There’s something innately creepy about scarecrows. I guess it’s the uncanny valley issue, and also the fact that they’re usually out in cornfields or other vast empty spaces that, thanks to horror films, now have an aura of menace about them because it’s now ingrained in our consciousness that there’s a chainsaw-wielding maniac or a bunch of creepy kids hanging out there. As a kid I even found something disturbing about Scarecrow in The Wizard Of Oz. He was and still is my favorite character—a lot of times I can really relate to the lack of a brain, but that’s another story—but the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion can defend themselves pretty well. Scarecrow can barely even stand up when Dorothy first helps him down, and it’s bad enough that the Wicked Witch threatens him with some fire. I’m pretty sure the part where he gets all his stuffing ripped out gave me nightmares.
And he’s the only cinematic scarecrow I can think of who’s actually friendly. There are so many others who aren’t: the one in Jeepers Creepers, the Batman Villain, the scarecrows in the Doctor Who two-parter Human Nature and Family of Blood, the scarecrow in The League Of Gentlemen who’s actually a guy who was caught sleeping with the farmer’s wife and who’s left tied up in a field by a pair of creepy twin girls who call him their “special friend”. Now that I think about it the British seem to have a real thing about scarecrows.
Then there’s the town of Sierra Madre, California, which has an annual scarecrow festival. There are more than a hundred entries this year and they are brilliant. Some are more traditional:
But there are also a lot of hilarious pop-culture inspired ones:
And some puns:
It would be really cool if where I lived had a scarecrow festival like this one. Surely we’ve got enough brains around here for that.
And also here’s this “high tech scarecrow” that can scare off pretty much anything.