Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) (TV)

Directed by:
Frank De Felitta

Mentally-retarded Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake) is ridiculed and bullied by many in the small farming community in which he lives. A 36-year-old with the mind of a child, Bubba's best friend is Marylee (Tonya Crowe), a little girl whom he plays with. That innocent friendship is looked down upon my many in their community despite being sweet and completely harmless. One day after playing in a field, Marylee sneaks into someone's yard to look at their water fountain and garden gnomes and gets attacked by a dog. Reactionary (and incorrect) small town gossip quickly spreads around, prompting short-tempered mailman Otis Hazelrigg (Charles Durning), who hates (and spies on) Bubba anyway and may be projecting because of his own unhealthy attraction to little girls, to take justice into his own hands. Along with greasy mechanic Skeeter (Robert F. Lyons), obese mill owner Philby (Claude Earl Jones) and redneck farmer Harless (Lane Smith), Otis hops in his pickup truck with a couple of dogs and decides to hunt Bubba down and punish him for "killing" little Marylee.






Bubba returns home in a panic, where his protective mother (Jocelyn Brando) encourages him to play "the hiding game" until everything blows over. Bubba goes out into the field and hides inside a scarecrow. When Otis and company discover where he is, they shoot him over 20 times. Immediately after, the men get a call on the CB telling them that Marylee is OK and that Bubba had actually saved her life. Oops. Things go to court, but the four killers, who'd placed a pitchfork in the unarmed Bubba's hands after they gunned him down, are acquitted of all charges and allowed to walk free. Bubba's ma reminds them that "there's other justice in this world besides the law." And she's right. Someone or something starts stalking and killing the men responsible for Bubba's death. Before each murder a straw-killed scarecrow appears near their homes as a calling card that their time is up.






After Harless is ground up by his brush machine, the other three start to panic and try to place a human face on the killer. Is it Mrs. Ritter wanting revenge for her son's death? Or Marylee, who claims to still see and talk to Bubba long after his passing? There's district attorney Sam Willock (Tom Taylor), who is assured of their guilt and promised that if he found a single shred of evidence he'd make sure they were all put on death row. Or perhaps somehow, some way Bubba himself has managed to return from the grave to settle the score. The film saves the big reveal for the end but, in the meantime there's death by pitchfork, shovel and, during the film's most memorable bit, a man is trapped in a silo and suffocated by corn.






Dark Night of the Scarecrow managed to scare a whole generation of kiddies when it debuted on TV around Halloweentime in 1981. There's a certain nostalgia value here for some of us, as well as some genuinely creepy moments if you don't mind something slower-paced, quiet, atmospheric and somewhat ambiguous. A few of the actors overdo it a little but for the most part the acting is fine. Durning turns in a truly loathsome character (Strother Martin was originally cast in the role but died before production began) and Drake would go on to play another sweet-natured mentally-challenged man on the hit TV series L.A. Law (which netted him two Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe nominations). John Steadman (from THE HILLS HAVE EYES) and Alice Nunn (FANGS) both have small roles. The eerie music score is from Glenn Paxton. Director De Felitta is best known as a screenwriter: AUDREY ROSE (1977), THE ENTITY (1981), etc.






Front Row and Key both released this on VHS back in the 80s. A belated DVD and blu-ray release came from VCI Entertainment in 2010. It comes with a documentary short on the production. I'm sure you can tell from my screencaps that I watched the video version.

★★★

100 Most Popular Reviews - November

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and didn't get stampeded over by 50 rabid housewives on Black Friday. Me? I opted to lock myself inside my home yesterday until it was safe to come outside.

I decided to make our most-viewed reviews list a quarterly thing to keep tabs on what brings people here in the first place as well as highlight some films which may have gotten buried. Since the last update (see the August list RIGHT HERE), 14 new films have managed to get enough hits to make the Top 100. Of those, I was surprised to see the hit count on Sex Ritual of the Occult (1970) go through the roof in no time. In just a few months, Ritual has managed to crack the Top 5 thanks to thousands of clicks. If it keeps moving at that rate, it may eventually overtake Evil in the Woods (1986), which has been the #1 most viewed review here by a wide margin since I started paying attention. Naked Obsession (1990) has risen 57 spots; the most of the films that did make the August list. The popularity of films with "sex" and "naked" in the title isn't lost on me, so expect more of the same in the future.

Naked Obsession's Maria Ford would like to thank you for your patronage.

