DVD Review: The House of Dark Shadows

The House of Dark Shadows is a film based on the popular soap opera, made in 1970 while the show was still running and while some of the original cast were still around. It’s a highly compressed version of the first 100 episodes or so starting with Barnabas Collins’s resurrection, with some events and characters rearranged.

The film begins with Maggie Evans and another young woman whom I don’t know named Daphne searching for David Collins, first around Collinwood–which looks like a real house instead of a collection of flimsy sets. Then Maggie goes over to the abandoned old Collins house to look for the boy. Dialog will later establish that Maggie is David’s governess; Vicky Winters is long gone or else, in this version of the story, never existed.

While at the old house, Maggie runs into Willie Loomis, who apparently works for the Collinses and in his spare time hunts for some long-missing jewels. He tells Maggie about an important clue to their whereabouts and, after David’s father Roger fires him a few minutes later, decides this is the right time to follow up by visiting the Collins family crypt.

Willie gets choked - in color!Willie doesn’t find the jewels, but he does find a coffin sealed with chains, which he opens… and the rest of the scene plays out pretty much as it did in the television version except that it’s in color.

As in the television version of events, all we see of Barnabas is a ringed hand.

Oh, and Daphne? No point in getting attached to her. While leaving Collinwood that evening, she walks down a long and spooky avenue of trees toward her car and becomes Barnabas’s first victim before we’re ten minutes into the movie.
Continue reading “DVD Review: The House of Dark Shadows”

DVD Review: More “Dark Shadows” after all

After episode 211 and the arrival of Barnabas Collins, the DVD packaging for Dark Shadows changes. The first set beginning with 211 is called Collection 1–these were issued before The Beginning, if that makes sense. They go up to Collection 26, but I don’t think I’ll be hanging on that long.

I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to continue to write these reviews, but one unresolved story line prompted me to go on: What’s behind the locked door in the basement? This mystery was introduced in the very first episodes, when Victoria Winters wandered down into the basement on her first night at Collinwood, following the sounds of a woman’s sobs. Elizabeth Collins Stoddard refused to leave her home for 18 years because of whatever was in there. I didn’t remember this story at all from my childhood viewing–for awhile, I had the idea that that was where Barnabas’s coffin was hidden, and Elizabeth was keeping guard over a long-hidden family secret.

But the secret behind that door isn’t as old as that. At long last, we’re going to get a peek inside.
Continue reading “DVD Review: More “Dark Shadows” after all”

DVD Review: Dark Shadows–the end of “The Beginning”

Although I’ve put the next series of Dark Shadows on DVD in my queue, I’m not sure I’ll be reviewing any more after this. We’ve come to the part of Dark Shadows that everyone who knows anything about the show is familiar with.

There isn’t much else to tell: Willie Loomis, now played by John Karlen, continues to make himself repugnant by committing petty thefts around Collinwood and threatening the rest of the cast until even his partner-in-crime Jason is sick of it and wants him to go away. But you can’t push Willie around–Willie won’t go. He’s determined to stay around long enough to steal something expensive and shiny; jewels seem to be a special object of fascination for him.

The Painting of BarnabasIt isn’t the ring and medallion displayed in Barnabas’s portrait he’s after, however. According to Collins family tradition, Barnabas went to England and died there and presumably took his valuables with him.

Further research into the family’s history, with David’s assistance, turns up the story of one Naomi Collins, a lady who was once given some gemstones by a pirate and wore them to her grave.

Everyone except for David and Willie thinks that the pirate part of this story sounds silly, but they believe the part about Naomi being buried with her jewelry to be true. Willie is also urged on by the tell-tale sound of a beating heart, although it doesn’t seem to make him feel guilty about anything.
Continue reading “DVD Review: Dark Shadows–the end of “The Beginning””