House of Dark Shadows (1974)

“I have found my Josette — and this time, there will be that wedding.”

House Dark Shadows Poster

Synopsis:
A recently unleashed vampire (Jonathan Frid) woos a young woman (Kathryn Leigh Scott) who looks eerily like his long-lost love; meanwhile, a female doctor (Grayson Hall) with a crush on Frid attempts to “cure” him.

Genres:

Review:
Based on the cult daytime television series “Dark Shadows” (1966-1971), this gothic horror tale is essentially an extended take on one of the show’s most popular storylines: a 235-year-old vampire named Barnabas Collins (Frid) who emerges from a centuries-long imposed slumber to wreak havoc on his modern-day descendants. It’s fairly standard fare, without much to distinguish it — though the sets are atmospheric, there are a few effectively scary sequences (including the graphic death of one newly “turned” vampire), and impressive make-up is used to age Collins (see still below). However, only true fans of the vampire genre — and/or fans of the original T.V. series — need bother seeking this one out. Watch for Joan Bennett in a small role as the family’s matriarch; she starred in the television series as well.

Note: According to TCM, House of Dark Shadows has the distinction of the being the only feature-length film based on a daytime soaper.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Atmospheric sets
    House Dark Shadows Sets
  • Effective aging make-up
    House Dark Shadows Aging

Must See?
No. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.

Links:

One Response to “House of Dark Shadows (1974)”

  1. A once-must, for those interested in it as a cult item.

    When I was growing up, ‘Dark Shadows’ was a rare tv show indeed. A soap opera about vampires. Who expected that? I welcomed it. I ran home from school at the end of the day to embrace it. It was the ‘Twin Peaks’ of its day.

    This film version is a condensation of the events that took place on tv. It’s actually better since it speeds things up a bit. (The tv show tended to take its good old time; not that we cared – the novelty, and all that.)

    What’s odd about the film version is that it seems…midway-through…that the DP went to the director and said something like “You do realize we’re making this for the big screen and not tv…?” Because, midway, the film begins to become something more like a film. Stylistically, there’s a change. All for the better.

    This is not a great film by any means. However, cult enthusiasts will want to check it out.

    It *does* feature Grayson Hall (deservedly Oscar-nominated for her performance in ‘Night of the Iguana’; she’s no less intriguing here, tho she was primarily interested in her stage work).

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