March 27, 2012

J.D. Feigelson Shines a Light on "Dark Night of the Scarecrow" [Horror Hound Weekend -March 24]

In 1981, CBS aired Dark Night of the Scarecrow, an original TV movie with so much creepy atmosphere that it made whole generations of kids leery of the suspicious straw men strung up in fields across the country.

30 years later, Dark Night of the Scarecrow continues to cast its shadow -- this time over Horror Hound Weekend in Columbus, OH where the film's writer and creator -- J.D. Feigelson -- was on hand to promote the film's recent release on Blu-ray by VCI Entertainment. Although Dark Night of the Scarecrow is by no means a zombie film, I couldn't pass up the chance to meet the man credited with creating the killer scarecrow genre.

Me, J.D., and the Scarecrow make Three!
"I didn't want to do something that was a copy of things that had already been done," Fiegelson told me when I asked where he came up with the idea. "There'd been Mummies, and Frankenstein monsters, and Wolfmen, and on and on and on . . . but for some reason nobody ever thought of doing a scarecrow. I mean, you had jolly scarecrows like The Wizard of Oz but never a scarecrow intended to do what a scarecrow was built for."

And there's plenty of scares to be had in Dark Night of the Scarecrow, yet Fiegelson will be the first one to warn you that "it's not a gorefest." Dark Night of the Scarecrow's real strengths are the hallmarks of all story-driven horror: its spooky atmosphere and simmering mystery, not to mention the powerful image of its rarely-seen yet titular Scarecrow. For a generation of young horror fans who grew up watching buckets of blood and gimmicky slashers that garner more screen time and audience interest than their victims, Dark Night of the Scarecrow is certainly a thriller of a more subtle and understated flavor. So what is the movie's enduring appeal with fans new and old?

"I think it's got a soul to it that most horror movies don't have in that the theme of the movie is innocent love triumphing over evil" Fiegelson notes. "It's about a quest for justice, and most the horror movies today don't have a theme."

Speaking of theme, there's certainly a clear theme in VCI's production of the 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray for Dark Night of the Scarecrow, and that theme is adoration. VCI has put a lot of love and care into restoring Dark Night of the Scarecrow for Blu-ray. They've even packed the disc with special features including a commentary, half-hour making-of documentary, cast Q & A, and original CBS Saturday Night Movies TV promos.

It's a great package for a great horror morality tale that deserves a place in your horror collection.