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Movie Review: Scarecrows

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Chapter 5: Rescue In Monster Land (part 1)

It has finally come to this. After Zombos was taken prisoner by the vile Shudderites, Iloz Zoc, Glenor Glenda the maid, and Steve Brown, intrepid UPS delivery person and adventurer, set out to rescue him. Traveling in the versatile and well-equipped UPS hyrdraulic-hybrid truck through the 8th dimension, they made their way to Monster Land, the mysterious home of the Shudderites. We now join them as they meticulously plan Zombos' rescue.

"Okay," said Steve Brown, looking through his binoculars. "Zombos is held by the dark power in that tower. The one on the right. We better go at night."

"Wait a minute," said Glenor, looking through her binoculars. "Are you sure he's held by the dark power in the tower on the right? I thought I saw him in the tower on the left, just below that cleft. It's an easier way. We could go by day."

"I'm pretty sure I saw him on the right, in the window at the third height."

"But I swear I see him over there, in the window that is square," she said.

"Which tower door would that be?" said Iloz Zoc, long suffering valet to Zombos, looking through his binoculars.

"The door with the wild boar, holding the vessel with the pestle," said Steve Brown.

"No, it's the door with the olden dragon holding the golden flagon," insisted Glenor.

"All I see is a door with an ogre holding a chalice with malice," said Iloz Zoc.

"No, no, that's the wrong door, it's the one with the wild boar."

"You're both wrong, it's not the door with the boar, but the olden dragon holding the golden flagon."

"Which one's holding the pestle again?" asked Zoc.

"The boar."

"Which door?"

Steve Brown's cell phone rang. Glenor and Zoc looked at him in puzzlement.

"What? It's Verizon," he said. "They've got great coverage. Hello?" He listened to the caller. "I see; he's here, I'll put him on. It's for you — your editor." He handed the phone to Zoc.

"Yes? What's that. Why how rude! I never! Do what you can until I return. What? You didn't! How's One-Eye feeling? Good. The new home for Zombos Closet of Horror Blog is www.zomboscloset.com? Capital! Yes, yes, I will hurry back." Zoc handed the phone back to Steve Brown.

"What's wrong?" asked Glenor.

"Much, while we've been away. Blogger.com created a wretched beta monster that's gone and eaten up a year's worth of Zombos Closet of Horror blogs. We can't get into it anymore to publish new ones. He said their powerless tech support people were surrounded by hordes of irate bloggers and eaten alive, so no help is coming from that quarter. If it wasn't for Blogcritics, there would have been no Zombos Closet reviews for the past week. Lord, what a mess. At least we have a new blog address now.

Then he asked One-Eye Willy to review The Descent, and you know how claustrophobic One-Eye is. One-Eye is recuperating nicely, though. He also just posted an interview with Ethan Dettenmaeir on that Sin-Jin Smyth movie, right on the heels of Brian Corder's interview with the man. Waste of a perfectly good post, that one. He should have gone with the Paris Hilton interview first. People can't stop reading about her, lord knows why. The man's a neophyte. I must get back to the mansion before he causes anymore harm to my faithful readers."

"Oh, dear, how dreadful," gasped Glenor.

"Right, well, we better hurry then. Where were we?" said Steve Brown.

"The door on the right, I think."

"Wait a minute," said Zoc. "I need to get a review to my editor."

"Go ahead, I've got unlimited minutes on weekends." Steve Brown handed back the phone to Zoc.

"Hello? Yes, it's me again. I've got one from the archives that should do. Are you ready? Here it is… what? Yes, yes it has spoilers." said Zoc.

 

Scarecrows is one of those films that, with a little more acting, a little more direction, and a lot more story logic, would have been quite compelling as a horror entry. As it stands, it is still a creepy film that has solid make-up and gore effects, and a premise that sustains the mood of terror in spite of itself. And hey, there are no teenagers getting killed one by one — just dumb adults, so that is a refreshing change of pace.

