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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Dark Night of the Scarecrow [Blu-ray]


(Frank De Felitta, 1981)



Review by Gary Tooze



Broadcast: Wizan TV Productions

Video: VCI Entertainment



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:36:54.558

Disc Size: 49,042,270,834 bytes

Feature Size: 27,559,550,976 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.00 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 11th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 matted to 1:78

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



LPCM Audio English 4608 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4608 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English (SDH), Spanish, none



Commentary by Director Frank De Felitta & Writer J.D. Feigelson
Daniel Griffith Documentary "Bubba Didn't Do it" (31:42)
Q&A with Larry Drake, Tonya Crowe & J. D. Feigelson (46:05)
CBS Network World Premiere Promo (1:07)
Rebroadcast Promo (1:05)
Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery





Description: When young Marylee Williams (Tonya Crowe) is found viciously mauled, all hell breaks loose in her small rural town. Officious postmaster Otis P. Hazelrigg (Charles Durning) leads a gang of bigots in pursuit of the suspect: her mentally challenged friend Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake). Finding him hiding inside a scarecrow, they exact brutal mob "justice"...only to discover a tragic mistake! Now a strange apparition stalks the land seeking each of them out, as the legend of the Scarecrow begins.



The Film:

While Scarecrows (1988) and Night of the Scarecrow (1994) are good attempts (the former is better), the best of the scarecrow lot is the superior TV horror movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow which made its debut in November of 1981. Since then, it's become a staple on some cable stations during the Halloween season and is a much sought after home video title.

Directed by Frank DeFelitta, Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a taut production about friendship, prejudice and revenge - which puts it in a league with the best thrillers produced for the small screen. The film's impact is made even stronger by its high degree of violence, which is unusual for a non-theatrical release.

Excerpt from the Terror Trap located HERE

J.D. Feigelson finished the script based on a story he co-wrote with Butler Hancock and considering the TV limits, they wrote a very suspenseful thriller that holds up very well for its age with few limits. Director De Felitta also co-wrote the highly underrated Z.P.G. – Zero Population Growth (reviewed elsewhere on FulVue), Audrey Rose and The Entity, so he has a solid genre writing record and this furthers that legacy. There is a reason this film has had the great reputation and cult fan base it has for so many years and deservedly so. The supporting performances of Lane Smith, Robert F. Lyons, Claude earl Jones, Tonya Crowe and Jocelyn Brando (among others) work very well together and makes this a minor Horror classic.

Excerpt from FulvueDriive-In located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Dark Night of the Scarecrow was very impressive on Blu-ray from VCI.  This TV production was shot on 35mm and transfers exceptionally well to digital. The strong contrast supports a high level of detail, there is frequent depth and the dual-layered transfer, with a high bitrate, keeps noise, in the many dark sequences, to a bare-minimum. Colors are rich and tight through the VC-1 encode. Daylight scenes are rife and the natural lighting produces some pristine visuals on the exceptionally clean print. It's all good and I suspect that The Dark Night of the Scarecrow never looked this good on my parents old 1980's tube.



















Audio :

VCI have used a linear PCM 5.1 track at a healthy 4608 kbps. This is, presumably, a bump and lacks the depth I was expecting but otherwise is impressive being quite crisp with some atmospheric separations. It surprised in a few scenes. There is also a 2.0 channel stereo uncompressed option adhering closer to the original. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

VCI offer the same supplement found on their 2010 DVD with the commentary by Director Frank De Felitta & Writer J.D. Feigelson. It's a typical discussion - remaining and production details. A bit dry but still entertaining and informative. Also ported over is the minute-long CBS Network World Premiere Promo in rough shape but I believe there are two new features - Daniel Griffith's documentary "Bubba Didn't Do it" runs over 1/2 hour and fans of the film will enjoy the effort put into it. There is also a 45-minute Q&A with Larry Drake, Tonya Crowe & J. D. Feigelson discussing and recollecting the film production. There is also, a fairly weak, Behind the Scenes photo gallery.



This was great - with all the limitations of it's more simple TV production roots. The Dark Night of the Scarecrow has an inherent innocence that belies the scarier moments and it's pieced together surprisingly well. This is has a following - rightfully so - and this VCI Blu-ray transfer should please many who are fans of this superior television production. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

October 4th, 2011

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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Gary W. Tooze






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