Decades before Tim Burton thought it was a good idea to bring the TV series Dark Shadows to the silver screen, series creature, Dan Curtis, thought of it first and did so twice. First in 1970 with House of Dark Shadows then a again in 1971 with Night of Dark Shadows.
Both films retell stories from the series with some modifications. First, in House Curtis retold the story of Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid). About how he was released from his coffin prison by Willie Loomis (John Karlen) and took up residence at Collinwood as a “relative from England.” He convinces the rest of the family that he is human and falls in love with the Governess, Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott). Dr. Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall) thinks she may have come up with a way to make Barnabas human again so that he can be with Maggie as a normal person. If you’ve seen Burton’s films much of this should sound strikingly familiar.
In Night Curtis pulled from one of Dark Shadows parallel time lines for his story. Focusing now on Quentin Collins (David Selby), Night tells the story of a Quentin who comes to live in Collinwood with his new wife Tracy (Kate Jackson). He soon becomes possessed by the spirit of is relative Charles Collins who seeks to reunite with his long lost love Angelique (Lara Parker). While this is a different tale of Angelique than that of her obsession with Barnabas, it is still fun to see the return of such a classic character.
Where as House is a classic vampire tale, Night changes things up by being a classic ghost story. And while neither film has any connection character wise, the estate of Collinwood brings both stories together. Also, Curtis’s directorial style ties the films together as well. Both films feel like they could easily fit into the Hammer Horror cannon. The pacing and atmosphere of both films harkens to the great British horror films, the only thing missing is Christopher Lee.
Between the two, House is a much better film, but both of them far surpasses the original series, production wise. The quality of the production on all levels brings the Dark Shadows characters and stories to a whole new level.
These two films represent what Tim Burton’s film should have been like. Had he found a way to capture the atmosphere of what Curtis did here, then he could have had a really great film. If you’re a fan of the Dark Shadows series, or have just discovered it thanks to Burton’s film, you owe it to yourself to check these two films out.
This films are presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. For being farely low budget films from the early 70’s they look fantastic, the transfers on these Blu-ray’s is really great.
Theatrical Trailer each film comes with its original trailer as an extra.
Dan Curtis really raised the bar for what Dark Shadows could be with these two films. It’s a shame this is where the series ended. These aren’t the greatest films, but they are true to the series and very entertaining.
Warner Bros. presents House of Dark Shadows. Written by: Sam Hall and Gordon Russell. Directed by: Dan Curtis. Starring: Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall and Kathryn Leigh Scott. Running time: 97 min. Rating: GP. Released: October 30, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Warner Bros. presents Night of Dark Shadows. Written by: Sam Hall. Directed by: Dan Curtis. Starring: David Selby, Kate Jackson and Grayson Hall. Running time: 94 min. Rating: GP. Released: October 30, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: dark shadows, tim burton