As their back cat­a­log reveals, Scream Factory has a seri­ous sweet tooth for ‘80s hor­ror. Thus, it’s fit­ting that they’ve done the blu-ray hon­ors for Witchboard, a seri­ous cult fave with the ‘80s hor­ror crowd. It’s obvi­ous that it’s also a favorite with the pro­duc­ers at Scream Factory as they put in quite an effort here, deliv­er­ing a nice new trans­fer and sup­ple­ment­ing it with an array of bonus fea­tures new and old.

Things start on a good note with a sleek-look­ing high def­i­n­i­tion trans­fer used on both discs. The blu-ray was used for this review and the results look nice for a mid-‘80s low-bud­get film: black lev­els are solid dur­ing the night sequences, the col­ors have a new rich­ness and the detail gets a new boost in clar­i­ty. The audio offers a loss­less pre­sen­ta­tion of the film’s orig­i­nal mono mix: thus, there is no direc­tion­al speak­er activ­i­ty but the blend of dia­logue, music and effects works and has a nice punch.

The set’s cav­al­cade of extras begins with two com­men­tary tracks. The first track dates back to the film’s Anchor Bay DVD release and fea­tures writer/director Kevin Tenney, pro­duc­er Jeff Geoffrey and exec­u­tive pro­duc­er Walter Jostyn.  It was the first film for all three so they have pret­ty vivid mem­o­ries of the pro­duc­tion and are quick to share them.

Witchb-bluTopics dis­cussed include hav­ing to replace the cin­e­matog­ra­pher ear­ly in the shoot, the tech­ni­cal chal­lenges involved in dif­fer­ent set­pieces and how the use of a Ouija board pre­sent­ed legal chal­lenges that had to be deft­ly nego­ti­at­ed. Tenney self-dep­re­cat­ing­ly notes the role that “dumb luck” played in their suc­cess, includ­ing how the sud­den pop­u­lar­i­ty of Stephen Nichols on t.v. and Tawny Kitaen in music videos helped spark inter­est when the film was released. All in all, it’s a good nuts-and-bolts track that gives you a sense of the work involved in mak­ing a pol­ished low-bud­get film.

The sec­ond com­men­tary track was record­ed for this set and fea­tures Tenney with cast mem­bers Nichols, Kathleen Wilhoite and James Quinn. It estab­lish­es a nos­tal­gic and wit­ty vibe ear­ly on thanks to the chem­istry of the par­tic­i­pants. Quinn and Tenney were child­hood friends (a top­ic they dis­cuss here) so they make a pret­ty amus­ing pair of cut-ups, Wilhoite self-effac­ing­ly asks Tenney ques­tions to keep him primed and Nichols adds the occa­sion­al wry aside, with his mock-indig­nance about his hand mod­el in the Ouija board sce­nes becom­ing a run­ning gag.

There are fun tales of the rig­ors of the shoot, prac­ti­cal jokes and some reveal­ing details from Tenney about why he took a long break from film­mak­ing.  In short, this com­men­tary offers a nice coun­ter­bal­ance to the oth­er track and makes for a fun lis­ten.

The heart of the video-based extras is a new doc­u­men­tary fea­turet­te on the film enti­tled “Possessive Entrapment.” Tenney, Geoffray and Jostyn are on hand to set up the gen­e­sis of the film and its pro­duc­tion, includ­ing some inter­est­ing info on how Tenney left film school to make this movie, but it devotes more time to the cast and how dif­fer­ent spe­cial effects were achieved.

Todd Allen, Kitaen, Nichols and Wilhoite also turn up in this piece to offer fond mem­o­ries of work­ing togeth­er and the occa­sion­al tale of pranks or on-set jokes.  Allen in par­tic­u­lar tells a fun­ny tale about being rec­og­nized after the film by a girls ten­nis team in a hotel.  FX coör­di­na­tor Tassilo Baur is a great addi­tion to the piece, offer­ing detailed but con­cise accounts of how dif­fer­ent set­pieces were done (his opin­ion on Ouija boards also offers a good laugh).  In short, this is an enter­tain­ing and fast-paced piece that will please Witchboard fans.

From there, the extras move into vin­tage mate­ri­al. First up is a “Making Of” piece that runs about 7 min­utes. It’s real­ly more of an infor­mal EPK where inter­view snip­pets with the actors are inter­spersed with goof­ing around on the set and footage from the film, includ­ing a glimpse of the boat explo­sion pro­logue that was cut from the film.

The pro­duc­ers also had access to over 90 min­utes of behind-the-sce­nes video footage from the pro­duc­tion and they parcel it out via a quin­tet of video seg­ments. The first of the­se is sim­ply called “Cast Interviews”:  it’s half inter­view snip­pets with Allen, Nichols and Kitaen, who main­ly dis­cuss that they love the script because it’s so char­ac­ter-dri­ven, and raw edits of footage from the film sans music, inserts or sound effects.

There are also two “On Set” inter­view seg­ments, both 20 min­utes each. The first has a few min­utes with Allen talk­ing about his expe­ri­ences as a film actor before mov­ing into a longer inter­view with Nichols. The chat focus­es around his work in the film and he comes off as a charm­ing, unpre­ten­tious type. The sec­ond seg­ment fea­tures Tenney, Geoffray and cin­e­matog­ra­pher Roy Wagner. They all praise the ded­i­ca­tion and skills of the crew, which helped them deal with the time and mon­ey lim­i­ta­tions.

The last two seg­ments are more casu­al, ori­ent­ed around footage of pro­duc­tion work. “Life On The Set” has lots of infor­mal footage of the crew at work, a brief inter­view with a stand-in for Kitaen and footage of a make­up artist work­ing on Allen and Kitaen. It livens up when Tenney walks in the room and they all start goof­ing on each oth­er. “Constructing Witchboard” is a mon­tage of footage from the last day of prin­ci­pal pho­tog­ra­phy as the crew worked on a false win­dow front and an elab­o­rate cam­era rig. It’s not ter­ri­bly excit­ing but it gives an impres­sion of the time and work involved in a film shoot.

The last few extras are devot­ed to pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­als. There are two t.v. spots and a the­atri­cal trail­er for the film: odd­ly, the t.v. spots do a bet­ter job of sell­ing the film’s appeal. There are also two image gal­leries: a behind-the-sce­nes gallery includes around 200 shots from the set, includ­ing exten­sive cov­er­age of the delet­ed boat-explo­sion pro­logue, and a pro­mo gallery includes stills, posters and what appears to be some pho­tos from a pre­mière.

In short, Scream Factory has cre­at­ed the jam-packed spe­cial edi­tion of Witchboard that its fans have been wait­ing for and it’s a nice com­ple­ment to their equal­ly exten­sive spe­cial edi­tion for Tenney’s Night Of The Demons.