VCI’s DVD edi­tion of Dark Night Of The Scarecrow was an unex­pect­ed sur­prise for hor­ror fans last year, offer­ing a superb trans­fer and a few worth­while extras put togeth­er by the film’s writer/producer J.D. Feigelson. VCI has gone back to the well for a blu-ray update of this pop­u­lar title.  Thankfully, this is not just some dou­ble-dip: it’s a gen­uine improve­ment on some­thing that was already pret­ty good in both the a/v and sup­ple­ment areas.

The blu-ray presents the excel­lent mas­ter used for the last edi­tion in all its high-def­i­n­i­tion glo­ry and the results are fan­tas­tic.  The detail is sharp as a pin and the col­ors real­ly pop.  The addi­tion of uncom­pressed sound capa­bil­i­ty gives an added boost to the audio.  Both 2.0 and 5.1 stereo mix­es are avail­able: the 5.1 was used for this review and it’s a very robust mix.  The eerie Glenn Paxton musi­cal score ben­e­fits from the way it is opened up on this track.  Surround effects are lim­it­ed but very effec­tive when they are used (lis­ten out for those birds after the big shoot­ing scene).

The extras from the orig­i­nal disc — a com­men­tary track with Feigelson and direc­tor Frank DeFelitta plus an orig­i­nal net­work pro­mo spot — are both retained here (check the link below for Schlockmania’s orig­i­nal cov­er­age of the­se extras).  However, the big news is that VCI has added a com­ple­ment of fresh extras that real­ly boost the val­ue. For starters, this set fea­tures a full-col­or book­let that show­cas­es an in-depth essay from gen­re schol­ar John Kenneth Muir.  True to Muir’s style, it’s a very thought­ful blend of inter­pre­ta­tion, inter­views and facts.

On the small end of the scale, there’s a ten min­ute ani­mat­ed gallery of pro­duc­tion pho­tos, includ­ing sev­er­al inter­est­ing can­did shots, and net­work pro­mo from a 1985 rebroad­cast that offers an inter­est­ing vari­a­tion on the orig­i­nal “trail­er” used for this film.

The heart of the new extras lie in two fea­turettes.  The first is a 46 min­ute Q&A ses­sion from a Kentucky film fes­ti­val that fea­tures Feigelson with stars Tanya Crowe and Larry Drake.  The mate­ri­al the group cov­ers over­laps with the info cov­ered in the com­men­tary and the mak­ing-of fea­turet­te but fans will enjoy see­ing the cam­er­aderie between the­se col­lab­o­ra­tors.  Drake adds a few inter­est­ing bits not avail­able in the oth­er sup­ple­ments, like how he pre­pared for shoot­ing his sce­nes on L.A. Law (in which he played a Bubba-esque char­ac­ter).

The best of the new addi­tions is the oth­er fea­turet­te, a snap­py mak­ing-of piece enti­tled “Bubba Didn’t Do It!” This seg­ment was mas­ter­mind­ed by Daniel Griffith and offers a fast-paced spo­ken his­to­ry of how Dark Night Of The Scarecrow came to be.  It incor­po­rates fresh inter­views with Feigelson, DeFelitta, Crowe, Drake  and actor Robert Lyons as well as input from crew mem­bers and even fel­low filmmaker/fan Stuart Gordon!  Lots of inter­est­ing mate­ri­al is includ­ed here, includ­ing how Ray Bradbury was a men­tor to Feigelson and how the hat Lyons wore in the film influ­enced his approach to his char­ac­ter(!).  Griffith orga­nizes his mate­ri­al well, break­ing it down into chap­ters to cov­er each phase of pro­duc­tion, and pac­ing it sharply like a good nar­ra­tive.  It’s a gem of a fea­turet­te, one of the best Griffith has done thus far.

In short, the great a/v qual­i­ty and added fea­tures (espe­cial­ly the mak­ing-of piece) eas­i­ly jus­ti­fy the mod­est retail price.  VCI has done a job to be proud of here — this is an upgrade that fans won’t regret invest­ing in.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, click here.

To read Schlockmania’s DVD review of Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, click here.