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For centuries scarecrows have been used to protect fields from unwanted pests. Though a scarecrow’s effectiveness at scaring away crows and certain other birds can’t compete with more modern methods of deterrent, the straw-stuffed effigies are embedded in our culture as an effective symbol. Scarecrows symbolize farms, harvests, and autumn. They also have darker associations including loneliness, fear, and death. For these reasons the scarecrow has become increasingly associated with horror films over time. Presented here is a collection of the best, strangest, and most interesting movies featuring scarecrows and scarecrow-like figures.
The 15 Best Scarecrow Horror Movies
Dark Night of the Scarecrow is the movie that established and popularized the image of a killer scarecrow in movies. The story is about a man accused of a crime he didn’t commit. The man tries to hide from vigilantes by pretending to be a scarecrow, but after he is killed, the people involved in his death also start dying. Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a cult classic that established enough of a fan base over the years to earn itself a sequel released in 2022.
This odd action-horror hybrid is worth watching for the premise alone. A group criminals trying to escape to Mexico via airplane with two hostages and millions of dollars is double-crossed by one of their own. One of the criminals parachutes out of the plane with the money, prompting the rest to follow him into a field filled with killer scarecrows. Campy? Yes. Low-budget? Sure. And it’s also surprisingly good in a weird way.
Jack-O is a Halloween movie with a scarecrow as its monster. Set around October 31st, Jack-O is about a creature conjured up years ago by dying a warlock in an attempt to get revenge on the family responsible for the warlock’s death. The jack-o-lantern-headed entity was buried and became a local legend, but years later some irresponsible teens awaken Jack-O. Now the creature is intent on killing everyone in its path as it tries to find the descendants of its master’s killers. The best part of Jack-O is an appearance from b-movie scream queen Linnea Quigley, but the rest of the movie is fun too.
A search for her missing brother leads Kaoru to a small village with some some unnerving local customs involving scarecrows. Kakashi might not be as bizarre as other movies based on Junji Ito’s work like Uzumaki (2000), but it has a nicely creepy atmosphere and a great payoff in the end.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a movie featuring an undead scarecrow who does front flips and spin kicks, Scarecrow is the movie for you. Scarecrow is a horror comedy about a young man, Lester, who is murdered in a cornfield, and his vengeful spirit inhabits a nearby scarecrow. This killer scarecrow is a wise-cracking maniac hell-bent on getting revenge on anyone and everyone who has done Lester wrong. It’s a silly movie, but it’s good fun.
Slash is a slasher movie somewhat typical of the aesthetic of mid-budget horror from the early 2000s. Which is to say, it’s a good fit for the right audience. It is about the members of a rock band called Slash who wind up stranded on a farm. The farm is in the hometown of one of the band’s members, and the town has a tradition involving a harvest of blood. Soon, the band members are hunted by a killer scarecrow.
Liz (Jaimie Alexander) is stranded in a small town with a terrible past. The town has a history of human sacrifice in which people were dressed as scarecrows, nailed to a cross, and left to die as their screams scared away the crows believed to be sent by the Devil. Now Liz has arrived just in time for the resurrection of the demented priest who started the sacrifices more than a century ago. Hallowed Ground is light horror fun best watched late at night. Also, for fans of Chloe Grace Moretz, she co-stars in the movie in one of her earliest roles at about the age of ten.
A down-on-his-luck farmer finds a scarecrow in his barn. His fortunes begin to turn around with the scarecrow in place, but with the good comes a killer scarecrow. Messengers 2: The Scarecrow is about as cheesy as it sounds, but for a straight-to-DVD release from 2009, it’s not bad. Plus, the movie stars Normas Reedus, so that alone makes it worth watching.
Husk is a well-made indie horror movie that is sufficiently spooky and has some really interesting scarecrow monsters. The story begins with five people stranded on an isolated road when a murder of crows flies into the windshield of their car. The group ventures into a nearby cornfield to look for help (and to find their friend who has gone missing), only to discover killer scarecrows and a vengeful spirit.
The Redwood Massacre is a good low-budget slasher movie that contains all the necessary elements for a classically-inspired slasher: a camping trip, a dark campfire tale, a good amount of gore, and a killer in a mask. The story is very simple, and it involves a group of campers spending a night in the woods where a horrific murder supposedly took place. When morning arrives, most of the group are missing, and the killing begins.
Dawn of the Scarecrow is weird. A meteorite squirts blue goo onto a man whose skin melts, prompting him to put on the clothes and mask of a scarecrow and murder people. Dawn of the Scarecrow is strange and gross, and the execution is campy enough to make it a blast of a time. For example, the scarecrow, oozing various brightly-colored fluids from his body, murders a woman taking a shower by jamming a toilet brush down her throat… and that scene is meant to be a trash-cinema tribute to Psycho. It’s bizarre.