With six films in the Top 100, Jess Franco remains the most clicked director around these parts and with 2 films in the Top 20, Donald Farmer remains the only director to get two films into the Top 20. Most of the movies that made the list are lesser-known films made outside of Hollywood (low-budget, obscure, regional...) or non-American ones (over thirty different countries are represented below), which is something I truly enjoy seeing.

The list below is divided into three sections; the Top 20, the rest of the Top 100 and the films which got kicked out of the Top 100 since the last update. Next to each title is its amount of movement since the last update (green = increase in popularity; red = decrease in popularity). *NEW* denotes the film didn't make the list last time, but has this time. No number means the film has retained its spot.


TOP 20:

001. - Evil in the Woods (1986; William J. Oates)
002. - Brides of Blood (1968; Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero)
003. - Wrong Way (1972; Ray Williams)
004. - Heavy Metal Massacre (1989; David DeFalco)
005. - Sex Ritual of the Occult (1970; Robert Caramico) *NEW*
006. - War Victims (1983; Jopi Burnama) +3
007. - Cannibal Hookers (1987; Donald Farmer) -2
008. - Ghost Story of the Snow Witch (1968; Tokuzo Tanaka) -2
009. - Psycho Lover, The (1969; Robert Vincent O'Neill) -2
010. - Sweet Movie (1974; Dusan Makavejev) +2
011. - Attack of the Killer Refrigerator (1984; Michael Savino) -3
012. - Bride's Initiation, The (1972; Duncan Stewart) -2
013. - Burning Hell, The (1974; Ron Ormond) +4
014. - Geek, The (1971; none credited) +1
015. - Hollywood Meatcleaver Massacre (1975; Evan Lee) -4
016. - Eugenie de Sade (1970; Jesus Franco) -2
017. - Hereafter, The (1983; Michael J. Murphy) -4
018. - Brutal Storm (1985; Kadir Akgun) +1
019. - Scream Dream (1989; Donald Farmer) -3
020. - Dream a Little Evil (1990; Royce Mathew) -2

THE REST:

