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Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Scream Factory
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
William Wesley
Ted Vernon
Victoria Christian
David James Campbell
Michael David Simms
Bottom Line: 

While big budget sci-fi/horror/action hybrids like Aliens and Predator were setting box-office records, copycat productions by low-budget outfits came in hard and heavy, with several b-grade offerings thrust upon consumers in both multiplexes and video stores. Many of these films promised big action and big scares, trading in terrified teens for badass soldier types, and pitting them against extraterrestrial or supernatural forces, often with underwhelming (and hilarious) results. One of the more curious offerings dishing out this particular recipe has to be William Wesley’s 1988 ultra-cheapie, Scarecrows, which now comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory.

Scarecrows opens with a five-man crew of criminal/mercenary types fleeing Camp Pendleton after a $3 million dollar heist. The group, led by ice-cool Corbin (Ted Vernon, who is also the film’s Executive Producer), has kidnapped pilot Al (David Campbell) and his daughter, Kellie (Victoria Christian), forcing them to fly them south of the border, when one of their number, a shifty fellow named Bert (B.J. Turner) decides to bail out of the plane with their loot in tow.  The rogue team member lands in a rural cornfield where he finds a rusted old pickup truck, and loads up his cash for the getaway, but he doesn’t get far as this old farmstead holds a deadly secret. Meanwhile, Corbin forces Al to land the plane, and the group backtracks to Bert’s drop site, where they soon find themselves trapped in an abandoned farmhouse, fending off killer scarecrows hellbent on adding them to their number.

Scarecrows is a fun little b-movie despite its obvious shortcomings. I mean, basically the plot is “Aliens in a cornfield”, but, instead of jaw-dropping special effects, breathtaking action, and Sigourney Weaver, we get stock footage of a plane, hilariously bad dialogue, and a bunch of really terrible actors dressed like a middle-aged Ratt cover band. And corn. Lots and lots of corn. Still, it all comes together nicely after the extremely slow-moving first act, and that’s thanks mostly to Peter Deming’s excellent and atmospheric cinematography, and the makeup FX work of Norman Cabrera.

Scream Factory presents Scarecrows on Blu-ray in a very flattering 1.85:1 1080p transfer that looks quite a bit better than the MGM DVD release from some years back. Here the image is much sharper and more defined, with vivid colors and lots of fine detail not evident on its SD counterpart. Blacks are also better managed, which is doubly important in a low-budget film where all of the action takes place at night or in shadowy interiors. The picture is complimented by a very robust 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track, as well as a slightly less pronounced 2.0 DTS HD stereo track.

Bonus features are quite impressive for a non-Collector’s Edition release from the Factory, and include a pair of feature length commentary tracks – the first with Wesley and Producer, Cami Winikoff, and the second a moderated track with Deming, co-writer Richard Jefferies, and composer, Terry Plumeri.

Featurettes include The Last Straw with Norman Cabrera (HD), which is an informative piece on the makeup work done in the film, and Cornfield Commando (HD), which offers a sitdown with Corbin, himself, Ted Vernon.  

Rounding out the bonus features are a stills gallery (HD), storyboards (HD), and the film’s trailer (HD).

With a plot that could be (and probably was) written on a cocktail napkin, amateurish acting, and a script chockfull of groan-inducing dialogue, Scarecrows won’t appeal to everyone, but fans of goofy 80s action flicks and horror fans who value shock over substance will definitely have a good time with it. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray presentation is excellent, and the amount of bonus features assembled for this obscure little flick is quite impressive. This is a set that’s sure to please Scarecrows’ growing cult-following, and yet another feather in Scream Factory’s blood soaked cap. 

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