Scarecrows takes its time getting to the good stuff, but once it does, it’s pretty good. The movie is about a quartet of friends taking a trip to a secluded lagoon. Their car is stolen, and their search for help leads them to trespassing on a farmer’s land, a farmer who enjoys turning people into living scarecrows in his cornfield. If you’re a fan of low-budget horror with enough patience to get through a lot of setup, Scarecrows has some really nice moments late in its run time.
If you read the book Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones (1991) when you were young, there’s a good chance the terrifying image of Harold the scarecrow is seared into your mind. The movie adaptation of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books recreates Harold in disturbing fashion. Even though Harold is only a small part of the movie and his actions aren’t quite as disturbing as what is described in the book, this killer scarecrow still makes a huge impact in live-action.
Redwood Massacre: Annihilation is a sequel that tries to create something new that spins off from lore of the original. A man is obsessed with the scarecrow-masked killer from the Redwood murders, and he convinces a group of people to join him in a search for the killer. They discover an unexpected underground facility in the middle of the woods, and the Redwood murders begin again. The best part of Redwood Massacre: Annihilation isn’t the story though, it’s the inclusion of scream queen Danielle Harris who elevates the movie significantly.
The small, isolated town of Bastion, Illinois has a yearly Halloween tradition. Each year the supernatural creature known as Sawtooth Jack rises from the cornfields on the edge of town on a trek to the church in the town center. The teenage boys of Bastion compete in a “Run” during this time, fighting to be the boy who kills Sawtooth Jack before midnight, thereby ensuring a bountiful harvest. Sawtooth Jack appears to be a pumpkin-headed scarecrow come to life, but his true origin is a secret that could bring down the whole town if it’s discovered by the wrong person.
More Scarecrow Horror Movies
The scarecrow horror movies listed below rage from “pretty good” to “fairly awful.” Proceed with caution.
- Dark Harvest (1992) – This straight-to-video flick is unique in that it is a killer scarecrow movie not set in a cornfield, but instead takes place in a desert.
- Night of the Scarecrow (1995) – The vengeful spirit of a warlock possesses a scarecrow and goes on a rampage of revenge.
- Psycho Scarecrow (1996) – A shot-on-video cheapie about a supernatural scarecrow murdering people stranded near a cornfield, as told through an audio recording from one of the scarecrow’s victims.
- Dark Walker (2003) – A scarecrow-like monster wreaks gory havoc when it is awakened after a haunted house attraction is built on its land.
- Scarecrow Slayer (2003) – Tony Todd makes a cameo in this slasher movie about a college freshman who is killed and resurrects as a killer scarecrow.
- Scarecrow Gone Wild (2004) – A college student who dies in a hazing incident comes back to life as a vengeful scarecrow in this, the third movie in the Scarecrow trilogy that began in 2002.
- Dark Harvest (2004) – Scarecrows attack a group of friends staying in a farmhouse inherited by one of the members of the group.
- Skarecrow (2004) – Also released as Dark Harvest 3: Scarecrow and Skarecrow: A Curse Never Dies, this movie is about a family curse that is reawakened in modern times.
- Rise of the Scarecrows (2009) – This shot-on-video horror movie is for fans of no-budget schlock.
- Scarecrow (2013) – A Syfy Original Movie, Scarecrow stars Lacey Chabert in a story about an urban legend involving a killer scarecrow.
- Channel 13 (2015) – This is a shot-on-video anthology horror movie from around 1987, lost for decades, and discovered by director Mark Polonia. It’s a neat time capsule, and one of the segments features a killer scarecrow.
- Scareycrows (2016) – This horror comedy takes too long to get to the scarecrows, but once it does it’s a pretty okay.
- Return of the Scarecrow (2017) – A legendary scarecrow killer returns to kill again in this nicely shot but tonally odd low-budget horror comedy.
- Curse of the Scarecrow (2018) – A woman returns to her hometown and becomes the target of a vengeful scarecrow in this somewhat tedious low-budget effort.
- The Curse of Halloween Jack (2019) – A cult resurrects a killer who looks like a scarecrow in this cheesy Halloween slasher movie.
- Scarecrow’s Revenge (2019) – Quite possibly the only scarecrow movie set during the time of Viking’s, Scarecrow’s Revenge is a valiant effort that ends up being more interesting as an oddity than as a horror movie.
- American Scarecrow (2020) – This is a rough one. It’s about a group of people stalked by a killer “scarecrow” at a farmhouse. “Scarecrow” is in quotes because the killer is just a guy dressed in a military uniform and wearing a strange skull/burlap mask.
- Rise of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth (2021) – Though the visuals are a huge upgrade from Rise of the Scarecrows (2009), this sequel retains the schlocky appeal of the original.
- Amityville Scarecrow (2021) – Are you surprised there is an Amityville movie about scarecrows? You shouldn’t be. You also shouldn’t expect much from the movie.
- Amityville Scarecrow 2 (2022) – This is a direct sequel to Amityville Scarecrow, and it is slightly better.
- Dark Night of the Scarecrow 2 (2022) – This unnecessary 41-years-later followup is only loosely connected to the 1981 original, and it’s a bit slow.