Our month of horror film blogging continues today with a stone-cold classic from thirty years ago. Dark Night of the Scarecrow is the real deal. Don't be put off by the fact that it was a TV movie. This little gem knows how to affect creeping terror quite deftly. I just watched the restored blu-ray release last year, and the movie has aged well.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
This is a fairly straightforward story: a nice, mentally-handicapped man named "Bubba" befriends a young girl. The prejudiced townsfolk don't like it, and so when the girl is attacked one day by a dog, they blame it on Bubba, saying that he raped her (yes, this is a TV movie from the early eighties). Four vigilantes, led by Otis (the town's postman) go on a search for Bubba, who has been hidden as a scarecrow in the cornfield behind his mother's house.
The vigilantes find Bubba, and shoot him dead. Not long afterwards, the men are hunted down, one-by-one, by some sinister force that, at best, they're only able to catch a glimpse of. The terror in Dark Night comes not only from the murder scenes, and the scenes inbetween when the vigilantes are being stalked, but from the notion that one's neighbors could hate you so much, just because you are different, that they would shoot you down in cold blood.
Aside from being a horror movie about death and revenge, Dark Night of the Scarecrow is also a film about love: love of a mother for her son, of a sweet man for a child that he relates to on a mental level, and of a child who never forgets her kind and protective "Bubba." It's one reasons this movie is still thought of fondly after all these years.