Anybody that knows me will tell you that one of my all-time favorite movies is Dark Night of the Scarecrow. Both David and I have written about it many times on this blog, I did a piece on it in Scary Monsters Magazine #81, and also contributed a chapter on it for an upcoming sequel to the book Horror 101: The A List of Horror Films & Monster Movies presented by A.C. Christensen. Despite featuring a killer scarecrow, the film’s true villain was Otis P. Hazelrigg brilliantly and devilishly played by Charles Durning and I was saddened to hear that yesterday, Christmas Eve, Mr. Durning died at the age of 89.
TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES is bursting with pride in welcoming our dear friend, and writer of one of our favorite films, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, J.D. Feigelson as a guest writer on our site. Feigelson, aside from being highly respected in the industry, has been one of the most generous celebrities to us Daves and honored us even further by accepting the Rondo Award on our behalves at a recent ceremony. It turns out that we were in good company as he would also be chosen to accept awards on behalf of some rather noteworthy subjects…
As we reported last month, one of the most amazing experiences we had at Ohio’s Horrorhound Weekend was DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW writer, J.D. Feigelson, hand delivering us the identities of TWO previously unknown horror hosts (story HERE). The first, as covered, was the popular Dr. Ghoulman. The second is being revealed here for the very FIRST time, Professor Headstone!
One of the most unusual and wonderful things happened to us Daves at the last Horrorhound Weekend in Ohio. It started that opening night while we were perusing the main convention hall, ogling the unique items that the dealers had for sale while dodging fellow guests – many dressed as blood-soaked killers. Somehow, in the midst of all this pandemonium, my eyes focused on our dear friend, J.D. Feigelson. Feigelson, as our readers should at this time be well-versed, is the talented writer of one of my absolute FAVORITE films – DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARCROW. Now if you’re new to this site, and haven’t caught the numerous posts we’ve done both on Feigelson or that movie gem, we urge you to go back and do so. Feigelson was, and always will be, one of the nicest celebrities out there and one we are proud to also call “friend.” As before, he was all smiles and a genuine pleasure to talk to. This time, however, that signature smile appeared to have maniacal overtones as, unbeknownst to us, he was harboring a bit of a surprise…
Shortly after the 4th of July, I stopped over at our local TARGET store and was annoyed to see that they’d already begun their “Back to School” sales. Although I understand the motivation of businesses for engaging in this long-standing practice of “pushing the holidays,” it still doesn’t prevent me from routinely rolling my eyes and getting irked by it. “Back to School” in July? Sheesh, let the poor kids enjoy their summer!
Behind the large bins of notebooks, pens, and Elmer’s Glue (all supplies that will be as scarce as water in a desert a few short weeks from now) was a few items indicating yet another holiday was in the department store wings. Unlike the advent of a new school year or even Christmas, however, I greeted this occasion more as a welcomed friend along with the knowledge that a monster & horror fan’s favorite season is just around the corner.If you are reading this blog, its a good bet that you will agree that Halloween is one of the BEST holidays along with all the wonderful Fall festivities associated with it!
Although this has ALWAYS been my favorite season, it has become even more enhanced after I became friends with the other Dave – David Albaugh. I was thrilled to discover that David not only has the same eclectic and bizarre taste in music as I do (we both love parodies, no doubt the result of growing up with the Son of Svengoolie), he also had a much more extensive collection of Halloween and novelty songs. Now, thanks to him, I have new Halloween hits to add to my playlist such as “Werecow,” Dr Demento’s Halloween specials, and a whole lot more!
We also love collecting horror movie soundtracks…
This past FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FESTIVAL saw a reunion of one of my favorite movies – DARK NIGHT OF SCARECROW. The DNOTS celebrities were not located with the main group of guests and could be found in back of the main convention hall. They were the main purpose of my making the trek down to Kentucky and, after I arrived, sought them out first and foremost!
The writer of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, J.D. Feigelson gave me a warm greeting along with a nice surprise! On the table in front of him were some copies of the recently released DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW motion picture soundtrack! As mentioned in a recent piece, although this was a made-for-TV movie, it was written and filmed as if it was a big screen production. The same approach can be said of its music! Although his first venture into scary films, composer Glenn Paxton manages to create one of the creepiest scores of all time. At the FRIGHT NIGHT Q&A panel, Feigelson even went as far as to say it is the second scariest soundtrack he’s ever heard! After listening to it back home during our own “dark nights,” both Daves would agree – its AWESOME!
Take a listen yourself….
It is definitely creepy and will, no doubt, get lots of play in my household this Halloween season! I was listening to it while working at my desk at home and was afraid to look out my window for fear of seeing an ominous scarecrow sitting in my yard. Any fan of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW knows that this is a sure sign of impending DOOM!
