Wednesday, October 31, 2007

scarecrows (1988)

"Scarecrows" is an odd little film. It's a genre mash-up of action, crime and horror, ambitious but done on a fairly small budget, incredibly goofy but oddly effective. In all, kind of the perfect b-movie experience, and I really dug it. For the longest time, this was an especially hard flick to track down. I think it played theatrically but wasn't very widely released, and the video release was equally minimal. It started showing up on TV a number of years ago, and it's genuine uniqueness earned a bit of a cult reputation. Now, thanks to MGM, one of the kindest of the big studios in regards to relatively obscure genre films, it's out on DVD and readily available to all.

Admittedly, I had a friend over while watching this, and was a bit distracted by her witty banter (and twinkling eyes), but I think that's cool, I don't know if "Scarecrows" would really benefit from close examination, and I don't think that this is a film that even especially wants to be taken too seriously (if they did, they'd probably have made more of an effort to fill in some of the massive plot holes). As it stands, this would have made a pretty great Mystery Science Theatre 3000 movie, in the sense that most of the best episodes of that show were generally based around a movie that was actually kind of good (ok, that's not totally true, but enough of them were [or at least were based around movies that I liked even without the commentary] for the concept to stand, or something).

Anyway, the set-up here is that a cadre of well-armed, fairly hi-tech criminals have just pulled off some major cash heist and are making their escape via airplane. For whatever reason they have to land in a corn field somewhere and come upon an old farm house that's oddly surrounded by multiple scarecrows. As far as I could tell, it's never really explained (certainly not in any detail), but the scarecrows come to life and kill off the crooks, turning some of them (or at least some parts of some of them) into new zombie scarecrows. The crooks try to fight back but you can't kill a scarecrow so everybody dies. The end.

This is basically an 80s style stripped down action horror flick ala "Near Dark" or "The Terminator," though not nearly as good as either of those, certainly highly entertaining and aesthetically quite pleasing both in terms of visuals (though everything is very dark) and general styling. It's spooky and violent enough to be a fun horror flick, but goofy and dumb enough to sit around and make fun of with your friends, which is sort of what we wound up doing yesterday afternoon. In the end, I'd have to recommend this one pretty highly, not as a major work of cinema, but as some fun Halloween junk food (like those Marshmallow Peeps shaped like skulls, bats and spiders, I'd have to recommend those too). And even though I started off the review by saying this film didn't call for it, I'll probably go back eventually and give this one a closer look, check out the nuances and whatnot. So either I was wrong a couple of paragraphs ago, or I'm just a fucking liar and you can't trust anything I say. I'll let you be the judge.

Check back later for more Halloween film reviews and comics. No tricks and nothing but treats here at Negative Pleasure this Samhain...

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