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JBB Featured Contributor

The Last Drive-In | Season 5, Week 7: The Dark Night of the Scarecrow and Beyond the Door III

The rural horror double feature of last week’s holiday visit to the Last Drive-In nearly had two four-star flicks.

One had been unlikely sourced from the dusty realm of early 1980s broadcast TV, yet still retained a surprising air of menace and some outstanding performances even under the constraints of the more strict standards and practices for over the air broadcast.

Larry Drake, though in The Dark Night of the Scarecrow for about 10 minutes, stole the show to start with his performance as innocent and misunderstood Bubba. The specter of his performance set the tone. And then Charles Durning’s portrayal of Otis, the most authoritarian postal worker in the world, carried the flick the rest of the way.

The comeuppance that he and the rest of the incensed execution squad received was well-deserved and the flick goes to show that made-for-TV doesn’t necessarily mean not scary.

The second feature was birthed from the disparate combination of having an Italian producer, an American director making his debut, being shot in the Balkans and starring a Swede as the marquee draw.

Beyond the Door III would have had a much more accurate title had producer Ovidio Assonitis stuck with the original title, Amok Train, especially when the choo-choo went cuckoo and starting killing its crew-crew.

But the fact that rookie director Jeff Kwitny was just trying to survive the experience led to a patchy film that nobody (probably not even him) knew what would be happening next. The disjointed nature of it cost it a half-star, according to JBB.

But it did give us some of the most memorable Drive-In Totals in recent memory as seen below. Plus, let’s not forget the importance of “hot soup” to the Balkans’ diet. If you go there, you have to have the hot soup. They insist.

We’re coming into the home stretch with three weeks left in Season Five.

Next up — a first for the crew when Animation Night comes to pass. But it’ll probably be a bit more traumatic than just seeing a coyote repeatedly plummeting off a cliff.

Just a hunch…

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