July 1, 2004

Scarecrow Gone Wild (2004)

"College mischief spins out of control unleashing a horrifying scarecrow who terrorizes a resort town during Spring Break."

First of all, I have to say that this was nothing to do with one of my favourite scarecrow books of all time, no, not "Worzel Gummidge"(!), but Robert Westall's "The Scarecrows". Westall's book is about a boy who is forced to move to a new home in the countryside when his mother remarries. He looks out of his bedroom window and sees three scarecrows in the field behind their house. Each day the scarecrows get nearer and nearer, moving across the field towards the house... and the boy knows that their intentions are evil. Yes, it's a scary book... so it's totally unlike this film at all.

Secondly, I was amazed at the acting and characterisation in this film. Everyone, apart from the wrestler who takes top billing in the credits for some reason, does a really good job. Ken Shamrock, the wrestler, is probably some household name in the US but I've never heard of him and from his performance, or lack of it, in this film I hope I never have the misfortune of seeing him on screen again. He couldn't act his way out of a paper bag and delivers his lines like an 8 year old schoolboy having to read aloud to class. He very nearly ruined this film singlehandedly and that takes some doing.

Of course, the other things that ruined the film were the lack of budget and the ending.

Really it all starts with a hazing that goes wrong. Then the scarecrow comes to life and starts to pick off the students who left their diabetic friend tied up to him in the first place. It's that simple. It doesn't exactly menace a "resort town" but it does have some fun in a corn field, on the beach, in a hospital (and I use that word loosely) and of course at the school.

There are some nice looking girls in this film, only one of them "tramp stamped" as far as I could tell, and I expect some of the boys are suitably handsome for female audiences. There are a lot of gratuitous topless shots which of course I enjoyed but there's nothing really filthy here. There is a sex scene in the first half hour but it all happens under the sheets so don't get too excited and it is necessary to the plot.... well, sort of.

Matthew Linhardt and Samantha Aisling (playing Jack and Beth) are the big relationship in this story and they do quite a good job. Jack is quite likeable and Beth screams well when necessary. They have some good dialogue which makes it all seem more credible.

In fact, everyone in the film gets some good dialogue, but the poor sets, effects and lack of a very scary monster really lets the film down.

It has a couple of funny moments which I liked but which made things a bit too silly. One of the students with a guitar (which he obviously can't play, just look at the lack of fingering or strumming when he does his song), gets a volleyball pole through his chest when the scarecrow launches it at him like a spear as he is about to do another verse of his "Man of Straw" song. I found this quite satisfying for some reason. Then, after chasing the kids off the beach, the scarecrow gets in their car and runs one of them over. This was a real low point and was like something out of a "Roadrunner" cartoon not a horror film. Worse was to come with the ending though.

I'm not going to spoil the ending for you as you might want to watch this film at some point. Let me just say in advance though that, as much as you enjoy the rest of the film, the last ten minutes will make you want to kick the television in with disgust. If you stop watching the film just after the diabetic kid gets saved and before the "coach" (that wrestler) reappears and they all drink champagne (obviously where the rest of the budget went) then you will have watched a tidy little film.

I was entertained enough to give this 4 out of 10. It's a B movie but not a totally bad one, and maybe I am getting more lenient lately due to having nothing else to watch.

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