What’s up weirdos?! Welcome to another edition of Awfully Good, where rad trash movies can be celebrated! This month’s feature presentation is Scare Crow, or possibly Scarecrow, a seasonal slasher from the good folks at The Asylum. Before we get into that, though, let’s cover some ground rules.
1. When we use terms like “awful” or “trash” or “black hole of quality” or “cheesy,” that’s not a slam. As long as we’re out here enjoying movies, which is what we all wanna do, none of these usually-negative terms should be read as dumping on the movie in question.
2. Awfully Good movies have to be fun to watch. This isn’t just about filmmaking mistakes.
3. No shoes on the furniture.
Are we good? Good! Check out this trailer for Scarecrow (or is it Scare Crow?) and I’ll meet you on the other side!
So let’s jump into Scare Crow. It’s listed as one word on IMDb, but it’s definitely two words in the official logo. Either way, this movie is a 2002 slasher flick about a killer scarecrow. It was released by The Asylum, a production company best known for their low-budget sci-fi monster movies like Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. With that pedigree, you can kind of already tell what Scarecrow is gonna be like. There’s no budget, the acting is… unconvincing, and there are a million little technical errors in the movie (some big ones, too). All in all, it’s pretty much a perfect candidate for this column.
The movie starts, like so many others, with opening credits. There’s something special about these credits, though: they go on for so long. Also notable is that the film was shot in 4:3 fullscreen, an aspect ratio much more likely to be a TV show from the time period than a movie. The music is the kind of thing you would expect from a 2002 slasher movie, and the text is intercut with images of our protagonist, Lester. Also, somebody named “The Bulldog” is credited as Music Supervisor. Was this an actual bulldog? I sure hope so!
“The movie starts, like so many others, with opening credits…”
After the credits end, we go into our cold open. While the credits lasted forever, this scene is extremely brief. A guy pulls his Mustang off the road to break down. I was there many times when I had a little 2000 Mustang. RIP. Anyway, then the guy gets murdered! Immediately! Someone gets bodied in this movie before a single word of dialogue!!! From there, we cut to a giggly group of movie stoners sitting in a corn field telling scary stories. The leader of the pack starts in on a whopper of a tale, promising a surprise ending. This begs a philosophical question: is it truly a surprise ending if we’re expecting it all along? I mean, you can’t really tell someone to wait to be surprised. That’s not how that works. Anyway, that leads us into the meat of the film.
Lester, who you might recognize from the opening credits, is a middle-aged man that’s been cast as a high school student. This is a recurring theme in many types of media, but it’s especially prevalent in no-budget genre films. I use the term Adult Teenagers to classify actors in their late 20s playing fifteen year olds. This movie’s cast is almost entirely Adult Teenagers.
So Lester’s sitting in class, working on some doodles, and his teacher comes up to his desk and immediately starts talking about how his mom’s a whore and that’s why he’ll never amount to anything. Really, there’s like three seconds between her telling him to pay attention and making fun of his mom. From there, it’s just one series of mishaps after another for young (ha!) Lester. He gets tripped by bullies in the courtyard, he gets tripped by bullies in jorts in the hallway, there’s a lot of tripping. There’s also a bit of the extremely casual homophobia that’s so jarring to modern audiences, so keep an eye out for that.
Then we’re introduced to Judy. Judy is the only person in town that’ll stick up for poor Les, and as such becomes the object of his affection. Judy’s characterization brings up a point that might be considered scholarly if someone smarter were tackling it. Is Scare Crow a Queer Horror film? One of the main characters is constantly referred to as a lesbian, but that might just be because she sports the official Lesbian Haircut of 2002. There’s not much else to support the other characters’s assertions. I’m of the opinion that all horror films are at least a little Queer Horror, so my official stance is that Scare Crow doesn’t necessarily earn a place in the canon.
At any rate, this movie’s awful. Let’s get back into that!
“…there are more flips than you might have expected. […] the titular slasher spends half of his screen-time doing an Olympic floor routine.”
I’m skipping ahead a little here, but two important things happen more or less simultaneously. 1. There’s a party where all the aging high school kids are hanging out, drinking beer and listening to a pretty lame band- more on that in a bit- and 2. Lester’s drunken mother (who is by all appearances younger than her son) brings home a gentleman caller. He looks like a no-copyright-infringement Halloween costume of Earl from My Name is Earl. “Sleazy Steve,” the packaging might call him. That guy starts mocking Lester for his art (in really bizarre ways) and tells him, in explicit detail, what he’s gonna do to Lester’s mom.
Back at the party, the band’s playing next to the pool. Some goofball keeps making silly faces into the camera, so a group of nerds throw him in the pool. Then it’s like, hey, this goofy guy’s in the pool now. That’s the whole bit.
The action moves inside, where we find out that Judy is the sheriff’s daughter. We cut back and forth from this party to the cornfield that’s apparently Lester’s back yard. He’s jealous of a scarecrow, you see, because scarecrows don’t care or worry about anything. Then Sleazy Steve drags Lester around by the neck screaming “Say my name!” It’s super uncomfortable. Then Lester dies.
Oh, sorry. SPOILER ALERT: then Lester dies. They frame his death as a suicide, some sad piano music plays over a melancholy montage, and then the action cuts to Sleazy Steve vs. THE SCARECROW! That’s right, the scarecrow that Lester just died next to. It’s an extremely brief fight scene, but there are more flips than you might have expected. I wouldn’t necessarily think of scarecrows as being particularly agile, but the titular slasher spends half of his screen-time doing an Olympic floor routine. If this movie had been based on a book, the book might have been titled “Scare Crow: An Abundance of Flips.” It’s probably my favorite thing about this movie.
I don’t want to ruin the surprises of this movie by going into details, but the rest of it follows a pretty standard formula. Scarecrow shows up, does some flips, murders someone, then says a pun. You can tell that the filmmakers were inspired by Freddy Krueger’s M.O. of one-liners (and calling everybody “bitch”).
“This movie is a ton of fun to riff, and if you have friends that are into this kind of thing, I bet it would play well with a crowd.”
After a few murders, and quite a few flips, we make it to the end of the film. The action returns to the cornfield stoners from the intro, and credits roll. There we see, holy crap, this movie was dedicated to Dario Argento?! That’s like a high school metal band thanking Mozart in the liner notes of their demo. At any rate, there you have it! That’s Scare Crow!
This movie’s a weird one, because I can’t pin it down. If it’s supposed to be funny, it doesn’t work at all. This movie has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and the wordplay’s about six degrees shy of clever. On the other hand, if this isn’t supposed to be a comedy, it’s hilarious. This movie is a ton of fun to riff, and if you have friends that are into this kind of thing, I bet it would play well with a crowd. If you want to add Scare Crow to your collection, you can pick it up on a two-sided DVD featuring the sequel Scare Crow: Slayer from Amazon. I haven’t seen Slayer yet, but Tony Todd’s in it!
Have you seen Scare Crow? Let us know what you thought of the film on Twitter, Reddit, and the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook. Find more Awfully Good recommendations HERE and stay tuned to Nightmare on Film Street for more news, reviews, and front flips!