Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
A group of rocking 80's ex-military commandos flee for Mexico in a hijacked plane with 3.5 million in loot. But when one of their own double crosses them, they find themselves in the middle of nowhere, near an old house in a field filled with creepy scarecrows. As they hunt the traitor, the soldiers and their hostages soon learn that these are no ordinary scarecrows.
Is it good movie?
Well split me open and fill me with straw! This movie was one of the ones I had always wanted to see as a teenager, but I could never find it. There were always stories of an uncut version of this film, which even the Arrow himself mentions in his review, and here on this MGM release we get the Unrated version (with the knife in the face scene and everything!) It is groovy to finally get to watch this cult classic on DVD in it's full uncut glory. It has been a rumor for years, with bootleg VHS transfers everywhere and even fetching some high prices from collectors online in auctions.
The story is a simple and effective one, and one of the biggest selling points is that the evil nature of the three scarecrows, and their origins, are never really explained. The havoc they bring down on these poor dumb soldiers is, however, very frighteningly done. Slitting them open, filling them with straw and their own stolen cash, and controlling them as the rage in some undead frenzy action, these scarecrows are some crafty bastards. We get some nasty wounds, a full colour beheading, gunshot wounds, a talking severed head, and one image that will be locked in my head for month. One of the final scenes has the most innocent of the soldiers, his lips stripped off and his blood soaked teeth grinning back at us under night vision goggles. Yep, freaked me right the f**k out. The gore is heavy and nicely done.
On the other side of this badass coin, the atmosphere in this baby is so hauntingly creepy that I probably won't be walking in any open and overgrown fields anytime soon. The flick looks great, especially after all that I had read and heard about the crappy VHS transfers that everybody was forced to watch for years. The HD Digital transfer here is gorgeous and the movie has never looked better. The whole look of the film is filtered in blue moonlight, and despite the small goofs of inserting day shots into a night story, the whole movie has a horribly creepy atmosphere and feel to it that adds to the tension as we watch these unexplained undead hillbillies dispatch the soldiers one by one.
The flick shows it's production date proudly, mostly in the hair and clothing styles for the two women in the film, and also in the very un-military behaviour and tactics of the soldiers. 1988 was the era of the Rambo sequels and lame Delta Force knockoffs. Damn, the grunts in Dog Soldiers and even in some of Uwe Boll's epic-crap movies were better organized and tighter as military units than these guys. But for all of that, the action is handles pretty well by director William Wesley. I'll say this though: the man certainly has an eye for creepy shots. We get some passable performances from Ted Vernon and Michael Simms , and even Richard Vidan as the lunkhead Jack and actress turned makeup artist Victoria Christian as the young hostage are very good (the latter being some nice eye candy to help the whole flick go down smooth...but those clothes are so painfully 80's).
All told, this is a gory, tension filled romp in the cornfield, with some seriously creepy effects and shots, and some excellent (if a little cheesy) performances from the main cast. It's great to see some of the mostly forgotten but highly sought after horror classics of the past twenty years get released on DVD finally. Here's to hoping the trend continues.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.85:1.
Audio: English and French (Dolby Surround) and Spanish (Dolby Stereo) with subtitles in English and Spanish.
None at all, and it's a damn shame. MGM should have dug up at least some bare bones features for such a classic cult horror flick.
Now that a clean and tasty DVD print of this Unrated monster is available from Amazon.com, you should see this movie. While not the pinnacle of horror entertainment, it is a wicked ghostly ride that is finally getting the attention it deserves. Now if only MGM would start slapping some features our way, the world would be a better and much scarier place. Despite the crap amount of effort put into this release, the digital transfer of such a cult classic is worth checking out. Trust me, as if you didn't need another reason for scarecrows to f**k with your mind, you'll be glad you let this grueling flick play in your head for days to come.