By Craig Hamrick
Night of Dark Shadows
At the end of House of Dark Shadows, Barnabas is staked by Jeff Clark, but in keeping with vampire movie tradition, Dan Curtis wanted to resurrect Barnabas for a sequel. Leery of being typecast, however, Jonathan Frid opted not to take part, so Curtis came up with another concept.
Night of Dark Shadows (NODS) is more of a traditional ghost story, featuring David Selby and Kate Jackson as newlyweds Quentin and Tracy Collins, who have just inherited Collinwood as the movie begins. Upon moving in, they find it haunted by the fetching ghost of Angelique Collins, who floats around the house in an extremely low-cut, see-through white nightgown.
Like House of Dark Shadows, this film was shot at Lyndhurst, a palatial estate in Tarrytown, New York, with one line of dialogue about the recent death of Elizabeth Collins Stoddard to explain why there was no character continuity between HODS and NODS. Much of the same cast was present, but as often happened on the TV series, they played different roles.
This time Nancy Barrett and John Karlen played Clair and Alex Jenkins, a husband-and-wife mystery writing team and best friends of Quentin and Tracy. Grayson Hall portrayed Carlotta Drake, a menacing housekeeper who spends most of the movie glaring at Tracy and encouraging Quentin to explore his past-life memories of a relationship with Angelique. (At long last, Grayson finally gets to sport a contemporary hairdo and colorful, mod threads.)
Shortly after the couple arrives at the Collinwood, Carlotta suggests that artist Quentin set up a painting studio in mansion's lonely tower room, knowing full well that this is where Charles Collins (Quentin's look-alike ancestor) and Angelique met for painting-and-makeout sessions in the 1800s. In no time, Quentin is experiencing hot-and-heavy flashbacks and taking on the surly personality of Charles. His flashbacks include memories of Charles' wife, Laura (Diana Millay); and his brother, Angelique's husband, Gabriel (Christopher Pennock).
In a series of foggy dreams and daydreams, Quentin "remembers" the story of Angelique's tragic murder: Driven mad by their spouses' infidelity, Laura and Gabriel plotted with a fanatical reverend (Thayer David) to have Angelique declared a witch and hanged from a tree right outside Collinwood. Shortly before her untimely demise, Angelique shared a spiritual moment with young Sarah Castle, daughter of the housekeeper (Clarice Blackburn). It is Sarah, who has kept Angelique's spirit alive, as Sarah's spirit lives on in Carlotta. Ingesting all this information makes Quentin an evil grouch, as he becomes possessed by Charles' spirit. He snaps at Tracy, spends time locked in the tower room, and tries to kill her a couple of times.
| || |
Kate Jackson and David Selby played newlyweds spending a haunted honeymoon at Collinwood.
Upset by the transformation of her husband, Tracy turns to Clair and Alex, who try to help. Carlotta's nephew (Jim Storm) threatens everyone, and eventually gets killed. Then for no particular reason, Carlotta leaps from the top of the tower to her death. Quentin comes to his senses and he and Tracy leave the haunted house. But, as movie-goers no-doubt cried out "don't do it!" Quentin goes back inside for something he has forgotten. When he lingers too long, Tracy goes in to check on him and discovers, with a piercing scream, that Angelique has finally taken full possession of Quentin and now advances murderously toward Tracy as the film ends.
The behind-the-scenes story of the making of the film Night of Dark Shadows has become legendary. Critics and fans panned the 1971 film for having a disjointed plot and shallow character development. The movie seems to be missing something -- and in fact it is.
As the story goes, Dan Curtis delivered a two-hour version of the film to MGM executives who then demanded that it be cut, literally overnight, to a 90-minute running time. Under the pressure of that deadline, the film was slashed, and much of the heart of what could have been a romantic, chilling ghost story ended up on the cutting-room floor. For decades, it seemed that footage was lost forever. (We know this because the full script survived and was published by Pomegranate Press in The Dark Shadows Movie Book.) But after an exhaustive search, film historian Darren Gross finally located much of the missing footage in August 1999, and he is now spearheading a drive to produce a restored version of this movie. Click here to read more about the restoration.
| || |
Lara Parker played the sexy ghost of Angelique in NODS.
The choppily-edited film was not popular with reviewers. Variety found the plot confusing. The New York Post called it monotonous. And The New York Times said it was an "illustration that the pseudosinister can be a bore, even without vampires."
There were some backhanded compliments. "The movie itself is not quite as awful as you might expect," said Glend Padnick of Boston After Dark. "But there's little positive to be said about a horror movie that doesn't contain one scary moment. It's is very dull."
Most reviews noted that the film's setting was its biggest asset, complimenting the cinematography and Lyndhurst, the gorgeous mansion used as Collinwood.
Night of Dark Shadows Cast
(click actors' names for biographical information)
David Selby -- Quentin Collins/Charles Collins
Grayson Hall -- Carlotta Drake
Kate Jackson -- Tracy Collins
Lara Parker -- Angelique Collins
John Karlen -- Alex Jenkins
Nancy Barrett -- Clair Jerkin
Jim Storm -- Gerard Stiles
Thayer David -- Rev. Strack
Christopher Pennock -- Gabriel Collins
Diana Millay -- Laura Collins
Monica Rich -- Sarah Castle
Clarice Blackburn -- Mrs. Castle
Dark Shadows © Dan Curtis Productions. All rights reserved.
Dark Shadows Online © 2004 Craig Hamrick.