I happily shipped a copy off to David, for once being able to add something to his collection as he has generously done so many times for mine. He couldn’t have been happier! “This is one of those soundtracks that stays with you, much like the soundtracks from PSYCHO or JAWS.” said David. “Though I’ve only seen this incredible movie three times in my life, as soon as I listened to the soundtrack images of the film filled my head prompting me to want to see it again. Since I also do an annual yard haunt at Halloween, I will be incorporating this awesome CD to my haunts soundtrack as well!”
Fans of the film should also note that this soundtrack not only covers the movie as it was seen as TV but also has extra music that never made it into the final print. This insures that any horror “completest” is guaranteed to walk away happy!
This soundtrack can be downloaded via itunes or purchased via AMAZON. Hurry up and add the DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW soundtrack to your horror music collection today! Its a great Fall score and perfect for Halloween!
Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is one season that’s never too early to prepare for!
Dave F. & David A.
I was standing in the lobby of the main hotel at FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST when a young man came up to me and asked if I was Dave from TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES. Although I didn’t recognize him, it turned out that he and I had met before during a brief, but memorable, moment at Horrorhound Weekend last March.
I remember at the time, the other Dave (David Albaugh) and I were standing in line to see Barbara Steele. Nobody likes being idle when there is so much to do around you, so we passed the time doing what we do best under these circumstances- staring at folks! Yes, both David and I consider ourselves to be avid “people watchers,” a skill that, no doubt, is something one the develops during an introverted, shy youth and gradually hones over time. While most people think the best subjects can be found at Walmart (as illustrated by the numerous viral emails that go around depicting the less refined members of their clientelle) it really doesn’t matter where you are nor the socio-ecominic satus of your subjects. The fact remains that we people, on the whole, are pretty darn funny!
This irreverent art form can reach whole new levels of entertainment when performed at a horror convention. Where else can you see crowds of people intermingled with werewolves, zombies, your favorite 80′s slasher, or people casually walking around with an axe in their head while dragging their entrails behind? As we stood gazing in different directions, I suddenly spotted the ultimate fan costume – none other than “Bubba” Ritter from DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW!
Anybody that loves a good killer scarecrow movie should know two things; 1) DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW was the very FIRST movie to feature one and 2) of the many killer scarecrow films and appearances to follow; there have been few as creepy as “Bubba.” Now, before my eyes, was a near perfect rendering of him casually walking past me at Horrorhound. I tossed David the camera and headed straight over to get a shot with him.
Four months later, here he was again but, this time, without the costume and as his alter ego, Chuck Schauland. Chuck is younger than I am and first encountered DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW during one of its cable airings - an avid fan ever since! Like myself, Chuck first met the film’s writer, J.D. Feigelson, at the previous March Horrorhound in 2010. This would also be the year that the official “Bubba” DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW mask created by Jeremy Bohr of “Featured Creatures would debut and Mr. Schauland has the distinction of owning mask #2 (the first belonging to Feigelson himself).
As David Albaugh is the resident mask expert here at TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES, Chuck was also helpful in assisting me in his absence - opening up a dialogue with a company we’ll hopefully have an opportunity to feature here soon; White Mask Productions (WMP).I really can’t say enough good things about him. He selflessly gave up a chunk of his own convention time to walk around (in a hot costume) and show other fans a good time. I’m so happy to have formally been able to meet him and hope he’ll stay in touch.
And speaking of masks, you should REALLY check out Chuck’s own blog; The Scarecrow’s Post! There you can find some incredible pictures of Chuck not only wearing his updated Bubba costume but also hanging out with the film’s stars at FRIGHT NIGHT. After you look at those, scroll back and check out his other mask photos which also include some pretty neat yard displays he created on his own property. I’ve learned a lot about masks and the mask industry via David Albaugh but Chuck’s more specialized taste in collecting (scarecrow and pumpkin-headed creatures) is something I can TOTALLY get in to. No wonder we’re both super fans of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW!
NOTE: Please click on the picture below if you dare visit The Scarecrow’s Post!!!
Shortly after the last Horrorhound Weekend in Indianapolis, I had a nice email exchange with J.D. Feigelson – writer of one of my all-time favorite films, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW. Feigelson had treated both David and I like royalty after already honoring us by posting his positive feedback on a blog I had written last year. That piece was regarding the long-awaited DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW DVD release (see both original post & comment HERE).
