otis runs away, he's now deduced that it's Sam the D.A. chasing him down in the tractor. Good ol' Otis, he's a master of logic, that one. During this chase sequence we get some nice shots of the tractor equipment running over the pumpkins as if they were soft as marshmallows. Naturally, this leads us to assume that Otis is going to have a similar fate... and I guess that's why this next moment was so surprising at the time:

With all his attention focused on the tractor that's chasing behind him, Otis fails to notice the scarecrow standing right in front of him until he runs directly into it.

Yep... Otis just impaled himself on the scarecrow's pitchfork. Definitely didn't see that one coming when I first watched this movie. This, I might add, is also the first time we actually get to see the scarecrow at the scene of a murder.

Otis can only tremble and point at the scarecrow in complete and utter shock as he drops to his knees and dies. The scarecrow doesn't even move a muscle, and all we're treated to is a silent zoom-out from above of the grim scene as the lights on the tractor shut off.

Next we hear some hay rustling on the ground, almost like footsteps, and we see little Marylee crouched near a pumpkin. She looks up and sees...


Bubba the scarecrow... HE LIVES!

This is the one and only time we actually see Bubba the scarecrow move at all. He still says nothing, and that only makes his mystique all the more awesome. I love that they waited until the very end of the movie to do this. Honestly, it's damned creepy at first and to this day I don't think a scarecrow on film has looked more intimidating. He's tall, completely silent and his mouth and eye sockets are simply black and hollow. It's definitely one of those visuals that produced quite a few chills back in the day. But those chills are quickly met with an act of kindness:

Much to her delight, Bubba the scarecrow turns to hand her one of those same flowers that she made a lei for him with at the start of the film. The story then ends on this final shot as we hear the girl talking to Bubba about how she's going to teach him a new game called "the chasing game" tomorrow. I dunno Marylee, I'm pretty damned sure that he's already mastered the chasing game, don't ya think?

And that, my ghoulish gang, is Dark Night of the Scarecrow in a nutshell... or a corn husk. It's pretty surprising that most people don't even remember this movie when you consider how many awful "scarecrow" themed horror movies there are out there these days - "Scarecrow Gone Wild" being the worst of 'em in my opinion. You would think this one would stand out in the ol' memory banks of horror fanatics. Sadly, Dark Night of the Scarecrow was never released on DVD, but you can still find really old VHS copies floating around here 'n there. And trust me when I say that it's worth hunting down. This is one film that should be a part of everybody's horror collection, not just because it's a great story, but because it reminds you of a time when made-for-TV horror movies were something you could actually look forward to seeing.

UPDATE 4/29/10: Good news everybody! The writer of Dark Night of the Scarecrow, JD Feigelson, has just informed me that come September 28th, 2010, the movie is finally being released on DVD for the first-time ever and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Be sure to pick up a copy to show your support this long lost horror gem. BUBBA DIDN'T DO IT!

Have any questions or comments about this piece?
Email -RoG-


See the scene where Bubba the Scarecrow is wrongfully executed:


http://www.youtube.com/imockery
 

If you enjoyed this piece be sure to check out:


The Video Dead!

and


Scarecrow Gone Wild!

and


The Monster Squad!


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