Horror Biz: The Mob Rules in ‘Dark Night of the Scarecrow’
There are few things in the world that I derive more enjoyment from than horror cinema. Playing music is ... okay. Writing fun little quips here and there and interviewing my heroes is ... fine, I guess. At the end of the day, I’d much rather be in a dark room with some gross-ass concoction of heavily buttered popcorn and peanut M&M’s (try it, you’ll thank me) and some wild gore flick than doing anything else in the whole goddamn world. Horror is sustenance. Horror is life. Horror is everything.
Halloween is right around the corner. In honor of the greatest holiday that ever was and ever will be, I’ve asked some of my favorite musicians, label heads and music video directors to tell us a bit about some of their favorite genre films. These individuals possess a keen understanding and a deep love of the medium. I hope that you enjoy their insights as much as I have.
Today's Horror Biz comes courtesy of Ryan Martin. Co-owner of the esteemed Dais Records, founder of the notable Robert & Leopold imprint, modular synth guru and regular creative collaborator with everyone from Genesis P-Orridge to Maurizio Bianchi, Martin possesses a near encyclopedic knowledge of outsider art, abstract music, experimental literature, fringe religious sects and horror movies.
DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (dir. Frank De Felitta, 1981)
While not one of the scariest or best executed horror flicks of the "classic" era of the genre, Dark Night of the Scarecrow has all the right and wrong elements that made it too perfect for the "how many stereotypes can we squeeze into a TV special" standards of 1980s television, and too amateur for the big-screen treatment. Taking sympathy cues from Of Mice and Men, they transpose that formula into yet another nondescript middle America town (because we all know this shit never happens in a place like Detroit), but flip the storyline to that of sadistic revenge.
Bubba, the town dullard, befriends a beloved small girl, but unfortunately gets in trouble with the local hillbillies after said girl gets attacked by a dog on his watch. The stellar townie militia, headed by the local mailman (played by celluloid's go-to asshole Charles Durning), decides that the only rational course of action would be to murder the mentally retarded gentleman while he hides from their chase in a scarecrow outfit in a farm field. The small girl recovers from her dog attack and notices strange, haunting coincidences happening all around her, seemingly caused by the spirit of Bubba past. Simultaneously, the bumbling drunk morons who killed Bubba start getting picked off one by one by — you guessed it — the ghost of Bubba.
Some of the more charming murder scenes including Lane Smith (RIP) getting ground up in a wood chipper, some no-name hack getting smothered to death in a grain silo and the finale [SPOILER ALERT] of Mr. Postal USA getting chased by a giant haunted farm plow — but surprisingly getting impaled on a pitchfork wielded by that symbolic scarecrow. After all that menace, the movie ends on a surprising upbeat note and life returns to normal.