Friday, March 4, 2011

Continuing the Collinwood Saga....The Movies!

Yesterday I waxed poetic on DARK SHADOWS and its beginnings - today I'm gonna talk about the new movie, starring JOHNNY DEPP, and also the first two DS movies, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS AND NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS.

IN 1970, MGM gave Dan Curtis the go-ahead for a movie version of the soap. Curtis decided to do a movie wherein, instead of becoming a tragic hero, Barnabas remained evil and was destroyed, as was the original fate of the character. the result was a film more graphically violent than its tv counterpart, with ten times the bloodlust. Released at the height of DS's "golden age", it was a commercial, if not a critical success. the plot started out similar: Willie, hunting for Naomi Collins' jewels, releases Barnabas from his coffin - by that time Alexandra Moltke had left the show to have a baby, so the governess role was filled by Kathryn Leigh Scott as Maggie Evans - Barnabas, as in the soap, notices her resemblance to Josette and wishes to make her his bride. There were, of course, differences: prime among them the death of practically every major cast member. CArolyn is turned into a vampire and staked; so are Roger and Professor Stokes. Julia is strangled by Barnabas after she turns him into an old man in a jealous rage. About the only characters left alive at the end are David Collins (he appears at the beginning and we never see him again), Jeff Clark (Viki's true love on the soap, now Maggie's) Maggie, and, perhaps....Barnabas? It's amazing how after having a harpoon crash through his chest the guy can still turn into a bat and fly away (hoping for a sequel, of course). However, by the time they were ready for a sequel, the show was off the air and Frid had moved onto other projects so...they threw - and I mean threw - together NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS.

NIGHT had the potential to be the far superior of the two - however, it was rushed into production and before release, many key scenes were cut from the film (execs claimed it ran too long) making it a disjumbled, confusing mass. The story focused on Quentin Collins (the shows werewolf heartthrob, played by David Selby, was just an ordinary guy in this movie) his wife (Kate Jackson, of Charlie's Angels and Scarecrow and Mrs. King fame) who move into the collins mansion after Barnabas has destroyed the family and Mrs. stoddard has passed on. The house is haunted by the spirit of Angelique, who, while still a witch, pines for her lost love Quentin and not Barnabas. The movie rockets back and forth with confusing flashback and dream sequences until finally reaching a totally predictable conclusion. It's been said the missing scenes would have explained a lot and smoothed out the wrinkles, but unfortuately the footage was lost, and nothing was ever re-shot, which might explain why it's never been released on VHS, let alone DVD.

All of which brings us to...the present.

In July 2007 Warner Brothers (which brings us SUPERMAN, BATMAN, FANTASTIC FOUR, ETC) bought the rights to Dark Shadows from the estate of Dan Curtis. shortly thereafter, WB announced it was teaming with Johnny Depp and his production company to bring DS to the big screen. Depp partnered with another fan/friend of his, Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd, etc). both were huge fans of the show as kids. Post-production began in January of this year, with a planned 2012 release. Johnny will star as Barnabas, and recently signed on were Helena Bonham CArter as Dr. Hoffman and Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Stoddard. Tim Burton's films are always dark and mysterious - we can't wait to see what he does with this. And Depp is good in these period pieces (remember LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW?)

There are many trailers and videos on this to check out on You Tube. click here to find some good ones:

So meow, my work is done! You've all been brought up to date and I hope this whets your appetite for DARK SHADOWS! I know mine is!

Until next week,


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