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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Scarecrows
Scarecrows
MGM // Unrated // September 11, 2007
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted October 5, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

A team of army types pull off a daring robbery and escape during their escape take over a small propeller plane, forcing the pilot and his daughter at gun point to take them to their getaway location in Mexico. During the flight, one of the hoods slaps on his parachute, grabs the loot, and jumps out into the night. During the escape the plane screws up and crash lands in a field near a creepy old farmhouse. When they emerge from the wreckage, the remaining thieves arm themselves and head out into the fields looking for the one who took off with the cash but as the scour the area looking for their former friend, they soon fall prey to the deadly scarecrows that lay in waiting for them.

That's really all there is to the film. To say that the picture is short on plot is a bit of an understatement - Scarecrows is not a particularly smart or deep film. It uses a simple premise - a group of tough guys crash land in a field - to bring on the carnage and it's these scenes or carnage that have earned the picture a decent cult following over the years. To the film's credit, the murder set pieces are quite well done and more than just a little bit gruesome. Disembowelment, finger slicing, and decapitation all happen on screen in full, gory glory and the scarecrows themselves look pretty creepy. Sadly, the decision to allow the antagonistic straw men to speak takes much of the fright out of their screen presence, reducing them to the level of whatever wise-cracking eighties horror movie character you'd like to name in their place. At least the special effects used during the gore sequences are very strong, reminding fans just how cool make up and gore effects were before in the days before CGI.

Hampering the film in a big way, however, are the characters. No one, not the heroine or the sympathetic male lead, come anywhere close to being sympathetic and in fact most of them are pretty annoying right from the start. Add to the fact that the scarecrows are never given any real motivation for their killings. A tiny subplot regarding a trio of Satanists who lived in the house is hinted at but never fleshed out enough to provide anything of substance, and it's almost as if the writers started thinking about it and then simply forgot to follow up.

Even with the very obvious flaws in the film, Scarecrows does manage to entertain, even more so in the uncut (read: gorier) version presented on this DVD. The Florida locations do have some nice, moody atmosphere and the film is certainly fast paced and to the point. Director William Wesley keep things moving quite quickly and he knows how to provide some solid jump scares. The film looks far better than you'd expect its low budget to allow and there's a fair bit of style evident in the final product that shows that cinematographer Peter Deming knew what he was doing even then before moving on to films like Mulholland Drive and From Hell. The scarecrows themselves are creepy bugger and perfect horror movie fodder - too bad that they people who try to out wit them are shallow and obnoxious and that the script lacks any real substance. See this one for the kill scenes and the 80s nostalgia and you won't likely be disappointed but don't expect any lasting impact.

The DVD

Video:

MGM has done a fine job on the 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio, there's barely a hint of print damage and the image is strong and clean looking even during the darker scenes which make up the bulk of the running time. Flesh tones look good, reds are strong and deep without looking too pink, and there are no problems with mpeg compression artifacts. A little bit of line shimmering pops up but otherwise, Scarecrows looks far better than most of us would have expected it to.

Sound:

The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track isn't reference quality but it gets the job done and leaves little room for complain. Dialogue is clean and clear and if the range sounds a little limited, it's forgivable. The score resonates nicely and there are no problems with hiss or distortion. Alternate language 2.0 dubs are provided in French and Spanish and optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.

Extras:

Well, aside from chapter selection, this release of Scarecrows is completely devoid of any extra features whatsoever - very disappointing to see that not even a trailer has been included.

Final Thoughts:

While the movie looks and sounds okay and is presented here in its uncut form, it hasn't aged all that well and the barebones presentation doesn't help anything. Scarecrows has got some solid gore and will definitely provide children of the 80s with a fun sense of nostalgia, but it's not a great film. Rent it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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