Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
Directed by Frank De Felitta
Starring Charles Durning, Robert F. Lyons, Claude Earl Jones, Lane Smith, Tonya Crowe, Larry Drake, Jocelyn Brando, Tom Taylor, Richard McKenzie
Plot: In a small town, a man is wrongfully killed for a crime he didn't commit. Soon, someone - or something - is exacting vengeance for his death.
This movie has been mentioned a lot recently on blogs, due to the fact that it has been released on DVD for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I was lucky to fall into a good spot in the Netflix line, so my wife and I watched it this weekend. And we enjoyed it.
The gore/blood is at a minimum, mainly due to the fact that this was a made-for-TV film. But this works in the film's favor, as more time is spent on the characters and their interactions with each other. The real villain here doesn't turn out to be who we expect, rather we are left rooting for vengeance to be exacted on those who have done wrong due to their nature, be that pure evil or just plain cowardice.
Some of the dark themes here are only lightly touched upon, so that it can appeal to a broader (younger) audience. With sparse diaolgue at times, the thoughts or intentions of some characters are hinted at, but we are left to let our own imaginations fill in the blanks. As usual, this works to add deeper, creepier layers that would be lost if things were more blatantly shoved in our face. As I have said before, less truly is more in thriller, suspense and horror movies.
Acting and directing is all well done here, as everyone brings their best to the production, from Larry Drake as the simple-minded man (how often was he cast in these roles?) to Tonya Crowe as his young, non-judgmental friend. A couple of surprises for me were Durning as a highly-unlikable man with a superiority complex and Jocelyn Brando (Marlon's sister) as Drake's caring mother, soon turned angry and mournful.
Highly recommended, this film may be almost 30 years old, but is great for those looking for a good, scary film on a dark and spooky night!