Some films cry out for a spe­cial edi­tion treat­ment and have a hard time get­ting there. From A Whisper To A Scream, orig­i­nal­ly released to the­aters and VHS as The Offspring, is a good exam­ple. Despite a killer cast of cult movie actors and a well-deserved cult rep­u­ta­tion, it had to wait until 2005 to be released on DVD and was dropped on the mar­ket with no extras besides its trail­er. Thankfully, it has been revis­it­ed on blu-ray by Scream Factory — and the film­mak­ers tapped Daniel Griffith’s Ballyhoo Motion Pictures to pro­duce some of the best extras you’ll see on any cult movie reis­sue this year.

FAWTAS-bluThe trans­fer looks pret­ty nice here, bring­ing new lev­els of col­or and detail to the image while retain­ing its grit­ty cel­lu­loid tex­ture. The film’s orig­i­nal stereo mix is pre­sent­ed in loss­less form and does well by the vin­tage mix, main­tain­ing a solid blend of dia­logue, effects and music through­out.

Though it is strange­ly not list­ed as a spe­cial edi­tion, this disc of From A Whisper To A Scream adds hours of bonus con­tent to sup­ple­ment the main fea­ture. The bonan­za begins with a pair of com­men­tary tracks. The first is a solo track from direc­tor Burr, who offers a con­sis­tent­ly engag­ing and infor­ma­tive stream of chat­ter. He dis­cuss­es his learn­ing expe­ri­ences as a first-time direc­tor and shares great sto­ries about his once-in-a-life­time cast, includ­ing a hilar­i­ous anec­dote about Susan Tyrrell and Vincent Price. He most­ly avoids repeat­ing tales from the oth­er extras, which is a nice touch.

FAWTAS-08The oth­er com­men­tary pairs producer/co-writer Darin Scott with writer C. Courtney Joyner. Their ban­ter is infor­mal but infor­ma­tive as they ana­lyze their choic­es as sto­ry­tellers, swap set sto­ries, point out their cameos and express a great deal of appre­ci­a­tion for their cast. Like Burr, they have some fun sto­ries about Cameron Mitchell.

However, the real action in the extras sec­tion arrives with a pair of video extras pro­duced and direct­ed by Daniel Griffith. He was actu­al­ly cho­sen by the film­mak­ers to chron­i­cle the film and he hon­ors their com­mit­ment by bypass­ing the usu­al fea­turettes to pro­duced full-length doc­u­men­taries.

The first is “Return To Oldfield,” a ret­ro­spec­tive on From A Whisper To A Scream that runs near­ly two hours and fea­tures input from Burr, Scott, Joyner and vir­tu­al­ly every oth­er key crew mem­ber on the film. It’s a com­pre­hen­sive piece that starts by estab­lish­ing how the FAWTAS-06film­mak­ers became friends and why they set­tled on an anthol­o­gy before cov­er­ing the pro­duc­tion in detail, seg­ment by seg­ment, all the way through to its dis­tri­b­u­tion.

Griffith leaves no stone unturned in this doc and, despite the length, it moves a fast clip all the way through. His rap­port with the film­mak­ers leads them to be very forth­com­ing, admit­ting to their short­com­ings while still express­ing won­der at and fond­ness for all they achieved. The sto­ries about how the dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter actors became involved in the film are great, with the sto­ry of how Vincent Price got involved being a com­plex aFAWTAS-07nd sus­pense­ful sto­ry-with­in-the-sto­ry. Griffith also applies a lot of cin­e­mat­ic style, includ­ing a cool open­ing titles sequence and art­ful use of film clips and pho­tos as coun­ter­point to the tales spun by his sub­jects.

The sec­ond doc­u­men­tary is called “A Decade Under The Innocence” and it’s one of the more unique extras to appear on a hor­ror reis­sue in recent mem­o­ry. It focus­es its sev­en­ty-plus min­utes on the child­hood film­mak­ing exploits of Burr and sev­er­al peo­ple who would work on From A Whisper To A Scream, includ­ing Mark Hannah and Allen Posten. We see how they inde­pen­dent­ly devel­oped cin­e­mat­ic ambi­tions via learn­ing with Super-8 equip­ment, ulti­mate­ly cross­ing paths and being encour­aged by the adults in their Dalton, Georgia home­town to refine their craft.

FAWTAS-05The results are not only enter­tain­ing but sur­pris­ing­ly poignant for any fan of vin­tage gen­re fare: Burr and his friends rep­re­sent the last gen­er­a­tion of mon­ster kids who grew up play­ing with real film equip­ment to learn their craft at a time when it real­ly took desire and ambi­tion to pur­sue the craft. It’s touch­ing to see how adults nur­tured their ambi­tions (even the film­mak­ers’ long-suf­fer­ing moms get to speak here) and there are plen­ty of clips from the­se old projects that will raise a smile with any­one who toyed with the cin­e­mat­ic arts as a kid.

The extras are round­ed out by the orig­i­nal the­atri­cal trail­er. It illus­trates how the orig­i­nal dis­trib­u­tor mis­han­dled the film, pitch­ing it to audi­ences as a mon­ster flick instead of an anthol­o­gy. It also blows some of the sur­pris­es in the sto­ries so first-time view­ers may want to watch it after they’ve seen the film.

All in all, this edi­tion of From A Whisper To A Scream is a treat for its fans and well worth see­ing for any­one into inde­pen­dent hor­ror film­mak­ing. Griffith’s extras real­ly put it over the top, show­ing an effort that few extras pro­duc­ers are will­ing to go to and essen­tial­ly dou­bling the val­ue of the over­all pack­age. It’s one of the best hor­ror blu-ray releas­es of the year so if you’re seri­ous about your spe­cial edi­tion releas­es, don’t pass this one by.