It’s hard sometimes, trying to keep a secret. As far back as 2010, I’ve been writing on this blog my fandom of the 1981 made-for-television movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow. That original post caught the attention of the film’s writer, J.D. Feigelson, who reached out and encouraged me to meet him and members of the cast, including the late Larry Drake, in Louisville’s Fright Night Film Fest. J.D. and I stayed in touch and would go on to share my fervor for DNOTS in Scary Monsters Magazine and the book “Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks.” A few years later, J.D. invited me out to dinner during a visit to Chicago – and it was there that he dropped a bombshell. He revealed that he was secretly working on a sequel to DNOTS utilizing his own resources and local talent. Obviously, I could say nothing about it, but in the years that followed, he graciously kept me in the loop regarding its progress. Whenever I visited J.D. at his home down in Louisville, he’d proudly share his footage as well as the incredible props he created in his spare time. And finally, today, the fruit of his labor is available on Blu-ray and streaming. But before I saw a single frame of the movie, he revealed its basic story.
Chris Rhymer (Amber Wedding) goes into Witness Protection with her young son, Jeremy (Aiden Shurr). Originally from “back east somewhere,” the two are settled in a small, rural town; the same town where the events of the first film took place. Jeremy is bitter towards his mother for disrupting his life and dragging him somewhere he has no friends (at least not visible ones) save his caretaker, Mrs. Corvis (Carol Dines). Chris isn’t exactly happy to be there either and gets even less enthusiastic about it when the townspeople start getting murdered. She’s also concerned about her son’s growing devotion to Mrs. Corvis (whom he affectionately refers to as “Aunt Hildy”) and his invisible friend whose voice she’s also heard. As Chris desperately tries to repair her relationship with Jeremy, she begins to realize what one of the locals so eloquently states earlier in the story, “It ain’t a who it’s a what.”
I thought the story concept was excellent and far from a retread. The film’s secondary title is The Chasing Game (something mentioned at the end of the first movie) and gives this story a much different tone than the original’s hiding game. Yes, the supernatural elements are still there but secondary to the presence of Bubba, himself. Consequently, Bubba is visible throughout the film and at almost every slaying. This gives the movie an almost Slasheresque feel. Here, the mystery isn’t who is doing the killing but why? With the vengeful spirit of Bubba at rest for forty years, why would he suddenly return and cause harm to innocent people?
These questions are answered in the course of the story. Although I wouldn’t call this movie gory, it is bloodier than its made-for-TV counterpart. I commend J.D. . There’s plenty of new ground being covered with references to the original for an old DNOTS fanatic like me. Just keep in mind this film’s budget is considerably lower than the original; utilizing local actors and talent. It is probably best to go in with a fan film mentality, for optimum enjoyment.