“Official? Who do you think you are? The only thing official you’ve ever done is lick stamps! Now get off my place!” That should get rid of Otis P. Hazelrigg, right? Join your faithful Grue-Crew – Crystal Cleveland, Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr – as they watch a misguided band of vigilantes get their just deserts in Frank De Felitta’s Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981).
Decades of Horror 1980s
Episode 183 – Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
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In a small Southern town, a wrongfully killed man exacts revenge from beyond the grave on those who murdered him.IMDb
- Director: Frank De Felitta
- Writers: J.D. Feigelson (teleplay) (story), Butler Handcock (story)
- Charles Durning as Otis P. Hazelrigg
- Robert F. Lyons as Skeeter Norris
- Claude Earl Jones as Philby
- Lane Smith as Harliss Hocker
- Tonya Crowe as Marylee Williams
- Larry Drake as Bubba Ritter
- Jocelyn Brando as Mrs. Ritter
- Tom Taylor as D.A. Sam Willock
- Richard McKenzie as Judge Henry
- Ivy Jones as Mrs. Willams
- James Tartan as Mr. Williams (as Jim Tartan)
- Ed Call as Defense Attorney
- Alice Nunn as Mrs. Bunch
- John Steadman as Mr. Loomis
- Ivy Bethune as Mrs. Hocker
- Dennis Robertson as Ray
- Jetta Scelza as Mrs. Whimberly
- Robert J. Koster as the Scarecrow (uncredited)
Jeff originally chose The Nest (1987) for this episode but it was not to be. Instead, based on recommendations from several Grue-Believers, he opted for Dark Night of the Scarecrow, a Halloween TV movie directed by Frank De Felitta. Unfortunately, Crystal did not get the message about the movie switch because Jeff neglected to correct the Grue-Crew’s calendar. Doh! Even so, she contributes with questions about Dark Night of the Scarecrow’s story and comments on the excellent cast in this film.
The music is perfect, according to Jeff, and though there isn’t much for onscreen gore, the implied violence in Dark Night of the Scarecrow is chilling. In fact, he watched the film three times and liked it better each time. Bill instantly got into it, calling it his favorite horror-related TV-movie (after The Nightstalker (1972), of course), and he crows about the beautiful print resulting from the restoration for the Blu-ray edition. Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a happy surprise for Bill and he highly recommends it. The only one of the Grue-Crew who saw Dark Night of the Scarecrow when it first ran on TV is Chad and he compares it to an extended episode of Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996). This time around, he reveled in the darker undertones he didn’t pick up as a kid and loves the ambiguous conclusion. Chad, Bill, and Jeff all loved the direct cut from the woodchipper to Large Marge (actually Alice Nunn as Mrs. Bunch) dropping a large dollop of red jam onto a white plate.
Your Decades of Horror 1970s Grue-Crew highly recommends Dark Night of the Scarecrow. The film is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime and on physical media as a Blu-ray from VCI Video.
Every two weeks, Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror 1980s podcast will cover another horror film from the 1980s. The next episode’s film, chosen by Bill will be Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat (1981). You won’t want to miss that one!
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