Celebrate International Independent Video Store Day in the spookiest autumn way! Beloved Seattle institution and nonprofit Scarecrow Video is getting into the spirit this Saturday, Oct. 16 with giveaways, sales, and a live stream of festivities. For our part, we thought we’d highlight the essential cultural preservation work Scarecrow does, and bring you some seasonally appropriate, cinematically spook-tacular film recommendations from one of its movie buff experts. If you’re ready, grab your favorite fall snack, dim the lights, and let’s boo-gin!
Scarecrow Video presents a diverse alternative to online streaming
Scarecrow has one of the largest publicly accessible video collections in the world. Executive Director Kate Barr and Marketing Director Matt Lynch say they see a huge lack of diversity in streaming services, and Scarecrow is the remedy. Their nearly 140,000 titles include many rare masterpieces and span 129 countries and 126 languages. The institution saw its rental-by-mail program jump from 40 to over 500 people during the pandemic, many from all over the country. They hope to expand that program and other services, and continue to preserve the diversity and cultural heritage in film for generations to come.
“Revenge” is sandy, sweaty, and savage
Let’s get down to it! Matt’s first Movie Minute is the sexy, gory, beautifully unhinged action flick: ”Revenge.” Written and directed by Coralie Fargeat, the 2017 film follows one woman’s journey into the desert with her married boyfriend and his less-than-perfect buddies. As you can imagine, it’s not exactly a mai tais-and-meditation type vacation. Matt says the last 30 minutes are some of the bloodiest he’s ever seen on screen; when the men abandon her to the desert elements, our protagonist takes revenge.
You’ve heard of “Snakes on a Plane,” now try pot on a plane! Wait. No. Not like that.
The original title of the 1977 film “In Hot Pursuit” was “Polk County Pot Plane,” which says a lot. This bizarre car-to-plane chase is based on a real wild-ride story. When drug dealers land a plane full of marijuana on a mountain in Georgia, police find themselves unable to move it. The only person who can get it done is a local politician who, according to Matt, “bought the plane, bought the land, enlarged the runway on the top of the mountain, and flew the plane off himself. Then he made a movie about it.” Incredible.
“Rain the Color of Blue with A Little Red In It” and the artist currently known as Mdou Moctar
There is no word for purple in the Tuareg language of Niger, but the creators behind this remake of Prince’s semi-autobiographical rock opera “Purple Rain” make it work. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it gets its inspiration from Prince, though, it’s one of a kind. The first-ever in the Tuareg language, the film follows musician Mdou Moctar as he and his blue-with-a-little-red-in-it motorbike travel the desert in search of fame.
Creepy crawly ant-ics abound in the scientific thriller ”Phase 4″
Super smart attack ants and a trippy re-cut ending? What’s not to love? Matt says the 1974 film “Phase 4” is one of his all-time favorites and a “holy grail for cinephiles.” You’re hard-pressed to find it online or at a screening, but it’s waiting for you in the “Nature Gone Amok” section at Scarecrow.
Dive into spooky season with “Carnival of Souls”
We can’t get enough of this killer 1962 horror flick. “Carnival of Souls” clocks in at a tight 78 minutes, and features the most terrifically tacky furniture, cheap sets, bad makeup, and untrained actors. What, you need another reason to watch? Matt compares it with the likes of “Rosemary’s Baby” with the bonus of a simmering sense of “banal evil” throughout. We’re sold.