A homage to the slasher films of the 1980s with a few twists and turns. A body is found inside the walls of an old Iowa theater in a hidden sealed room. Now in an assisted-living facility, Kelly’s grandfather has been harboring a secret from his childhood past for all these years. A forgotten small town deserted since the 1930s, buried in the thick woods of rural Iowa. The old, dilapitated church still boarded up after all this time and inside still remains the Reverend Joshua Miller where he was last left by the towns people – lashed to the church’s old wooden cross. His body mumified from decades of intense, dry heat and intertwined with old, dried cornstalks that have grown up through the rotting floor. The townspeople long gone to their graves thinking that the evil that took over Reverend Miller and caused them to turn against the town’s founder was dead too. But evil never dies. It simply waits for it’s time to be resurrected again.
I loved the premise of Valley of the Scarecrow. The Iowa setting was different than most stories and I loved the back history of what happened in Miller’s Grove in the 1930s. It gave the slasher story a unique place to grow from. Thats a hard thing to do from a tired horror genre. Rollo weaves the interestiing characters and events from the past into the present day storyline. He succeeds for the most part, but still falls in some of the traps that make the slasher scene a worn out one. You have the group of college age kids – the oversexed boyfriend and girlfriend, the awkward artistic type, the slutty bimbo, the token black guy, and the normal, all-american girl that you know is going to survive until the end. The other thing that kept sticking out like a sore thumb is that Rollo kept having his midwestern characters say the word Bloody all the time – bloody hell, I can’t see a bloody thing, it might be worth a bloody fortune, etc. I’m from the midwest and I’ve been to Iowa. I have yet to run across any native Iowan that says the word bloody to describe anything that doesn’t have blood running down it. Also, a couple of the characters come across a stash of Agent Orange that their dad happened to have stockpiled. OK, I needed this to be a little more fleshed out. Where the hell would he get a banned military defoliant that was never legal to use in the states? It would be like pulling a fully operational tank out of the barn without explaining how they got their hands on it. But other than that, the story was rather enjoyable. If you can overlook a few of the flaws, there are enough creepy moments to make it worth the read. Rollo does a good job at wrapping the material he has all together.
3 1/2 dessicated scarecrows out of 5
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