Directed By: William Wesley
Starring: Ted Vernon, Michael David Simms, Richard Vidan
Tag line: "They Only Want a Brain...Yours"
Trivia: Nominated for Best Film at the International Fantasy Film Awards
Though nominated for an International Fantasy Film Award in 1989, Scarecrows was relegated to the direct-to-video dungeon upon its release. Watching it over 20 years later, I'd say without reservation that it deserved a much better fate. In relating its story of greed and vengeance, Scarecrows drags us deep into the woods, where we watch in horror as strange events play out over the course of one very dark night.
Five heavily-armed mercenaries have just stolen approximately three million dollars from a military base. To escape, they hijack a civilian plane, kidnapping the pilot (David Campbell) and his teenage daughter (Victoria Christian) and forcing them to fly to Mexico. On their way to the border, one of the five (B.J. Turner), decides he'd rather not share with his compatriots, so he steals the money and parachutes into a nearby field. The remaining four give chase, and track their thieving ally to a desolate backwoods area, complete with a cemetery and dozens of creepy scarecrows hanging throughout. After setting up base in an abandoned house, the four set off into the darkness to retrieve the money, not realizing until it's too late that the scarecrows have been watching their every move.
Admittedly, Scarecrows gets off to a less-than-stellar start. The entire opening, where the ambitious one of the group, whose name is Bert, steals the money and parachutes into the woods, didn't work for me (to prevent his friends from following, Bert tosses a grenade into the aircraft just before jumping. This grenade rattles around for quite a while, seeming to take forever to explode, then when it finally does go off it's as poor a CGI explosion as I've ever seen). But things turn around once the characters leave the plane, and we're treated to some pretty intense moments as each of them realizes the scarecrows are up to more than simply keeping the birds away. Having arrived at the house before his pals, Bert steals a pickup parked outside, which he drives to where the money landed. While loading the crate of cash into the bed of the truck, he hears some shuffling behind him, and turns to see that the scarecrows, which a few seconds earlier were hanging nearby, are no longer on their posts. It's the start of a very tense, very entertaining series of events, with Bert on the run from his fellow mercenaries, all as the scarecrows slowly stalk each and every one of them.
The ominous backwoods setting, coupled with a handful of effective jump scares and bloody kills, makes Scarecrows a little-seen horror film that packs some big-time thrills.