Is SCARECROWS a zombie movie?

Scarecrows

I was watching a fairly pristine copy of SCARECROWS the other night, as it is one of my go to comfort movies, and I was struck by how truly excellent the score is. It moves in the classic horror way with hissing cymbals, ominous bass notes and high pitched tinkery, but it also does some really strange things in unexpected places. In just the first few minutes, along with the gloom and doom piano and the radio announcer’s all too calm and friendly voice, a faint sort of martial electro-pop undercurrent runs through it. It honestly threw me so far as to where I had to stop the film a couple of times to see if it was actually part of the movie or someone’s music from outside. While the tempo and sound effects occasionally rise to an almost cartoonish level, it never falls out of pace with the action. Just as cool as…

Oh, the movie.
Right.

This was the directorial debut of William Wesley. A fall favorite, but great any time of year, I consider this film a classic and definitely a more than one watcher. Nominated for the International Fantasy Film Award, fully on the level with greats like Pumpkinhead and… well, isn’t that enough? I could gush for several thousand words over the badassery involved in this backwoods gem.
Clocking in at just 83 minutes, the story is a sound, fresh take on how to get people trapped in the woods fending for their lives against supernatural beasties and each other. However, these people are professional thieves on the run from the military, not a group of teens headed out to party. One of them, a Brit named Bert (B.J. Turner), decides to turn traitor,  jumps from the plane the crew hijacked, taking the money they’ve stolen, landing in a forboding cornfield full of scarecrows… and the chase is on.
The acting is so much more than competent for a movie of this budget caliber. Really, some fantastic performances and for fun dialogue you wish you were in a situation to be able to use, this flick is hard to beat. It’s literally brimming with quotable lines, particularly the exchanges between Jack (Richard Vidan) and Curry (Michael David Simms).

Curry: Check out the inside, will ya…

Jack: Somebody lives here.

Curry: Not anymore they don’t. Now check it out inside.

Jack: Bullshit, man. YOU check it out!

——-

Jack: Curry, do you get the feeling we’re being watched?

Curry: NO!

Jack: Then why’s your finger on the trigger?

Curry: Shut up, asshole.

Jack: I think this place is possessed by demonic demons.

Curry: Your head’s gonna be possessed by the butt of my gun if you don’t shut up! Demonic demons… Christ!

——-

Jack: This is bullshit, man! WE should be taking off! You think Bert ate that money? You’re all fucking crazy! Somebody out there gutted Bert like a fish and stuffed him full of cash!

Curry: Your brains are gutted, dick… how the hell’d he kick our asses?

——-

I haven’t even scratched the surface.
From Roxanne’s (Kristina Sanborn) “Should I splatter your face around the cockpit or what?” and “Try a little rouge. It’ll make you look… happier.”, to Corbin’s (Ted Vernon, also producer) “God to Bert… your birthday’s been cancelled.” and “Bert, this ammo’s blessed… so when I blow you away, buddy, every piece of you is going straight to Hell!”, this film is a treasure trove of horror trope dialogue done to the nines.
Not to mention, the special effects are the absolute epitome of what gore in a horror film should be. The very best 1989 had to offer has held up to every format thus far. No CGI blood here… or anything CG else, for that matter.
And does the movie live up to its title? You bet your ass it does!
I’ve often heard this referred to as a zombie film and I don’t really think that’s quite accurate or fair. We are led to believe that the scarecrows in question are a ‘family’ of three men, known as the Fowlers, who were ‘very fuckin weird…into devil worship or some shit’.

 

ScarecrowsThese men are more than just mindless killing/eating machines. Through their dark magic, they have found a way to live forever by becoming as the scarecrows in the corn. It seems they made a pact of some sort, perhaps with the spirits of mockingbirds and crows, with the devils and the guardians of the field, offering their bodies to be remade over and over again to protect their land. To punish wicked and innocent alike who might trespass upon it. These men are magicians of burlap and flesh, of feather and straw and twine, of rust and blood and bone. They aren’t after your brain, but they will replace their broken parts with the fresh, clean ones they can salvage from your dead or dying body.
As monsters however, they are probably not going to invade our cities looking for fresh meat. Unlike zombies, these men are only protecting what’s theirs. Just don’t cross them and you’ll probably be fine.
Like Jack says, “If I were a crow, I’d be someplace else.”

Rating: 4.5/5 ★★★★½ 

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About Arthur_C

Arthur Cullipher studied advanced effects make-up and prosthetics at the Joe Blasco school in Orlando, Florida. Arthur Cullipher is the founder of Clockwerk Pictures. He is a Dollmaker, Filmmaker, Actor, Writer, Special Effects Artist, Fire Performer, Philosopher, Magician and many other things for which there are not names. Arthur is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival in Bloomington, Indiana. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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