Tuesday, October 19, 2010

If I Only Had a Brain...

I knew I was in for it early on in Scarecrows (1988, directed by William Wesley) when one of our troupe of mercenary robbers stops to fix her make-up while they're hunting for an absconding accomplice. Really? In 1988, no less? Puh-leeze.

Anyway, this low budget mathom from the back shelf of the video store follows the robbers out of an airplane into a field populated by zombie scarecrows. You can probably guess where it leads. It's not awful, but it's awfully stupid. I know that the Wizard of Oz reference that titles this post is obvious, but the film's tagline does the same thing: "They Only Want A Brain ... Yours." It's an agreeably cheesy movie, though it's one that resists any kind of analysis by virtue of its simplicity. I've told you the plot in less than two paragraphs, although I would add that the scarecrows scavenge their victims for body parts, and that's all you really need to know. There's no subtext, no meaning, no politics, and (especially) no fiddly backstory or explanations. It sets up its situation and lets it rampage for 83 minutes. I probably would have loved this movie when I was 13. I can't say I love it now. At the end of the month, after two more weeks of a steady diet of horror movies, I probably won't even remember it. Its sheer simplicity makes it hard to write anything probing about it, too.

That said, it's one of the few films I've seen from this period that shows the immediate influence of Romero's Day of the Dead. Our merry troupe of mercenaries are kissing cousins to the military men in Day, complete with a Joe Pilato-style leader (who goes bonkers in the back half of the film). For that matter, the movie makes good use of its limited resources. The demonic scarecrows are fine, as are the various gore effects (which are nicely rationed throughout the movie). The gore scenes are designed to make the audience cringe, and largely succeed. But the script is awful: flat characters, risible dialogue ("demonic demons?" learn to use a thesaurus, guys), and there are a couple of egregious "Ripley goes back for the cat" moments. It's probably a good thing that it doesn't attempt any kind of complex plotting. As Dirty Harry says, a man's got to know his limitations...

Current Challenge tally:

Total Viewings: 18

First Time Viewings: 18

1 comment:

Mike McLaren said...

I love cheesy, B horror movies. I wish I had the scarecrow on my porch. Instead, I have a zombie.