It’s not a shock that my 2003 film Rise of the Scarecrows has made it onto so many of the “Worst Movies Ever” lists or the “Best/Worst Movies Ever” lists.
In 2001, I had made my first feature, Evil Awakening, and up until that point I had been producing skits with my pals. I worked at a video store and had the idea that a feature would be something that I could potentially get into a video store or at least sneak it on the shelf at the one that I was working at.
After my homage to Friday the 13th with my first film, I wanted to make a scarecrow film and wrote Rise of the Scarecrows. Unfortunately, it was the most problematic film I’ve ever worked on. At the time, I was using friends and even friends of friends and I don’t think many of them took it very seriously at all. I began filming and was taking out material and dialogue because nobody knew their lines and I was trying to get through it. I was much younger and had no idea how to run the show.
At times, I was certain that the film would not be completed because of the people dropping out and other matters complicating it. There were mistakes made that I attribute to my youth and inexperience, including the creation of characters forced into the story that muddled it a bit. I used to always say “trust me, the screenplay and story was much more solid,” and I’ll still contend that, but people don’t want to hear excuses and I’m not sure the film would have been better received if it had gone according to plan.
It would take about five years to get my first distribution deal with Tempe Video and it became a double-edged sword. It sold incredibly well and a lot of people saw it and that came with a lot of feedback, which actually helped me. Some of it was very amusing. I still get emails about the scarecrows being too fat, but I have a valid excuse. I told my buddy to get me big skinny guys to be the scarecrows and when he brought them over, they were all fat. They had that smile on their face that I couldn’t say no to and I handed them the burlap mask and tried to shoot them in a way to where they didn’t appear as fat. Damn, they appeared totally fat. I concede that. I hope this stops the emails concerning this topic. I consider the matter closed.
Another point that is brought up is the amount of negative characters. In the original story, the four guys that went to the woods were supposed to team up with more positive townies to defeat the scarecrows, but I had to improvise. One actor that didn’t show up that often had to be written out during production, another disappeared and there were others that didn’t prepare at all. In the end, I think the tone of the film reflected where my mind was at the time.
I knew it wasn’t going to win points on production value. So, I wanted it to be in your face and raw and over the top. It didn’t go over as well as it probably should have. Yet, I’d learned a great deal from Rise of the Scarecrows and the experience and I think that it’s evident in my follow-up films: Family Secret, Scary Tales, Sickle and Scary Tales: Last Stop. Despite its shortcomings, Rise of the Scarecrows has a special place in my heart and I get a lot of positive emails, even now.
It was re-released recently and it’s doing well again and I’m happy that it has led to a great opportunity to make Rise of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth, which has a budget, will have good production value and will hopefully earn forgiveness from those that hate me and my films and maintain the love from those that dig my work.
Rise of the Scarecrows: Hell on Earth will not have fat scarecrows. You have my word. It’s being produced by Cinema Epoch and is an official sequel but I think that most people will dig where I’m going with it. We have released the concept trailer and it has gone over very well and has brought more attention to the original.
I want to thank anyone that has watched my films. A film I wrote called Exorcism of the 7th Demon that premieres on the big screen this weekend and I’m currently planning on bringing back the scarecrows again whether you like it or not. I think that you’ll like it this time.
Geno McGahee, MOV!ES and MAN!A © 2017