We sent J.D. messages of our sincere appreciation and he, in turn, shared some incredible news! He informed me that this year’s FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST would see a DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW reunion which would include first time convention appearances by Larry Drake (Bubba) and Tonya Crowe (Marylee)! While this convention was a bit out of my range and definitely not in my budget, I couldn’t afford to miss it. Not only because I am a HUGE fan of this movie and desperately wanted to meet the actors, but because it was suggested by Feigelson himself who had indirectly been so inspirational to us last Fall. I’ll bet you didn’t know that there was a great deal of wisdom that one can draw from J.D. Feigelson and the success of DARK KNIGHT NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, did you? Well let me explain…
Let’s be honest; there are a LOT of horror websites and bloggers out there. Many days after you’ve spent time writing a post and pressing the “Publish” button you wonder who will actually take the time to read it. You always hold on to the unlikely hope that you managed to write something completely unique and that it will stand out amidst the masses. If you allow yourself to fantasize even further, you envision yourself becoming the next Perez Hilton – seeing your humble site become a viral cash cow. Before the alarm clock drags you from this wonderful dream, you’ve already had the vision of clearing out your desk at work with your head held high – FINALLY achieving financial success doing what you love to do.
Of course David and I would absolutely love those things too. Early on, however, we made a point to view this site first as an extension of our wonderful friendship as well as a positive way to spotlight all things horror related from a “fans-eye view.” We never expected the site to take off the way it had nor could have imagined the positive relationships, feedback, and experiences that would stem from it. Since David and I met in late 2009 we saw TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES go from an old pipe dream of mine to a reality. Then, over the course of a single year, watched in awe as number of hits each months increased; reaching digits neither of us believed possible.
While the site had begun gaining momentum last September (when I wrote the DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW piece) I wasn’t sure how many people would read it or even know what I was talking about. After all, this was not a big budget theatrically released picture; this was a TV movie that came out back in 1981. Other than an old VHS release and occasional airings on commercial cable channels, I assumed I was one of the few who even remembered the film, let alone revered it so much.
This would all change (in a moment of shear elation, I’ll have you know) after I saw an article in Horrorhound Magazine heralding a re-mastered DVD release! This was a movie I had previously only been able to enjoy while squinting my eyeballs during a crappy VHS to DVD transfer. Even the night it debuted and I first viewed DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, it was via a 13″ Black & White television set I had sitting on the floor of my bedroom. Now I would be able to see it with a clear, color picture and, in many ways, for the first time!
So on September, 2010, I pressed “Publish” on the DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW post without worrying if anyone else would read it. I loved the movie and wrote something that I - as a tremendous fan of the film, was proud of. That was satisfaction enough and, aside from that, my 40th birthday was looming that week. This was a time to dwell on my own misspent rather than how many hits my blog post was getting. So I posted the blog, bought and loved the DVD, and moved right along.
Nearly a month later, I was at work when I received notice that someone had commented on my DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW blog. I became light-headed when I saw that it was a message from J.D. Feigelson himself! Somehow the blog post that I had blindly thrown out into cyber-space had managed to find its way to the man who was the very subject of it and without, I might add, the assistance of Facebook. While the piece did end up doing well so far as “hits” go, at that moment it wouldn’t have mattered if he had been the ONLY person to have read it. A professional writer who created one of the most effective “revenge from the grave” thrillers of all time turned his attention to me and complimented something that I had written. To me it was like winning American Idol and there are few instances I can recall where I felt so honored or elated.
I am happy to report that the DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW DVD was a huge success. I was FAR from the only one who grew up loving that film and, all at once, we isolated fans of Bubba rose up and eagerly bought ourselves a copy. It was such a hit that this fall will now see the debut of THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW Blu-Ray – loaded with extras! This year has already seen the release of its amazing soundtrack that is so spectacular; BOTH Daves will be discussing it VERY soon.
If you haven’t seen this film then I beg you to get a copy NOW! It’s not only an example of film-making at its finest, but something we can all take a lesson from. When writing DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, J.D. Feigelson did not allow his storytelling to be driven by making a big budget hit nor CBS TV ratings bonanza. Instead he focused on writing the best story he could while staying true to himself and his vision. After the movie debuted it was received without fan fare and he moved on. Years later he would discover that he had accomplished something that neither celebrity writer nor big studio can consciously do; he had created a film with a “cult” following and legion of loyal fans that would extend generations beyond its release. A film that STILL stands today – more popular than ever!
There’s a lesson for all of us here. When it comes to plying your craft, do the best work you can and focus on being true to your own vision. Don’t worry about what the person next to you is doing or whether you are getting the recognition and praise you feel you deserve. I can’t say that one day you’ll turn around and get a surprise message from your idol or discover that your work has achieved cult status. I can say, however, that if this does happen it will be so much more rewarding than any instant gratification you might have initially craved.
J.D. Feigelson proves that nice guys can sometimes have the last word…as opposed to finishing last!
