pparently scarecrows are the new Inbred Rednecks to low-budget horror
filmmakers. Aside from Paul Moore's "Dark Harvest", about killer
scarecrows that come back from the dead seeking revenge, we also had the South
And then there's "Scarecrow
Slayer", about a teen that dies and returns from the dead for revenge.
I suppose possessed scarecrows are preferable to Inbred Rednecks; after all, you
can only stand so many clichés before they become unbearable. And the Inbred
Rednecks of low-budget horror films have been tedious going on 10 years now.
Our horror opus opens during the Depression, which is
surprisingly the best shot sequence in the entire movie. Alas, it only lasts for
about 8 minutes. While in the past we meet a farmer who, despite the fact that
his neighbors can't grow a thing because of the massive drought, nevertheless
has a plentiful harvest. Turns out the farmer has been killing and using people
as scarecrows in order to achieve this miraculous harvest. Flash-forward to the
present, where Sean (Don Digiulio) learns that he's inherited a farm from the
family he never knew, of which he's the last survivor.
Although Sean is hesitant to stir up memories, his girlfriend Jess (Jessica
Dunphy) convinces him to take a trip to the farm. As all teens that have
inherited out-of-the-way farms from a family they never knew existed are wont to
do, Sean brings along a band of victims -- er, friends. The friends are, of
course, a mixed brood, including a Token Black Guy and two lesbians; also, I
think one of the girls is British. Along the way, they encounter an Old Guy Who
Knows Stuff, who, like all Old Guys Who Knows Stuff, warns them off the farm.
Are you starting to get the idea that writer/director Paul
Moore doesn't have the slightest interest in being even a teeny bitty original?
While the friends are only concern with having fun at the decrepit farm, Sean
unearths his family's sordid past, as well as bringing to life a couple of
ticked off scarecrows looking for some payback from what's left of the family
line -- namely Sean. Although to be fair, Moore does through a wrinkle at genre
fans -- instead of just one Old Guy Who Knows Stuff, Moore gives us two! I tell
ya, ol' Paul sure is a genre innovator.
The script is appropriately hackneyed, with more than a
couple of cheesy lines and head-scratching moments. At one point, our characters
are awakened in the morning by roosters, but our (supposedly) college educated
kids don't know what a rooster is. One of them even calls the rooster a
raven. Folks, you can't make this stuff up. The only gratuitous nudity is a
scene at a lake where characters strip down and jump in. There is also some
kissing by the two lesbians, but for the most part the film seems inclined to
talk about its T&A rather than actually showing it.
For a film that barely runs 75 minutes, "Dark Harvest" spends an
exorbitant amount of time engaging in poorly written comedy banter. It's not
until the 50-minute mark that someone finally gets run through with a scythe.
When the killing starts, "Dark Harvest" does earn its pay -- in a
cheesy, low-budget sort of way. In any case, the characters basically run back
and forth between the cornfield, the main house, and the barn. And the
scarecrows have apparently come back from the grave with the ability to growl
like either bears or lions, although it's curious that these undead blokes can't
fight a lick. Seriously -- one of the lesbians could have taken these guys on
The best thing about "Dark Harvest" has to be the
ending credits, where the filmmakers include choice blooper reels from the
production. Although there was never any doubt that the film is low budget, it's
still a riot to see the filmmakers struggle with the simplest movie gags, such
as getting a book of matches to light on cue. Of course the behind-the-scenes
reel is only there because the film itself is so short. Then again, who wants to
see a padded out "Dark Harvest"? Perish the thought.
But seriously, folks, no matter how low budget your movie
is, there is simply no excuse for misspelling the name of your own state in the
film's opening legend.