021. - Dressed to Kill (1980; Brian De Palma) +11
022. - Murder Secret, The (1989; Mario Bianchi) -2
023. - Superstition (1982; Joseph W. Roberson) *NEW*
024. - Cemetery of Terror (1985; Rubén Galindo Jr.) -2
025. - Jungle Heat (1988; Ratno Timoer) -2
026. - Escape from the Insane Asylum (1986; Felix Girard) -2
027. - Devil's Kiss (1975; Georges Gigó) -6
028. - Sex Psycho (1970; Walt Davis) -3
029. - Requiem for a Vampire (1973; Jean Rollin) +1
030. - Eugenie... the Story of Her Journey Into Perversion (1969; Jesus Franco) -2
031. - Demons, The (1972; Jesus Franco) -5
032. - Kill Barbara with Panic (1974; Celso Ad. Castillo) +15
033. - Marquis de Sade's "Justine" (1968; Jesus Franco) +6
034. - Chunk Blower (1990; Jim Van Bebber) -7
035. - Naked Obsession (1990; Dan Golden) +57
036. - Sex Wish (1976; Victor Milt) *NEW*
037. - Demon Rage (1980; James Polakof) *NEW*
038. - Bad Blood (1989; Chuck Vincent) -7
039. - Sex and the Single Vampire (1970; Modunk Phreezer) *NEW*
040. - Demented Death Farm Massacre... The Movie (1986; Donn Davison and Fred Olen Ray) -7
041. - Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf (1975; Leonardo Favio) +32
042. - Driller (1984; Joyce James) -13
043. - Women in Cellblock 9 (1977; Jesus Franco) -8
044. - Ghostess with the Mostess, The (1988; Alex de Renzy) -2
045. - Breeders (1986; Tim Kincaid)
046. - Entrails of a Beautiful Woman (1986; Kazuo 'Gaira' Komizu) -12
047. - Cannibal Mercenary (1983; Hong Lu Wong) -7
048. - Mad Mutilator (1983; Norbert Georges Mount) -12
049. - Night of the Comet (1984; Thom Eberhardt) +2
050. - Blood Diner (1987; Jackie Kong) +4
051. - Hackers, The (1987; John Duncan) -13
052. - Night of the Walking Dead (1977; León Klimovsky) -11
053. - Killing of Satan, The (1983; Efren C. Piñon) -16
054. - Creepozoids (1987; David DeCoteau) *NEW*
055. - Gestapo's Last Orgy, The (1977; Cesare Canevari) +34
056. - Urge to Kill, The (1989; Derek Ford) -8
057. - Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1974; Don Edmonds) *NEW*
058. - SS Girls (1977; Bruno Mattei) -15
059. - Gorgasm (1990; Hugh Gallagher) -3
060. - Beast of Hollow Mountain, The (1956; Edward Nassour and Ismael Rodríguez) +35
061. - Adoration (1986; Olivier Smolders) +7
062. - Rush Week (1989; Bob Bralver) -16
063. - Joy of Torture, The (1968; Teruo Ishii) *NEW*
064. - Lake of the Dead (1958; Kåre Bergstrøm) -15
065. - Murder Weapon (1989; David DeCoteau) -5
066. - Panther Women, The (1966; Rene Cardona) -11
067. - Cape Canaveral Monsters, The (1960; Phil Tucker) -5
068. - Torture Dungeon (1970; Andy Milligan) -11
069. - Beyond Erotica (1974; José María Forqué) -5
070. - Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) (1969; William Edwards) *NEW*
071. - Night of the Living Babes (1987; Jon Valentine) +7
072. - Scarlet Scorpion, The (1990; Ivan Cardoso) -22
073, - Killer is Not Alone, The (1975; Jesús García de Dueñas) -10
074. - Zodiac Killer, The (1971; Tom Harrison) -30
075. - Gakidama (1985; Masayoshi Sukida) +5
076. - Dreamaniac (1986; David DeCoteau) -24
077. - Doctor Bloodbath (1987; Nick Millard) -12
078. - Black Magic, Part II (1976; Meng Hua Ho) +13
079. - Joy of Torture 2: Oxen-Split Torturing, The (1976; Yûji Makiguchi) *NEW*
080. - Glass Ceiling, The (1971; Eloy de la Iglesia) -27
081. - Night Ripper! (1986; Jeff Hathcock) -9
082. - Sister of Ursula, The (1978; Enzo Milioni) -11
083. - Escape from Coral Cove (1986; Terrance Cheung Ga-Jan) -17
084. - Torso (1973; Sergio Martino) +16
085. - Witch Story (1989; Alessandro Capone) +14
086. - Faces of Death IV (1990; John Alan Schwartz) -9
087. - Who Can Kill a Child? (1975; Narciso Ibáñez Serrador) *NEW*
088. - Daughter of Dracula (1972; Jesus Franco) -1
089. - Entrails of a Virgin (1986; Kazuo 'Gaira' Komizu) -28
090. - Victims! (1985; Jeff Hathcock) *NEW*
091. - Ants! (1977; Robert Scheerer) *NEW*
092. - Bloodlust (1976; Marijan David Vajda) -7
093. - Possessed (1983; David Lai) *NEW*
094. - Rape (1976; Miguel Iglesias) -20
095. - Doriana Grey (1976; Jesus Franco) -25
096. - House of the Black Death (1965; Harold Daniels, Reginald Le Borg and Jerry Warren) -37
097. - Night Beast (1982; Don Dohler) -28
098. - Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977; Joe D'Amato) *NEW*
099. - Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby (1976; Sam O'Steen) -41
100. - Bamboo House of Dolls, The (1973; Chih-Hung Kuei) -22

GONE:

101. - Dinosaurus! (1960; Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.) [formerly 88] -13
102. - Cellar Dweller (1987; John Carl Buechler) [formerly 93] -9
103. - Giallo in Venice (1979; Mario Landi) [formerly 81] -22
104. - La cabina (1972; Antonio Mercero) [formerly 70] -44
110. - Suffer, Little Children (1983; Alan Briggs) [formerly 90] -20
111. - Death Weekend (1976; William Fruet) [formerly 75] -36
116. - Witchery (1988; Fabrizio Laurenti) [formerly 82] -34
117. - Chase from Beyond (1990; Patrick Yeung) [formerly 84] -33
121. - Blacker Than the Night (1975; Carlos Enrique Taboada) [formerly 83] -38
122. - Dark Echoes (1977; Goerge Robotham) [formerly 97] -25
123. - Dead Mate (1988; Straw Weisman) [formerly 76] -47
124. - Gorgon Video Magazine, Volume 2 (1989; Stuart S. Shapiro and others) [formerly 86] -38
128. - Black Candles (1980; José Ramón Larraz) [formerly 96] -32
129. - Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie (1984; Myron C. Gold) [formerly 94] -35
134. - Mad Butcher, The (1971; Guido Zurli) [formerly 98] -36

As of November 1.
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