NEXT POST: Bubba the Scarecrow appears at FRIGHT NIGHT!..and I’m not talking about Larry Drake.
It was hot down in Kentucky for the recent FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST which saw the appearance of John Carpenter, Linda Blair, and Henry Winkler – along with a cache’ of independent films to be unveiled to an overheated (it was humid and like 100 degrees, I kid you not) horror audience. Among all these events and “A-list” horror celebrities was a small conclave of horror hosts who were invited by Horrorhound’s Jason Hignite to put on a LIVE show. While nowhere near the number of hosts seen at the Indy Horrorhound, FRIGHT NIGHT was visited by Midnite Mausoleum, Captain Crypt & Fenriz Fatal from Horror Dungeon, and The Count & Countess Gregula. Mr. Lobo & Dixie from Cinema Insomnia also made a stop through (to be covered in a future post) and I am pretty sure I saw Mel Praxis walking around too, but was on my way to the John Carpenter Q&A and never able to formerly meet him.
The plan was that there would be a showing of John Carpenter’s earliest film, DARK STAR and that each host would get up for 10-15 minutes and do a RIFF TRAX like performance, ripping on the lackluster film. The Gregulas carpooled down with me and both they and Dr Destruction (who had to cancel last minute) seemed uneasy regarding what to expect. Despite being familiar with performing, the prospect of getting up unscripted in front of an audience was a nerve wracking one at that. But there was one group of performers who had NO problem performing LIVE – with or without a script…
Atomic Age Cinema – featuring Dr Calamari, Basement Boy, Baron Mardi and Woody the Clown are no strangers to working a crowd and have been doing so for over six years. “It began in 2004 as a fundraiser for the Cinephile Film Arts Organization,” says Calamari. “It was dedicated to helping local filmmakers get their films made and shown. Cinephile eventually transformed into the Dark Carnival Film Festival and the profits from AAC!” I’d met them before at Horrorhound Weekend and always enjoyed talking with Doc Calamari who is not only a great guy but has one of the coolest & original looks. His tentacled face is matched only by his lone silvery eyeball that will have you quickly forgetting there’s a man underneath!
Despite the nature of this site, my original goals for attending FRIGHT NIGHT was less about covering hosts as it was about gathering info from THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW reunion. However, no respectable “Dave” would ever shy away from a horror hosted event and it should come as great comfort to my host friends that I skipped the “nude body painting show” in favor of attending this one. I knew it was slated to begin at 10:30 pm and tracked down a FRIGHT NIGHT attendant to assist me in finding its location. “Uh….I don’t know. Maybe look at the wall and see if there’s a sign?” Gee, thanks Einstein! Listen,when you’re done NOT helping anyone here, maybe you can check out the next room. I think I saw something shiny!
As I looked around for the Gregulas (passing a long line of conventioneers who suddenly had an interest in art) I ran into Jason Hignite. Let me state for the record that, when I die, I am hoping to come back as him. Not only does he get to work with horror hosts and write for Horrorhound Magazine, but he can always be seen at conventions with a cocktail in one arm and an attractive woman (in this case TWO) in the other. I mean no sarcasm when I say this; don’t bother reading a Martha Stewart magazine if you want to know the definition of “Living,” just hang around with Jason!
Hignite saw me and gave a warm greeting (despite neither offering me a sip of his drink nor one of his companions) and pointed in the direction of the show. I followed a winding hallway and, if there had been any question that I was headed to the right place, it was soon squelched at the sight of Woody the Clown pacing by the entrance. “We don’t have a f*cking movie!” he yelled. “No one has a copy of DARK STAR!” Well, at that point, I had no more reservations about missing the nude art show and knew that this was the place to be!
Before the main event we were treated to a screening of Dark Carnival’s DVD featuring The Vampira Tribute from 2010 – HOSTING HORROR: THE LEGACY OF VAMPIRA. Many people don’t realize that it was Dark Carnival who came up with the idea of a Vampira Tribute – eventually finding its way to Horrorhound. In this we should all be eternally grateful. The video features clips from that amazing afternoon as well as interviews from many of the participating hosts; Penny Dreadful, The Bone Jangler, and Karlos Borloff to name but a few. David and I each bought a copy of this video at the last Horrorhound and it has always been sad to me that the “other Dave” wasn’t there to see it LIVE with me. He, like myself, loves horror hosts and I know he’d have really enjoyed it. I appreciate Dark Carnival for creating this DVD – if only so he , and others unable to attend, could get a glimpse of it. Tonight’s venue was a small room but most seats were taken. As I settled in, I looked around and noticed Midnite Mausoleum’s Robyn Graves kicking back in more seasonal attire.
