Film Review: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Release Date: October 24th, 1981
Directed by: Frank De Felitta
Written by: J.D. Feigelson, Butler Handcock
Music by: Glenn Paxton
Cast: Larry Drake, Charles Durning, Tonya Crowe, Jocelyn Brando, Lane Smith

Wizan Productions, CBS, 96 Minutes


“[about Marylee being attacked] Bubba didn’t do it.” – Bubba Ritter

For a “made for TV” horror film, this was surprisingly good. It’s tame, considering that it came out at the height of slasher movies but the suspense and the story are handled well.

We are first introduced to Bubba, a small town simpleton in the same vein as Jobe from The Lawnmower Man. He is blamed for a girl’s brutal death even though he tried to save the girl and she does actually survive. A local mob, led by an insane mailman, track Bubba into a field where he is hiding in a scarecrow. They murder him in cold blood only to find out, just after the grisly killing, that Bubba actually saved the girl’s life and is a hero.

As the story progresses, strange things start happening to the four men that murdered Bubba. One is mangled in his tractor and another is buried alive in a corn silo. The mailman goes further insane, as this spirit of Bubba and the little girl are working together to get revenge.

This film builds suspense quite well and there isn’t even a full reveal of the undead Bubba until the very end. This isn’t a film full of gore and visual horror. It alludes to things happening and does a great job of selling the majority of the violence off screen. It was made for television in the ’80s so a straight up gore fest wasn’t possible. But I think that it actually makes for a better film overall.

At times, the picture can drag a bit and seem dry but as a viewer, you want to see the mailman get his just desserts.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow is effective and it used its creative limitations as strengths. It’s a well made film for the time, the budget and its format.

Plus, Larry Drake plays Bubba. You may remember him from Dr. Giggles or as the villain in the Darkman movies.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: ScarecrowsSuperstitionThe Burning.

2 thoughts on “Film Review: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

    • I think this still worked really well. It’s much more atmospheric than what is the norm these days but the fact that ti doesn’t show you most of the horror in a blatant way is much more effective than a bunch of jump scares.

      Liked by 1 person

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