Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

   
Written & Directed by: Frank De Felitta

Starring:

.... Otis P. Hazelrigg
.... Skeeter Norris
.... Philby
.... Harless Hocker
.... Marylee Williams
Larry Drake .... Bubba Ritter
.... Mrs. Ritter

Release Date: Made-for-TV: October 24, 1981

 
Rating:

 

A mentally challenged man Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake) is shot to death while trying to hide in a scarecrow outfit while some local rednecks lead by the nasty mailman Otis P. Hazelrigg (Charles Durning) think that a little girl Marylee Williams (Tonya Crowe) was attacked by him but was innocent.
Later on these rednecks are hunted themselves by a mysterious scarecrow figure that is hung in their property and are faced by deadly consequences.

 

The beginning of the story looked a bit rushed as we spot many situations involving a little girl Marylee Williams and a mentally challenged full grown burly man whom is Bubba Ritter playing in a field as this looked a bit corny to watch but yet is the main theme for what will unravel in the story later on and is well noticed.
Good moments on this child getting into mischief including trespassing in another property only to be pitted against a guard dog with a good close up shot on the dog growling and barking as well as exposing it's teeth which keeps you in suspense wondering if she will escape or not. Certainly makes you watch carefully for what could happen next.

A perfect shot on him carrying her to her parents house as this for sure looked disturbing and intense by what is going on here and a nice drawing card to a horror story that will unravel later on.
Great moments on Bubba himself trying to run away from the local rednecks lead by the nasty Otis P. Hazelrigg trying to kill him as well as him panicking to his Ma Mrs. Ritter with her trying to calm him down as this looked very realistic and strongly put into the story.
Great drawing in moments with the rednecks following their bloodhounds to a field where a scarecrow is revealed as well as them carefully looking at this object as well as good close ups on the eyes which makes you cringe knowing that Bubba is disguised as well as these rednecks pointing theior rifles towards him which leaves you a good cringing feeling that something awful is going to happen next which is not a pleaser to anyone who hates watching someone innocent being murdered.
Then later on they get a call telling them that Bubba was innocent which totally has a psychological feel to the story reminding of a terrible mistake you made in your lifetime which was well put into the story.
There's a good moment with Marylee going into Mrs. Ritter's home and trying to find Bubba with a nice moment on her trying to tell this poor child about him being dead which isn't an easy thing as this looked greatly done along with Marylee taking her out to the field and telling her he will be back and just playing his hiding game which looked very effective into the story making us watch later on by what will unravel next.
Perfect situation with Harless Hocker looking out in his farmland and then suddenly spotting a scarecorw in the distance of his property which adds a nice mysterious type of flavor to the story. Also later on in the story some nice dark shots on him climbing up a ladder in his barn hearing some sounds. Yet things seem a bit cheesy when there's suggestive moments on him about to be pushed off and then awakening into a silo but there's nice shots on him being trapped in there with grain filling up which gives a good psychological feel on him being buried alive inside of this object. Certainly looked intense enough even if it was a bit dated.
Perfect intense moment with Otis grabbing Mrs. Ritter from behind in a chair and then a good inten se and deadly result happening later on which looked nicely done for a flick such as this one.
Perfect dark moment with Otis and Philby digging up Bubba's grave which was impressive for the horror story here and keeping you in suspense by what we may find out on what will happen next. Good camera shots focusing on Otis holding a shovel which makes you cringe and wondering if he will murder his friend due to what we spot so far into the story which was strongly put into the story.
Nice fun moments with a Halloween party with kids like Marylee bobbing for apples as well as people in costumes dancing making you want to join in on the fun. Also a good moment with Otis creepily approaching Marylee acting wickedly charming with her looking angry at him as this showed nice timing as well as him later on acting nasty and controlling which shines off well into the plot.
A perfect moment with Otis trying to chase after her in a field which looked intense while watching as well as spotting a vehicle turning on it's lights at him and charging towards him plus a nice shot on the scarecrow with a pitchfork and a clever horror moment by what we spot later on. What was even dark and more impressive is when this little girl talks to this scarecrow as it unravels the whole hiding situation and what they plan to do next which is a perfect write in for the horror flick such as this one making this creepily mysterious and offering a nice ending to this made for tv flick.
Bottom line is the film is a bit slow and dated and seemed like just and average unscary horror flick with low production values but it picks up and adds alot of mysterious moments unravelling the scarecorw incidents and if Bubba was really dead or not. A fun and campy type of flick if you're in the mood for it.

The acting is a bit dated but still well performed by what we see here for the most part as lead actor (Otis P. Hazelrigg) was by far the best out of the whole cast in which he lived to play a head nasty redneck mail delivery person. He really focused pretty good with his troops to try and kill someone as well as acting perfectly wickedy and greedy about stuff. Also does a nice job acting intense and threatening in one part of the film as well as in other scene being creepily charming and acting cold with his speaking. Plus does well with his blocking when he murders someone or getting manipulative. He was for sure a force of evil. A true character actor he was.
(Philby) portrayed a perfect wimpy type of redneck as he does well with his paranoid type of behavior in which he does a good job acting alerted by every scene he was involved in. Also does well with his freaked out actions by all that's going on. Plus shows some great aggressive and paranoid expressions too. Draws a nice intensity too into everything.
(Harless Hocker) knew his craft as a dimwitted one who just seems to be a typical airhead and had the right looks and motive in order to be this way. Also does a nice job with his aggressions when he thinks a prank is set on him as he brought that out nicely. Also does well with his energetic fear during his suffocating scene bringing it to a nice punch.
(Marylee Williams) does her job nicely as a mischevious little girl getting herself into trouble. She was a ball of energy and was realistic by exploring things and shows a nice concentration by this. Also does a good job showing some angry expressions towards someone else and also offers nice energy while running away as well as screaming. Plus she really comes across nicely onto the camera with her mysterious appeal by what she says in certain segments of the story.
Larry Drake (Bubba Ritter) however was a little too over the top as his role on someone whom is mentally challenged especially when he freaks out but isn't overly terrible since he shows some decent energy at the same time. He had the right creepy types of looks and right size for the role.
(Mrs. Ritter) was one of the best in the cast as an understanding and protective mother showing a good and calm type of behavior as well as someone whom is believeably understanding and helpful. Also does a good job with talking to an onscreen little girl on a sad situation acting convincingly warm and caring too. She also does well freaking out in her last scene as well as doing well suffocating to death. She brought that all to a nice hype.

A person is stabbed by a pitchfork but it isn't gruesome.

Alot of the music seems outdated and off key with the icy synthesizer music that we hear in most of the film and it tends to get quite annoying and sounding totally low key and poorly done. However there's the odd low dark sounds which makes certain scene's sound incredibly effective so not all of it was too badly done in which was put together by Glenn Paxton