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Scarecrows (Blu-ray Review)

ScarecrowsTrespassers will be violated. Scream Factory proudly presents the action-packed supernatural thriller Scarecrows. Making its Blu-ray debut, this release comes packed with new bonus features, including audio commentaries with director William Wesley and producer Cami Winikoff, and interviews with special make-up effects creator Norman Cabrera and actor Ted Vernon.  This is a sort of horror/slasher/horror-action film that I’d really never heard of.  It comes from a fabled year in horror; 1988.  So, of course I was pretty eager to tear off the plastic and dig into this, seeing what I had been missing out on all these years.  Like many, it has a nice following and set of fans, but would I wind up one of them.

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Film 

After a band of ex-military criminals pulls off a multi-million dollar heist, they hop aboard a plane headed for Mexico. But when one of their own betrays them, they suddenly find themselves on the ground and on the run through a field of scarecrows near an abandoned farmhouse. And as night sets in, the real nightmare begins. The men discover that there’s a reason the farmhouse is empty… and now those who thought they were the hunters are being hunted by an unimaginable and malevolent force!

I’d never heard of this movie before reviewing this Blu-ray.  Maybe the title passed by me, and maybe it didn’t.  There are good number of vintage horror films utilizing scarecrows either in content or in the title.  And their VHS box art all relatively would probably have blended together in my head.  I kept from reading the plot synopsis/description on it as to go in as blind as I could for some extra fun.

Holy crap, this movie was really cool.  It reminded me a lot of Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers (Coming later in June from Scream Factory finally!!!) with what it was doing.  I liked the idea of mish mashing some genres together.  This is basically an action film running into a monster/slasher film head on.  There’s a nice MacGuffin to drive some things and tough personalities abound.  And what we get is a lot of fun.

What I like about this movie is how it strays away from being super complex or worrying about overexplaining things and just “is”.  It knows its action/horror and that’s where its going to focus on excelling.  Suspense, action and gore are the priorities.  I must say, the makeup and effects look super groovy in this movie.  There are many awesome moments, effectively edited, that hold up quite beautifully.  Many painful sequences are brought on by the creepy ass looking scarecrows haunting the frames of the film.

I’ve found myself a new little cult film that’s pretty badass.  None of these characters are really anyone to “root” for, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fun to watch.  These characters are a bout 5-6 too soon, to wear they’d be the types that would be focused on and written better.  Instead we get this littel B-movie with A-grade special effects.  The action and set pieces in this movie really work and its fun-spirited attitude make this a pure joy to watch for fans of B-action and horror movies alike.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  Personally, I think this image more than does the trick and is likely the best this movie has or could ever look.  Detail is pretty high as uniform fabrics, smudges on guns and scratches on surfaces become apparent in some shots.  There are some really impressive moments, but for the most part, its just a normal Scream Factory satisfying image.

Depth:  Some average depth work.  There are some good moments of people and objects looking loose and free in their environments.  Movements are for the most part pretty loose and free wandering.

Black Levels:  Blacks are pretty rich.  This takes place at nighttime for the duration, but this track does a decent job of shading and crushing is very minimal.

Color Reproduction:  This film takes place primarily at nighttime and deals in pretty much camouflage coloring.  Greens do come across pretty solid.  Red is the star though, as all the blood looks rich and delicious.

Flesh Tones:  Skin appears natural and has a consistency throughout the feature.  The more static the shot, the stronger detail like stubble, wrinkles, scars and scratches appear.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some mild noise in a couple areas.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The 5.1 track is pretty solid and makes for a fun time.  Effects sound surprisingly well defined and dynamic here given the source.  Vocals, score and effects are all loose and woven together nicely in the mix.  This rock solid track more than does the trick and keep the viewer engaged.

Low Frequency Extension: Gunfire, thumping and jump scares all get some sweet LFE action. The subwoofer manages to connect in all the right places.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The rear channels are pretty much used for some wonderfully creepy country nighttime ambiance.  Front channels move around back and forth and have some good volume and pitch placement to bring the action right in front of you.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, clean and more center focused.

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Extras 

Scarecrows features reversible cover artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director William Wesley and Producer Cami Winikoff
  • With Co-Screenwriter Richard Jefferies, DP Peter Deming and Composer Terry Plumeri

The Last Straw, with Norman Cabrera (HD, 16:35) – The man behind the film’s effects discusses making something special on a shoestring budget, and its legacy of how he’s still approached and praised for it today.

Cornfield Commando, with Ted Vernon (HD, 8:46) – The actor looks back at his time on the film and boasts a bit about his career.  Also notes that it was his dog in the movie.

Original Storyboards (HD, 3:48) – Plays as a montage/slideshow set to the score

Still Gallery – 60 images of promotional shots, behind the scenes pictures and special effects pics.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:32)

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Summary 

Well, consider me now a fan.  I really enjoyed this little movie.  Such a cool little mish mash of genre and concept.  Its also got terrific effects to boot.  There’s a lot of fun, jumps and blood to be shed in this movie.  The presentation from Scream Factory is par for the course on their releases, which for me is good news.  The extras pump out a lot of info, that while it doesn’t label a Collector’s Edition, it might as well be.  This one gets an easy recommend from me and a definitely blind buy if you’ve never seen it before.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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