Horror Host “summer fashion” continued with the arrival of The Count and Countess Gregula – Gregula sporting a rather unique vampire look with a T-shirt, overcoat, and shorts. Here’s an interesting tidbit; not long after FRIGHT NIGHT, Gregula was cast for a role in a new NBC Fall series called “The Playboy Club.” I can’t help but think that the casting director may have seen one of these shots from the DARK STAR event before making their decision!
Soon the big moment arrived with a copy of the film arriving just in the nick of time. Showing their mettle as LIVE performers, it should be noted that the gang from Atomic Age Cinema were willing to perform to a DVD copy of ANY movie so long as it was readily available. As the lights went down, the show became less like RIFF TRAX and more like THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. The Atomic Age Cinema guys remained standing while everyone in the audience was encouraged to belt out comments and participate. In this I was at a distinct disadvantage having no alcohol in me, though this in no way stopped The Countess from stealing the show.
I’m here to tell you that she was absolutely hilarious utilizing her dry sense of humor like an artist delves in oil. Many folks believe that vampires have no blood but I can safely say that isn’t true as some of the “adults only” comments flying out of The Countess’ mouth left her counterpart turning a decisive shade of RED. Further adding to Gregula’s chagrin was my suggesting to him that perhaps his wife was the actual horror host and he should start thinking of himself as the sidekick. Gregula looked like I just “staked” him but, rest assured, I meant it only in good fun and they BOTH added a lot to this event.
In between bouts of laughter, and inappropriate comments, were special “games” organized by Atomic Age Cinema complete with prizes. The first of which was a drinking challenge in which Jason Hignite further secured his status as a party god and one we should all revere. As I write this I am making definite plans to start stalking him!
As for the movie it self, what can I say? If ever there was a film in need of the “horror host treatment,” this was it. I’d like to say that it was a rip-off of STAR WARS had it not been for the fact that this film was made a few years before. DARK STAR is definitely not something you’d want to watch again and again but, for these purposes, it was a welcomed attraction. A few members of the audience got so caught up, one eager participant ended up wearing a popcorn bucket on his head before winning a prize for his belly dancing.
The highlight of this event, however, was turning the lights on and seeing the film’s lead cast member, Brian Narelle, sitting amongst the audience! Sadly, the director of the film, John Carpenter was no where to be seen (no doubt sitting up in his hotel room issuing “Order 66″ and the extermination of the Jedi Knights). Narelle seemed to enjoy the show and was given a special Atomic Age Cinema T-shirt for being such a good sport!
As the event ended, everyone left with big smiles on their faces (probably equaling the hang-overs they’d have the next day) and it was clear that, despite recently losing their regular performing venue, Atomic Age Cinema is far from beaten. In the spirit of their new-found solidarity, they would not be confined to a booth at FRIGHT NIGHT and moved freely about the entire weekend. Everywhere they went they brought laughs and smiles at a convention that desperately needed it. This was further illustrated on the last day of the convention when, eager to take advantage of the familiar looking walkway that joined the two buildings of the hotel together, they decided to re-enact the cover of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road.”
I look forward to seeing them again, hopefully at the next March Horrorhound Weekend which, I am told, will take place in Columbus, Ohio this time instead of Indianapolis. We Daves will definitely be there and hope you will be as well!
Now…. if you’ll excuse me, I must hurry on my way! Jason Hignite just “tweeted” that he’s leaving his apartment.
I just returned from FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST in Kentucky and have mixed reviews regarding the event. Actually, there is another blogger out there who fairly (and from my perspective accurately) describes the ups of downs of this past weekend. Check out Shawn Patrick’s write up via Shawnster the Monster for a really great read.
Due to the busy convention season and number of events slated in and around my native Chicago, I had no intention of going down to Kentucky for this one. That was, however, until shortly after Horrorhound Weekend when the writer of one of my all-time favorite films, DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW called it to my attention. J.D. Feigelson is without question one of the nicest and most personable celebrities I’ve ever encountered. He treats David and I like kings and he certainly never has too.
J.D. informed me that FRIGHT NIGHT would mark the first appearance of DNOTS lead characters, Larry Drake and Tonya Crowe. The prospect of a DNOTS reunion and an opportunity to get some direct quotes for a piece I am writing for SCARY MONSTERS MAGAZINE meant I needed to be there. So, despite this event being far from perfect, I must admit that I was able to meet all of my objectives – along with the honor of seeing J.D. again and cast members from the film. This, in itself, was a true honor! I was also able to meet John Carpenter and other great celebs and will post those encounters (as well as plenty more DNOTS news) soon.
FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST is really an event designed for Independent film makers – and not so much the fans. Throughout the weekend, special screenings are provided of various unreleased films, while the film-makers themselves are on hand seeking fan reaction. Its also a great way for bloggers such as David and I to promote their work (ONLY if we like it, trust me) while making positive connections in the horror realm.