And the plotline is amazingly similar to Dead Birds, with a precipitating robbery, an abandoned spooky house in the middle of nowhere, and demonic monsters. But just like Dead Birds, the adults are still witless, they run around cluelessly before getting killed one by one, and they ignore the obvious danger.

In Scarecrows, though, we never really find out the supernatural why, which sustains the atmosphere of creepiness. And like clowns, scarecrows can be very creepy; unless they look like Ray Bolger, of course.

Escaping in a hijacked plane with the pilot and his daughter, after a robbery worth millions, a para-military bunch is double-crossed by one of their own; a very nervous guy named Burt. He jumps out of the plane with the big – and heavy – box that holds the money with apparently no plans as to how to move it around once he is on the ground.

Being the dumbest of the bunch, he is murdered first. But not before he happens upon the Fowler residence, nestled snuggly amid lots of really creepy-looking scarecrows, and surrounded by a wooden fence encircled with barbed-wire and lots of warnings to stay away. The weird weathervane on the roof, with the pitchfork and pteradactyl, should have been a warning sign, too.

Annoyingly, we must listen to Burt's thoughts in voiceover, as he walks around and mysteriously comes across the key to the decrepit truck in the yard. Perhaps it's just me, but I really enjoy watching people's lips move on screen, even when they are just thinking out loud. It helps to intensify the action, and gives the actor more to do than just look like what the voiceover is saying.

Burt hoists the box onto the truck and makes his getaway. Sure why not? Decrepit trucks always have lots of gas in them, especially with today's prices, and the battery lying dormant for how long? No problem; batteries spontaneously recharge themselves in horror movies when needed.

Now, I did mention that Burt was the dumbest of the bunch, and here is why (in addition to the above, of course). Wearing night-vision goggles to walk through the foliage and find the house, he takes them off to drive the truck away, and instead, turns on the headlights to see where he is going. Of course, the crooks still in the plane spot the headlights of his truck, and now know where he is headed. Brilliant. He deserves to die. Definitely. I am not sure why he needed night vision goggles in the first place, as every scene is brightly lit, from the interior of the plane, to the nighttime outside scenery, and the house. The cinematographer was either a) myopic, b) just out of school, or c) dealing with really cheap film stock.

Burt meets his demise when the truck dies in the middle of nowhere. Go figure. One very nice touch, and there are, I must admit, a few in the film, is the fact that when he opens the truck's hood (or bonnet for my British readers), there is no engine. Creepy, to be sure.

The story logic fails when dead, now stuffed-like-a-flounder-with-money-and-straw-Burt returns to the house. The rest of the bunch are there, rough him up, then realize that he is indeed dead and was gutted and stuffed like a flounder with money and straw. Dead Burt does manage to put up quite a fight, and grabs one fellow by the mouth, pushing him through a window, causing him to bite off more than he could chew in a gorylicious scene.

At this point, you would think they'd be racing out of the house and back to the plane — but no, they decide to stay and look for the rest of the money. In fact, the whole episode is treated rather matter-of-factly, although one bright bulb in the bunch does argue, "Burt was walking around dead, for chrissakes!"

The stolen money suddenly appears on the grounds outside the house, and the crooks blithely go for the bait. Soon, another one of them, Jack, is dispatched, and again the scene is well done and horrific, involving a dull handsaw and no anethesia. Now there are three scarecrows going about reeking mayhem, and one of them needs a hand, literally.

Dead and gutted, Jack returns to the house also, and goes after one of the bunch who went slightly off his rocker and stayed behind, with the expected results. If you listen to Jack's demonic growl, by the way, you may notice, depending on your age, that it is the same monster-growling sound heard often in the Lost In Space TV episodes.

The last two survivors race away from the house and back to the plane, barely escaping. But do they? For that, dear readers, you will have to see the movie. It is not available on DVD yet, but you may be able to catch it now and then on cable or satellite, or dig up a hoary video copy on the Amazon.

"Okay," said Zoc, "that takes care of the review. Now where were we?"

Steve Brown handed the binoculars to him. "The door on the right, I think."

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