Dark Harvest 3: Skarecrow (DVD)

Dark Harvest 3: Skarecrow DVDStarring Clay Brocker, Regan Richards, Neil Derington, Brooke Cantrell, Lee “Sporty” Jones, Jim O’Rear, Rodman Rodman

Directed by Ben Dixon

Distributed by Lionsgate

Once again the fine folks at Lionsgate have purchased somebody’s home movie masquerading as a feature film, retitled it, and slapped some eye-catching artwork on the DVD case with plans to unleash it upon an unsuspecting public. I’ve never actually seen either of the previous installments in the Dark Harvest franchise, although I have heard that the original is atrocious and its unrelated sequel is even worse. If so, then this latest name-only sequel lives up to its franchise’s pedigree and possibly even tops its predecessors in the unwatchability department. I can’t think of a single nice thing to say about Dark Harvest 3: Skarecrow other than were a few fleeting moments where the bad acting was so off-the-charts bad that it was mildly amusing.

The movie starts in the backwoods of Tennessee in 1921. We first see a scary old witch lady (clearly someone in some sort of rubber mask) doing something to a fake looking zombie corpse whatchamathingy – I’ve no friggin’ clue what it was supposed to be other than something that should be on display at your local Knights of Columbus haunted house this Halloween. The witch lady then heads outside to put up some shoddy looking scarecrow. Next thing you know its daylight. A bunch of rednecks are doing something out in the woods when a cop shows up to arrest them for whatever they did. The arrest goes bad, and the rednecks proceed to decapitate a mannequin dressed like the cop. The opening credits then begin rolling. I’m already bored and confused – mostly bored.

It’s still Tennessee, but now the year is 1981. Why is the movie set in 1981? Hey, why not? We’re introduced to six people – three male/female couples – that get together once a year. If you think you’ve seen slasher movies that skimp on character development then wait until you see this. First names are about all there is. This year they’re headed off to cabin built on land that’s been owned by the Brett character’s family for about 60 years (Hint… Hint…).

Once at the cabin they proceed to do nothing. Absolutely nothing! Brett and his gal Ally do stumble upon that scarecrow, get into an argument that leads to him slapping her, and she reacts by overacting to such a degree that if Susan Lucci ever went this overboard with the dramatics someone on the set of All My Children would have to put her down with a tranquilizer gun. All of the acting in this movie falls into one of two categories: bad non-acting and bad overacting.

Oh, I forgot to mention that on their way to the cabin they came upon a scary old blind man that gave them an ominous warning of doom to come. I realize this movie was made for table scraps but the obvious latex make-up job on this allegedly old man is worthy of a spit take.

I’m thinking they blew their entire budget on one particular disemboweling scene and a completely obligatory circle of fire effect because, otherwise, the make-up and production values for this thing do indeed have a do-it-yourself Halloween spookhouse flavor to them. Heck, the killer scarecrow costume isn’t even really a costume. The scarecrow’s just a guy in pair of blue jeans, a long brown shirt, some work gloves, and a scarecrow hood.

So that scarecrow, which has apparently just been standing out there in this field for 60 years waiting for the right opportunity to come to life and begin killing people at random, suddenly comes to life and begins killing people at random. To be fair, it isn’t completely at random. We’ll come to learn there’s a curse involved. Come to think of it, the kills really do have a randomness to them. When not killing people, the scarecrow does random acts of whatever while characters we don’t give a damn about overact in panic over the whereabouts of other characters we don’t care about. This is one of those movies where people call out other people’s name an awful lot.

Things take a very brief turn about an hour in when Brett runs to a neighboring home only to discover its populated a couple rejects from a community theater production of The Devil’s Rejects led by that crazy old blind man with the latex face. For one brief shining moment I actually thought something, anything, interesting might be about to happen, but, alas; this subplot is introduced and discarded in mere moments with little or no rhyme or reason to it. And then all of a sudden, for even more inexplicable reasoning, Brett himself goes completely insane.

Terrible acting, a nothing of a story, unimpressive kills, laughable make-up effects, bad editing, small town haunted house production values, and several scenes early would have two characters in the same shot but the sounds of their voices were wildly uneven to the point of one of them being virtually inaudible. Dark Harvest 3: Skarecrow is a total amateur hour. Well, technically, it’s a total hour and eleven minutes, although it felt infinitely longer than 71 minutes.

Just how pathetic is Dark Harvest 3: Skarecrow? There’ a scene not long after they arrive at the cabin where the lights go out. First of all, everyone immediately begins shrieking in terror over the lights going out in far too freaked out a manner given there had yet to be any sort of tension built up or menace to them at this time. Worst of all, the accompanying crash on the soundtrack designed to elicit a cheap jump scare was a full two seconds too late. The people that made this thing couldn’t even time the loud noise to precisely the moment of the lights go out. Pathetic.

Look, I’m sure everyone making this movie had a blast doing so but that doesn’t mean this abysmal, amateurish production ever deserved to see the light of day. It damn sure didn’t deserve to get picked up by a company like Lionsgate and given a wide DVD release.

There’s only one reason anyone should ever watch Dark Harvest 3: Skarecrow — you hate yourself.

Special Features
Trailers for movies which could not possibly be worse than this.

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Jon Condit

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