They heyday of VHS and video stores were a great time for movie lovers and an especially memorable time for horror movie fanatics. The hours spent pouring over those shelves looking for that hidden gem was all I lived for back then. It was also the era that galvanized the ‘cult classic’. One such film from that era that was almost as well-known just for its VHS box cover as it was for the actual movie was Scarecrows which is released this week on Blu-ray for the first time.
When a group of five mercenaries steal three million dollars from Camp Pendleton and take a pilot and his daughter hostage for their getaway, they think they have hit the jackpot. But when one of their own betrays them and parachutes out with the money, the remaining crooks land the plane and head for an abandoned house in the middle of a dark field to find the money and get revenge on the traitor. But this house has a dark and demonic history and the sinister scarecrows that surround the house aren’t just there to keep the birds away.
Scarecrows deserves its cult status as it strays somewhat from the norms of its genre and gives us a heavily atmospheric shocker that delivers on all levels. First off the story revolves around a group of military criminals which is a breath of fresh air after a billion movies about teens and twenty-somethings. And it also makes monsters of the very cool looking scarecrows, which has really only been done in a handful of other movies. And this one does them up right and very effectively. The creature design is exceptional and very unsettling. The pacing is great, the acting is above average for low budget horror and the cinematography is very hi quality making the film look much better than its budget deserved. The cinematographer by the way was Peter Deming who would go on to do films like My Cousin Vinny, From Hell, Lost Highway, and many Sam Raimi films including Drag Me to Hell, The Cabin in the Woods and Oz the Great and Powerful. A much better film that it has any right to be, Scarecrows is a great 80s gem worth discovering on Blu-ray. Highly recommended.