It’s pretty telling that all three films in this “series” came out in the same year. In other words, the films were distributed and renamed to create the sense of a worthy first film deserving of sequels…
DARK HARVEST (2004)
The opening of this film establishes a history and does a really nice job of looking like it was shot in the early 1970s.
Authorities discover a freaky farmer has real dead humans hanging up in his field as scarecrows.
In current times, a young man learns he is inheriting a farm from a family he never knew because he was adopted. So he takes his friends along to see the place. There’s some commentary on his attitude about being a privileged white dude, notably in contrast to him having a Black buddy and a lesbian couple as friends.
Anyway, they get to the rundown house, he meets a spooky lady who warns him about his family’s past, and eventually he begins to believe her.
However, the scarecrows don’t come to life until 50 minutes into the movie. Ouch. The most thrilling thing that happens before that is that the group goes skinny-dipping.
However, once the murderous scarecrow rampage begins, this is simple, early-2000s direct-to-DVD fun.
There’s lots of hack ‘n’ slash action as the kids run around the farm and the fields, and the scarecrows are fast runners with a classic creepy look.
THE MAIZE: DARK HARVEST 2 (2004)
The director of The Maize, which was retitled Dark Harvest 2 in hopes of name recognition by the distributors, is also the star.
This is not a killer scarecrow film, but it is a Halloween themed film that takes place in a haunted maze attraction, so it does get a spot on the holiday horror page.
I had high hopes for it due to the trick or treating opening scene, which definitely sets a seasonal tone.
This movie is grueling. I can’t fathom why the director/star didn’t try to save it as much as possible by extracting all the excess and trimming it down to about 70 minutes from 100 minutes.
By excess I mean endless twirling, moving footage of a cornfield as a man travels through it in search of his two daughters.
When you hack through all the corn stalks, the film comes down to this. This dude has psychic powers. He foresaw the deaths of two young girls like a year before. Now he’s seeing the death of his daughters in the cornfield.
He rushes there as the attraction is closing to find them, but they are lost in the maze. Both he and the girls spend the whole film going in circles through this cornfield. Occasionally they encounter ghosts of the two girls that died a year before.
We get to see a couple of jack-o’-lanterns, there are a couple of stray haunters in masks, and eventually…like, late in the film…there’s a maskless killer with a lead pipe. But believe me, this film is predominantly comprised of footage of cornstalks.
DARK HARVEST 3: SCARECROW (2004)
After the second film, it was impossible for me to not find some things to like about this final release anointed with the Dark Harvest name.
For starters, it’s only 72 minutes long. Awesome. It’s also about a killer scarecrow again. Double awesome.
It begins in black and white in 1921 with a witch bringing a scarecrow to life to kill off a family that is trying to steal her home from her. The witch is my favorite part, and we even get to see the footage of her again in full color during a hypnotic flashback.
In current times, a group of friends is heading to a cabin in the woods that happens to be the home of the old lady, and one of the guys in the group happens to be a distant relative of the family that tried to steal it from her. Why do I feel like I’ve been to this cabin many times before?
Sure it’s low budget, but it also has a gritty look to it, which helps create the perfect cabin in the woods atmosphere for a killer scarecrow to take care of business.
We get gratuitous tits, a cellar scene, the scarecrow doing some pretty nasty killing with practical effects, and even a totally out of place, random scene of a family of freaks in a house nearby.
The plot is silly and the characters forgettable. Just watch it for the scarecrow kills and the funny moment when one girl channels the old witch to tell the main guy he’s getting what he deserves…right before the scarecrow kills her instead. So much for loyalty.