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.