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House of Dark Shadows

House of Dark Shadows – 1970
Dan Curtis

Sam Hall
Gordon Russell

Jonathan Frid
Grayson Hall
Kathryn Leigh Scott

Review by Wayne Malin

Just great,

Based on the “Dark Shadows” TV show which was a Gothic soap opera than ran from 1966-1970.

Basically this just takes most of the plots from 1966-1967 and crams them into 90 minutes. Vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) is accidentally released from his coffin after being chained in there for over 100 years. He poses as a cousin from England and gets friendly with the present Collins family. He quickly falls in love with beautiful Maggie Evans (Kathryn Leigh Scott) and Dr. Hoffman (Grayson Hall) tries to discover a cure for his vampirism. But things start to fall apart when Hoffman falls in love with Barnabas….

This was made when the TV series was at the height of its popularity. It was shot in two weeks VERY quickly with most of the original cast (while the TV show was still in production). You really don’t have to know the original series to enjoy this movie…the characters are all introduced (very quickly). It’s pretty obvious this movie was edited severely–the story moves VERY quickly and you’re playing catchup most of the time. Still, I had no trouble following it. Also they pour on the blood here–throats are torn open, vampires are staked all with plenty of gushing red blood (this would NOT get a PG today–it would probably get a hard R rating). Producer/director Dan Curtis decided he would show everything he couldn’t get on TV–and he did!

The story moves quickly, the violence and gore is strong, the locations are just gorgeous, there’s tons of atmosphere, all the acting is good and there are quite a few nice jolts. Frid is just great as Barnabas, John Karlen is good as his servant Willie, Scott does wonders with the thankless victim role she’s given and Roger Davis plays the hero very well. Nancy Barrett especially is sexy and terrifying as a vampire–her staking is a definite highlight of the film.

So…where’s the DVD version with the edited footage? It was announced back in 2001…it’s now 2008!

A strong, tight horror film. Perfect viewing for Halloween night. Highly recommended!

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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