Scarecrows (1988)    0 Stars

“When it comes to terror they’re in a field of their own”

Scarecrows (1988)

Director: William Wesley

Cast: Ted Vernon, Michael David Simms, Richard Vidan

Synopsis: Five people heist the Camp Pendleton payroll and force a pilot and his daughter to fly them to Mexico.




It’s a sad fact that the progressively closer shots of a scarecrow in a field in the dead of night which are inserted between Scarecrows’ opening credits are the movie’s strongest moments. After that genuinely creepy opening, director William Wesley and his co-writer Richard Jefferies are called upon to deliver a compelling and coherent story — which they fail to do on both counts.

The story has five criminals fleeing a successful heist in a hijacked plane flown by an abducted pilot and his teenage daughter. One of the gang throws the loot from the plane and then parachutes after it after throwing a live grenade into the hull. However, his justifiably unhappy accomplices manage to throw the grenade back out of the plane before it explodes and then go after their ex-mate and the money. The field in which the money landed seems to have one of those creepy scarecrows planted every hundred yards or so, and every so often one of them comes to life long enough to murder one of the villains in a grisly manner.

The plot doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Wesley keeps showing us a photograph of three men in the deserted farmhouse on the edge of the field, suggesting perhaps that they have somehow been transformed into scarecrows. One of the characters suggests it all has something to do with devil worship, while another suggests that they were actually all killed when they were making their escape from the heist and that they are trapped in their own personal hell. Whatever the reason is for the scarecrows and their malicious ways. Wesley makes sure his audience never finds out.

After the first half-hour or so, a character gets knocked off every ten minutes. A couple of times they’re so busy picking up a paper trail of dollars from the ground that they fail to realise they are walking right up to one of the scarecrows until they’re two inches from a muddy boot. I don’t know why, but for some reason, as I watched those scenes, I kept hearing James Woods saying ‘ooh, a piece of candy.’ The muddled storyline is compounded by lousy dialogue delivered by journeymen actors and a notable lack of scares. Avoid at all costs.

(Reviewed 21st June 2013)