Tuesday, November 9, 2010

William Wesley's "Scarecrows".

c. David Grim (taken 10/23/10)*

Lately I've been starting to catch up on the huge backlog of DVD's I bought over the years and never took the time to watch. Several different factors have led to this eventuality. Over the past year I have become extremely conscious of money, and I'm just not buying movies (and other pop culture detritus) with the same easygoing manner that I used to have. Usually I make a couple of bulk purchases from Amazon every year, but I didn't do it this year. Additionally, a lot of the video rental outlets that used to put interesting stuff on their pre-viewed shelves have since closed. And that's a shame.

But I have had fun seeing some of the stuff I have been saving for a "rainy day". I've been going through the whole run of McSweeney's DVD magazine of shorts entitled Wholphin. My friend and I will get together and I'll pop in the disc with no idea about what we'll be seeing. the accompanying hint of being on a voyage of discovery is fun. I'd recommend the series without reservations, especially since all of the volumes are still readily available at reasonable prices.

The season has also prompted me to watch a horror film I've been sitting on for awhile. "Scarecrows" was made in 1988 by William Wesley- a man who has made exactly two feature films over his career. It involves a group of bank robbers in paramilitary gear who hijack a plane and then parachute into a rural area once one of their number attempts a betrayal. they spend a lot of time hovering around a mysterious backwoods house that has been 'abandoned', and running around a spooky cornfield while trying to catch up with their erstwhile colleague. Obviously there are a number of scarecrows placed haphazardly throughout the landscape.

"Scarecrows" definitely has quite a bit of cheese to choke on. The acting is pretty bad, the writing is disjointed and often sophomoric, and the editing leaves a lot to be desired. The atmosphere, much commented upon in the Amazon reviews I initially read about the movie, was actually sort of tainted by poor lighting and the sense that the actors were running around a remarkably small set. Yet there was still something about this flick that kept me from being pissed for having eagerly awaited its release on the DVD format, and spending the 80 minutes (or so) to actually watch it.

I'm not exactly sure how to characterize Wesley's intention. There is more than a little suggestion of ol' fire-and-brimstone Christianity in this script, and in the visual symbolism. The Golgotha-like placement of the crosses that hold the scarecrows is a bit ham-handed, but it makes the viewer suspect there is a bit more concept in all of this than in your typical 80's slasher. Some folks might be put off by the lack of concrete answers and explanation for the odd events that occur throughout, as well as the complete evasion of any attempt to explore an origination story for the monsters. But others will simply marvel at the cheap special effects that somehow give the impression that the filmmakers want to make you shrink away in disgust.

* Not that I ever feel particularly compelled to draw a strong connection between the posts and the images here... but today they share very little in common.

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