Its sort of like a high school dance where you start out slow and unsteady hoping that, as things progress, you’ll start gaining better moves and attract the most popular girl in school. The organizers have no trouble drawing fans in by booking big celebrities, such as the aforementioned John Carpenter. This is not unlike those electric bug zappers you hang in your yard but, in this case, its your wallet that gets “zapped!” Regardless, autograph seekers should have left satisfied.
While there was no question the event brought in some amazing celebrities, it was not designed to encourage meaningful fan/celebrity interaction. The main celebrity room was too small and the celebrities were herded in such a way, you could easily overlook them. John Carpenter and Linda Blair are great names in horror but aren’t known for their warmth. That being said, FRIGHT NIGHT must have been right up their alley. My meeting with John Carpenter (which I did on three separate occasions throughout the weekend) was so quick I almost got motion sickness, and my poor friends in the horror host community had the thankless task of being stationed in the hallway to get to them.
Between the retro hotel (which for $69 a night I suppose can’t be criticized too harshly despite being in desperate need of upkeep) and the scorching heat/humidity, I heard a lot of fans and vendors grumbling throughout the weekend.I also saw lots of people I met at DAYS OF THE DEAD a few weeks back who unanimously agreed that this event wasn’t nearly as enjoyable. How much of that was from the heat and hotel logistics vs the event itself probably depends on who you talk to. I would suggest to the hotel that when its 100 degrees outside they might have reconsidered closing the pool. This was done to accommodate more vendors who were spread between two buildings and needed to set up shop near the pool. Not good.
This, however, should not suggest that there weren’t some great moments and connections made here – and we’ll be delving into those in the coming days. Am I happy that I went? Well…uh…yeah. But I wasn’t “glowing” with happiness on the ride home like I was with HORRORHOUND and DAYS OF THE DEAD.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think that (considering the state of our economy and how hard people work to raise the funds to attend these fan events) “glowing” is not too much to ask for. If you’re an insider (or trying like hell to become one) who is willing to promote some great people with money not being an issue, by all means go down to FRIGHT NIGHT. If , however, you’re a fan who doesn’t have the luxury of doing multiple events and are trying to decide which one to attend, then I’d advise avoiding this one in 2012. Your money isn’t just important to you, its important to them and, as horror consumers, we should support those who are interested in treating us to an amazing weekend – and not just potential profits.
…or at least not be so obvious about it!
A couple months back I wrote a piece regarding DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW and how pleased I was that it had finally been released in digital (DVD) form (which you can read HERE). A couple weeks later, I was ecstatic when the film’s writer himself, J.D. Feigelson, commented on it. Most of the feedback we receive on TERROR FROM BEYOND THE DAVES is via Facebook or direct email. Of course we appreciate all comments but are particularly pleased when people take the time to comment directly on the blog. I was very happy that J.D. had been alerted to story and that he appeared to have liked it. I quickly wrote him back asking if he’d mind doing an interview for the site and he honored me by agreeing to do so.
Below are 10 Questions for J.D. Feigelson, writer of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW!
DAVE: Prior to DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, what experience had you had as a writer?
J.D.: Prior to DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW I had very little screenwriting experience. I had written and made a 25 minute film called “The Bowman” my last year in college and did an adaptation of a short story by author Ambrose Bierce, “one of the Missing”, which I filmed a few years later. My next attempt was a motorcycle – message feature of the “Easy Rider” genre made in 1970. I also directed this movie which had little success. Interestingly Director Tobe Hooper plays a roll in it. ”One of the Missing” found a home finally on PBS in 1979.
DAVE: The film has often been compared to those great “revenge from the grave” tales that were popular in EC Comics. Had you grown up a fan of those comic books?
J.D.: I certainly was a fan of the EC Comics. ”Vault of Horror”, “Tales from the Crypt”, etc. And I’m sure they influenced me in horror in general, but not specifically in any certain story. I would say that I was more influenced by the last days of radio drama. In particular “Intersanctum”. It had many stories based on the idea that the main character got away with some terrible deed and it came back to haunt him. I was also influenced by the original version of the movie – “The Thing”.
DAVE: What inspired the story of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW?
J.D.: The force that motivated me to do the film was two proceeding “failures”! So, I was confused and rethinking my efforts. My first love was historical drama, i.e. “The Bowman”, “One of the Missing” and later “Gone to Texas” (CBS Network). Because of the costs of doing a full scale historical drama was out of the question I fell back on my other love – horror. Lots of meditating on it and fear of another failure was a big psychological factor. A lot of past experiences, memories and ideas finally jelled in to the idea of a horror movie with a scarecrow. My first draft was terrible. Very predictable about a young couple coming to a rural community with a ghostly scarecrow.
