Historically, the DVD for­mat has been weak on issu­ing made-for-tele­vi­sion movies.  During the VHS days, t.v. movies were fre­quent­ly issued, albeit often in decep­tive pack­ag­ing that tried to make them look like the­atri­cal efforts.  Once DVD’s became the norm and more was expect­ed from a home video pur­chase than just a good pre­sen­ta­tion of the film, only cer­tain minis­eries or oth­er pres­tige items of that ilk made the cut.  Thus, it is nice when any com­pa­ny uses the capa­bil­i­ties of the DVD or blu-ray for­mats to do right by a film orig­i­nal­ly cre­at­ed for tele­vi­sion.

On that note, VCI has a disc to be proud of with their recent DVD edi­tion of Dark Night Of The Scarecrow.  The video trans­fer sticks to the 1.33:1 ratio of the orig­i­nal t.v. pre­sen­ta­tion but the result is sharper and has a richer col­or scheme than the Key Video VHS that a lot of fans of this film are used to.  It’s also worth not­ing that this trans­fer restores a shot to the finale that was cut from the broad­cast ver­sion.  In terms of the audio, the orig­i­nal mix is includ­ed as well as a new 5.1 remix.  The lat­ter doesn’t do rad­i­cal things with the mix but offers some extra rear-speak­er activ­i­ty with sound effects and spreads out the eerie Glenn Paxton score nice­ly.

There are also a few extras thrown in to sup­ple­ment the pre­sen­ta­tion.  The most notable is a com­men­tary track fea­tur­ing screen­writer J.D. Feigelson and direc­tor Frank DeFelitta.  The pair often gets bogged down in admir­ing the onscreen action but Feigelson makes a decent effort to press DeFelitta for rec­ol­lec­tions and triv­ia as well as shar­ing his own.  It’s worth a lis­ten for fans because it offers some inter­est­ing anec­dotes: for instance, the role of Otis Hazelrigg was orig­i­nal­ly devel­oped with Strother Martin in mind and the same loca­tion was dressed dif­fer­ent ways so it could serve both as a court­room and the school room for a Halloween par­ty scene.

The one oth­er extra is a t.v. spot that pro­mot­ed the film’s orig­i­nal tele­cast.  It’s only a min­ute in length but it offers a heady nos­tal­gia rush for view­ers of a cer­tain age.  It starts with a great, opti­cal effects-crazed intro (remem­ber when the net­works used to do those?) and then leads into a short but sweet hard-sell trail­er com­plete with omi­nous nar­ra­tion.  It’s great fun and a nice lit­tle inclu­sion.

In short, this is a nice pre­sen­ta­tion of a film that few fans imag­ined would ever make it to DVD.  A lot of cred­it must also go to screen­writer J.D. Feigelson, who spear­head­ed the effort to remas­ter and reis­sue the film for DVD.  He and VCI have cre­at­ed a nice way for fans new and old to relive the spooky joys of Dark Night Of The Scarecrow.