Thursday, October 23, 2008

House of Dark Shadows(1970)d/Dan Curtis

Dan Curtis,master of television horror,the man responsible for 1,225 episodes of the groundbreaking hit gothic soap opera,Dark Shadows,successfully took his act to the big screen in 1970,spawning a sequel a year later(coming soon to this site,keep your eyes peeled!).Essentially a condensed cinematic version of four years worth of the same tv hijinks he'd been serving up Shadows fans,the film is an enjoyable if somewhat predictable vampire romp for anyone who loved the show,packed with a few bloody sequences and adequate performances from all involved.The only glaring complaint I can manage is the one brush stroke characterization of most major characters from the show may leave those unfamiliar with the soap opera scratching their heads before too long.
Someone's been raising cane around Collinwood.
Willie Loomis(Daughters of Darkness' John Karlen),handyman for the Collinwood(turned Collins-Stoddard)clan,searches for the missing Collins jewels in the family crypt.He stumbles onto a chain-laden coffin,and upon opening it unwittingly frees a 200 year old vampire from his cursed resting place.At the same time as bodies begin popping up near the estate,the family is paid a visit by their cousin Barnabas from England(who's a dead ringer for the Barnabas Collins who lived some 200 years earlier...hmmm),even producing the lost family jewels as a gift and requesting a stay in the old mansion next door.He turns cousin Carolyn into a vampire,but notices governess Maggie's uncanny resemblance to his lost love Josette,and focuses on rekindling his old flame.Carolyn,jealous and bitter,tries to turn her brother David into a blooddrinker,earning her a stake through the heart at the hands of Professor Stokes(a professor who almost instantly buys into the concept of modern-day vampires,fancy that!).
Barnabas Collins(Jonathan Frid)prepares to plant a vampiric hickey.
Dr. Hoffman(Grayson Hall) inspects the vampire's victims,and manages to isolate a bacteria that causes the illness,and before too long discovers Barnabas' secret identity,offering him a cure for the curse that has plagued him for two centuries.This treatment allows Collins to walk in the sunlight and quells his blood hunger after a while,but when Hoffman gets wind of his plans for Maggie,she gets jealous and overdoses him on the drug,causing him to age 200 years in minutes!Barnabas kills the doctor and goes on a rampage,killing nearly everybody and turning them into vampires,before planning his wedding with his reincarnated beloved,leaving only Maggie's boyfriend Jeff and Willie to rush to thwart the vampire's scheme at the conclusion of the film,which you'll have to watch for the action packed details...
Carolyn(Nancy Barrett)has matters of the heart at stake.Ouch.
Some have slagged off the big screen adaption of the hit series,but in my opinion,it actually improves on the tv show,in production values and special effects,both sorely lacking during the soap's early days.Curtis' sequel Night of Dark Shadows was a sort of swan song for the Dark Shadows phenomenon,and that same year,1971,marked the end.The series itself enjoyed a rebirth on videotape in the 90's,although neither film has been released on dvd at the time of this writing.I'm giving the first film:
Barnabas is not all pleased with the turnout at his wedding.


Oscar1986 said...

interesting blog, good movie reviews

beedubelhue said...

Thanks buddy!


Connect with Facebook