I junked it after much agonizing. Time went by and slowly the present storyline developed in my imagination.
DAVE: I, and many other fans, were thrilled to finally see this film receive the official DVD release it deserved. I know you worked very hard behind the scenes to make this happen. Can you tell us what it took to finally get this film remastered and released in digital form?
J.D.: First of all I had no idea over the intervening years since it was made that DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW had such a dedicated and broad following. After the original broadcast on CBS the movie had a short release on VHS for home video. It was then picked up by Warner Bros. TV distribution on a long 27 year contract. They were never interested in doing a DVD release – only syndicated television. In 2008 my partner and executive producer Joe Wizan called me to tell me that Warner’s contract had run out and that the movie was back with us. Did I think it would be ripe for DVD? I told him I thought so, but really I had no idea as to how broad and wide. So, I was tapped to produce and direct the restoration and remastering of the movie, which I did. All else has come to follow.
DAVE: I really enjoyed watching the film along with yours and director, Frank De Felitta’s, commentary. One thing that struck me was how this TV movie really has the look and feel of a theatrical presentation. You mention that it was filmed using angles usually reserved for the big screen. Can you elaborate on this and why it was shot in this manner?
J.D.: Rather simply Frank is a superb director. It was his idea and will to shoot the movie in a theatrical style. To this day I thank my stars for Frank’s loyalty to the script and his wonderful perception.
DAVE: Charles Durning is really amazing as the contemptible Mr. Hazelrig. It was mentioned during the commentary that he wasn’t initially thrilled with this role but that “he certainly feels differently now.” Has Mr. Durning responded to the cult following this picture has garnered?
J.D.: I have mentioned to Charles from time to time about how wonderful the fans think he is in DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW. As you know he is a veteran of many, many movies and an Oscar nominee. He certainly is appreciative but I don’t think he is as amazed at its acceptance as I am.
DAVE: Horror fans should note that you are credited with creating the very first “killer scarecrow” as the centerpiece of a movie. While there have been many more since I find none to be as creepy as the design used in DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW. Who designed this costume?
J.D.: I was informed by a film historian that it was the first feature length horror movie to have a scarecrow as it centerpiece. As my associates and I were contemplating the making of it as an independent feature, I made some preliminary sketches of how I envisioned the monster. The art director at our studio, Bill Griffin, took these sketches and rendered the scarecrow. Later when I ended up making the movie for CBS the same scarecrow was imported and starred in DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW with only minor changes.
DAVE: I had the honor of meeting you at the Horrorhound Weekend in Indianapolis last March and I remember just being overwhelmed with appreciation for the impact that film had had on me. During these public appearances, were you surprised by the number of young fans who grew up influenced by your work?
J.D.: I must admit that after some dozen fan conventions I am still amazed AND humbled by the huge interest and love for this film. When we made it I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams that it would be so honored. I have been introduced to a third generation of kids who have just found and love it.
Yard display created by my very talented co-blogger, David Albaugh, pays tribute to “Bubba.”
DAVE: How was the film received in 1981? When did you become aware that it had achieved cult status?
J.D.: In 1981 when the film was telecast it was considered just another piece of TV fluff. Nothing special. It occupied two hours of TV and served the sponsors. Goodbye. The few reviews were passive. Judith Crist ended her short review with: “…who’s doing the killings?…who cares.” And that was it. Until…the mid nineties when a friend showed me a book of interviews with horror celebrities. Among them the great Vincent Price. And would you believe – he’d seen the movie and was gushing over it. That was the first good review. God bless Vince.
I became aware of DOTS as a cult film during the restoration process. The word had gotten around and I began to get inquiries and then invitations to the film cons. This was before the release. Needless to say I was amazed! Can you imagine, I had no idea from 1981 to 2008.
DAVE: On the short video interview found on Amazon.com, you allude to a possible sequel. Care to elaborate?
J.D.: As to a sequel. There is nothing on the boards at the moment. All our time has been spent getting the DVD prepared and out. But as anyone knows from seeing the film, a sequel is certainly possible.
I hope this has answered effectively all your questions. So—goood niiight. Pleasant dreams..Muuuhahahaha.
Last March, I attended my first (but definitely not last) Horrorhound Convention. As mentioned in my previous post, Horrorhound Magazine definitely ranks as one of my favorites. Like FANGORIA, they sponsor their own conventions too - attracting some very impressive guests! For the past few years, Horrorhound has done two conventions annually; one in Indianapolis (March) and another in Cincinnati (November).
