After a band of ex-military criminals pulls off a multi-million dollar heist, they hop aboard a plane headed for Mexico. But when one of their own betrays them, they suddenly find themselves on the ground and on the run through a field of scarecrows near an abandoned farmhouse. And as night sets in, the real nightmare begins. The men discover that there's a reason the farmhouse is empty... and now those who thought they were the hunters are being hunted by an unimaginable and malevolent force!
The 1988 Action/Horror hybrid, SCARECROWS, begins as a group of soldiers rob payroll office of a military base. Completing the multi-million dollar heist, the ex military group hijacks a twin engine plane owned by Al, and his daughter Kellie. Now with the cash, the plane's destination is Mexico, where they hope to get away clean. However, when one of the robbers double crosses his crew, taking the loot and parachuting down, plans take a drastic turn. Eventually they find themselves making their way through a cornfield that is surrounded by a bunch of eerie scarecrows, and also on the property, is an old, rundown farmhouse. Now empty, it appears to have been once owned by a family by the name of "Fowler". Now on the trail of the money, and the soldier who took it("Burt"), the others, who are being led by one of the ex-soldiers named "Curry", do their best to corner him. However, little do they know that, while he was attempting to hide the loot, the ever-paranoid Burt, has already been killed in a violent way. It is at this point that things become a little strange. Because later, when the four robbers, as well as their captives are holed up in the old shack, while seeking refuge - Burt shows up unexpectedly. But he is not quite himself. In an undead state, it appears that he has been sewed together and stuffed with both hay....and the money. Initially, Curry and the crew do not know what to make of it. But it is when each of them begin to fall one by one, that they realize that somehow the scarecrows that surround the place are alive - seemingly powered by some sort of supernatural force. And the kicker is, that when one killed by the "family" of scarecrows - they are soon resurrected....as one of their own!
This has happened a number of times during my tenure of reviewing releases for SCREAM! FACTORY, and here it has happened once again. The fact that, they have once again released another film, that I, for whatever reason, had never got around to seeing, until now. Released in 1988, SCARECROWS is a film that, over the years, has gained a cult following. It's a film that for awhile, had no DVD release, that is until 2007, when the film was released around the same time as another cult Horror film, THE BURNING. And while I was able to review that initial DVD release of the former film, at the time, I was unable to secure a review copy of SCARECROWS. Because of that, and the fact that I do stay busy reviewing other films. I just never saw it. However, fortunately due to this release, which just so happens to be another quality outing by SHOUT!/SCREAM!, I was finally able to see what the film is all about and ultimately offer my opinion on it.
Shot in Davie Florida in the late '80s by a cast and crew, whom were all basically just starting out, SCARECROWS has a brand of atmosphere, awareness, and effectiveness that would on the other hand, hint otherwise to its onlooking audience. Although almost everyone(including the film's Director William Wesley) was new at the time, the film, at times packs the punch of it's most experienced predecessors. The film initially builds a level of atmosphere, which leaves the characters clouded in a sense of paranoia, one that feels very authentic to the viewer. As the film moves along, the script also blends the film's gritty "action movie" feel, with the color, gore and imagination of the Horror film. The end result is a cocktail that is imaginative, and somewhat funny(whether it is intended to be or not). For me, this combination works in SCARECROWS' favor for the most part. Albeit not perfectly, but it makes for a fun film.
Seeing as this was the first effort for most of the crew, one has to admire the work that they all were able to do here. And this is especially true when mentioning the film's Special Effects artist Norman Cabrera. At only 18, and a complete novice at the time of his hiring by Wesley, he has since went on to work with the recently retired Rick Baker. But it is his work here, that really says something. Although on a smaller budget, the crew were able to achieve something that other "scarecrow projects" at the time, such as the great TV movie, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW couldn't. And that is, that they were able to truly bring a scarecrow to life. From their appearance, to the way in which they moved on screen, coupled with effective closeup shots of the gore which they inflict, it is these things which make the scarecrows in the film, characters of their own.
In the end, SCARECROWS is a film, that I feel, isn't always consistent in it's spooks, but with all things considered, it's fun. The atmosphere, gore, and it's story progression in general, together make the film pretty entertaining.
For this release, SCREAM! FACTORY has paired their new HD transfer of SCARECROWS with 2 new featurettes, as well as original storyboards, a still gallery, and the film's Theatrical trailer.
The 2 featurettes are as follows :
"The Last Straw" with FX Artist Norman Cabrera : (16m 35s) : Here, the film's Special Effects Artist, Norman Cabrera recalls the making of SCARECROWS. From being hired, to what it was like onset, and the lasting effect that the film has had on his career. Also mentioned is of course, his work with Rick Baker, and his transition from small to big budget films.
"Cornfield Commando" with Actor Ted Vernon : (8m 46s) : In this interview, Actor Ted Vernon("Corbin"), explains that he has done a lot of things in his life. He has been a car dealer, a professional boxer, a professional wrestler, a producer, and an actor. He explains how his being cast in SCARECROWS came about, what it was like filming in his home state of Florida, and what the film means to him today.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
While not a perfect film, the film both begins and ends making a big impression on the viewer. I really enjoyed the richly dark tone that the film takes initially during the plot buildup, along with its gritty nature. It's Guerrilla filmmaking with Horror applied. As for this particular release of the film. SCREAM! FACTORY gives us yet another release that both looks and sounds good. Whether you are a long time fan of the film, or if you will be seeing it for the first time,SCARECROWS is worth the view.
Special Features include :
- New Audio Commentary With Co-screenwriter Richard Jefferies, Director Of Photography Peter Deming And Composer Terry Plumeri
- Audio Commentary With Director William Wesley And Producer Cami Winikoff
- The Last Straw An Interview With Special Make-Up Effects Creator Norman Cabrera
- Cornfield Commando An Interview With Actor Ted Vernon
- Original Storyboards
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer