Never let it be said that Scream Factory ignores the lesser lights of com­mer­cial hor­ror. Titles you might not even expect to get a blu-ray often get the spe­cial edi­tion treat­ment from this com­pa­ny. A recent exam­ple of this is Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings. This direct-to-video quick­ie has not only been lift­ed to high-def promi­nence by the com­pa­ny, it has also got­ten a round of sur­pris­ing­ly involved spe­cial fea­tures.

Pumpkh2-bluFans of Pumpkinhead II had to set­tle for full-frame ver­sions of this title in its VHS and DVD incar­na­tions but this new Scream Factory blu-ray ver­sion gives it the anamor­phic treat­ment. Even bet­ter, it’s a pret­ty nice-look­ing trans­fer: the lev­el of detail is sharp, col­ors are vivid and the black lev­els dur­ing the night sequences are nice and rich. The audio for this trans­fer is a loss­less pre­sen­ta­tion of the orig­i­nal 2.0 Stereo mix. The results are solid, with a well-bal­anced mix that nev­er allows the dia­logue to get over­pow­ered by oth­er ele­ments.

There are also plen­ti­ful spe­cial fea­tures. The first is a new­ly-record­ed solo com­men­tary track by direc­tor Jeff Burr. He’s frank about the many dif­fi­cul­ties he faced down on this job — a poor­ly devel­oped script, a rushed pro­duc­tion, step­ping in to replace anoth­er direc­tor late in pre-pro­duc­tion — but also express­es a refresh­ing­ly prag­mat­ic atti­tude about mak­ing low-bud­get films. He offers his take on all the dif­fer­ent cast mem­bers and how they joined the project, reveals how he would have rewrit­ten the script if he’d had the chance and offers prac­ti­cal advice to aspir­ing gen­re film­mak­ers. All in all, a nice track for low-bud­get gen­re flick enthu­si­asts.

Pumpkh2-4Burr also gets a 62-min­ute inter­view. It cov­ers a lot of the same ground as his com­men­tary and prob­a­bly could have been edit­ed down a bit but Burr is a cheer­ful, forth­com­ing inter­view sub­ject nonethe­less. Patient view­ers will be reward­ed with some details that you don’t hear in the com­men­tary: exam­ples include how Burr brought orig­i­nal Pumpkinhead screen­writ­ers Mark Patrick Carducci and Gary Gerani to do some quick tweaks on the script and how one young cast mem­ber when on to become the screen­writer who penned Flight. Anyone inter­est­ed in Burr’s career is like­ly to enjoy hear­ing more of his thoughts on what it’s like to work in the blue-col­lar trench­es of gen­re film­mak­ing.

Pumpkh2-5Elsewhere, there is a 33-min­ute fea­turet­te enti­tled “Recreating The Monster” that focus­es on the film’s FX team and incor­po­rates input from artists Greg Nicotero and Gino Crognale as well as mon­ster-suit actor Mike McCracken. Nicotero and Crognale start the piece by talk­ing about try­ing to respect the design of the orig­i­nal suit while rework­ing it slight­ly to pre­pare for the more action-ori­ent­ed sequel. However, all par­tic­i­pants soon get into talk­ing about the fun they had on set, includ­ing prac­ti­cal jokes played on McCracken while in the suit and how one gig­gle fit got them kicked off the set. Crognale gives it a nice close by shar­ing a fond remem­brance of the open­ness and sense of com­mu­ni­ty that the dif­fer­ent depart­ments enjoyed on the set.

Pumpkh2-6The final inclu­sion is about 17 and a half min­utes’ worth of behind the screen footage. It is FX-cen­tric, includ­ing a lot of McCracken on the set in his mon­ster suit, respond­ing to direc­tion shout­ed over noise-mak­ing fans, as well as a glimpse into the “old witch” make­up being applied. There’s also a few fun bits, like McCracken repeat­ed­ly bump­ing his head on a ceil­ing fix­ture while try­ing to shoot one mon­ster attack scene and McCracken clown­ing for still cam­eras in the mon­ster suit while wear­ing sun­glass­es.

In short, Scream Factory real­ly went the extra mile on a title that most hor­ror fans wouldn’t imag­ine get­ting that sort of treat­ment. Thus, any fans of straight-to-video hor­ror from the ear­ly ‘90s will want to snap up this disc of Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings for the improved A/V qual­i­ty and the insights into what it was like mak­ing this kind of pro­duc­tion.