I had planned to attend the Ohio show last fall, intent on meeting Tom Savini and Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. I ended up canceling these plans, telling myself that I would attend the March show, come hell or high water! I’m very happy that I did. This convention, without question, was one of the BEST.
Joining me on this trip was my old pal, Jason. Although neither of us were sure of what to expect, we did have very specific goals about what we hoped to accomplish. Jason (a musician) wanted to acquire some rare horror music – particularly the scores to some Italian, gore classics. I, on the other hand, was thrilled at the prospect of meeting a number of the horror hosts who would be attending (more on that next time).
Both of us wanted to add new reference books, along with some rare 1980′s slasher films, to our collections. We were also anxious to meet some of the featured celebrity guests. These would include George Romero, Tom Savini, David Hess, and Elvira – to name but a few. I am happy to report that we not only met, but surpassed, ALL of our objectives!
We belted KISS parody songs all the way to Indianapolis, making the trip seem MUCH quicker (though it’s a wonder I could still speak after growling like Gene Simmons for four hours). When we pulled into the parking lot of the Marriott hotel, we saw horror host, Karlos Borloff (obviously, another fan of Simmons) outside enjoying a cigarette. There was no doubt, we had come to the right place.
Tom Savini was the next celebrity we met. He was sitting at a table with an interesting statue of a zombie eating Cheerios out of George Romero’s head. I found Savini to be a bit of a cold fish during this first encounter. I’ve been a huge fan of Savini for over twenty years and was anxious to have an opportunity to meet and talk with him. I started by telling him how much I loved THE GRINDHOUSE films and how happy I was that they had made a feature film of one of its faux trailers, MACHETE. He didn’t give eye contact and responded with a deadpan, “yeah.” He was slightly more communicative when I asked him about the Blu-Ray release date for his version of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990), stating that it should be at the end of this year after they add in some lost footage (cool!). Jason was gushing compliments left and right and he still barely cracked a smile. That initial meeting left me disappointed but, fortunately, the next meeting would be much better.
Our next celebrity encounter was with actor, David Hess. Hess starred in the original LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT as well as the 1980 Italian alternative, THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK. He also starred in HITCH-HIKE, SWAMP THING, and the rare Italian slasher BODY COUNT.
Hess’ co-star in THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK was Italian actor, Giovanni Lombardo Radice. Despite not being a fan of horror (particularly gore) movies, Radice has the distinction of starring in some of the gruesomest films ever made. These include Lucio Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD as well as Umberto Lenzi’s highly controversial, CANNIBAL FEROX. Hess was selling numerous photos at his table but the one that quickly caught my eye featured Radice and Hess together. It was more expensive than the other photos but was pre-signed by Radice himself. I was happy to add both autographs to my collection.
The 2010 Horrorhound Indianapolis Convention was a definite zombie paradise! On hand were plenty of representatives from Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD and DAY OF THE DEAD films. There was only one in attendance from his original, 1968 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and that was Charles Craig. Mr. Craig played the radio announcer in the horror classic (as well as a zombie extra) and was happy to pose with us using an actual microphone as a prop. He was a very nice guy and seemed genuinely surprised at the attention he received. I just felt bad that he was stuck handling money transactions while his “assistant” snoozed away!
I thought it was great that the original DAWN OF THE DEAD’s, Mike Christopher, appeared at the convention wearing his Hare Krishna zombie costume. I couldn’t believe that after 30 years he looked exactly the same as he did in that movie! We grabbed a beer off of the table (belonging to his irked assistant) and handed it to him for the shot. I hope I can meet him again so he can sign this photo! Jason returned to his booth on Sunday and we snapped a shot of him without the make up too.
On Saturday, we stood in line for about four hours to meet George Romero. It was well worth the wait. Mr. Romero is every bit as warm and ingratiating to his fans as we had heard. He signed a DAWN OF THE DEAD poster for Jason and a DAY OF DEAD one for me (I prefer DAWN to DAY also but Jason was lucky to snag his last available poster). We asked Romero if he wouldn’t mind doing an intro for our home made video. He said he would but kept flubbing the lines. It was actually pretty comical. Each time he’d mess up, he’d insist on being given another chance to get it right. So we not only received a video plug from Romero, but also plenty of bloopers!
The convention was very crowded and I heard a lot of complaints from fellow participants. I’m not sure if it was our careful planning or just blind luck, but we wouldn’t have changed a thing. We drove home constantly uttering the phrase, “I can’t believe we did it!” It was just an amazing experience and one we’ll never forget. Believe it or not, you’ve only heard ”half” the story. This convention also featured a special tribute to the late Maila Nurmi - Vampira. It would see the largest gathering of horror hosts from across the country. Little did I know at the time, my Svengoolie-centric world was about to bust wide open!