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.
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!"
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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!
any questions or comments about this piece?
scene where Bubba the Scarecrow is wrongfully executed: