Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tim Burton blames failure of DARK SHADOWS on DARK SHADOWS

Tim Burton is making the rounds, promoting his latest visually-beautiful-yet-soulless motion picture, BIG EYES. Naturally, journalists are picking at the scabs of his last film, DARK SHADOWS. In his efforts to assure people that his latest film will be better, he happily throws his previous movie under the bus.

But it's not his fault DARK SHADOWS wasn't more warmly received, he tells Indiewire: 
INDIEWIRE: The last movie was "Dark Shadows," which was seen as something of a failure. What was your experience on that?  

TIM BURTON: Well it was a weird tone. Because I grew up on that show and the weird thing about it is it had a cult following but it was actually pretty bad. It had the weirdest tone. I always found the tone, even though it was deadly serious, quite comedic. And your feelings always come out. So I always knew that it was dangerous territory because I tried to capture the tone and yet the tone is funny. 
I'm curious? Who's fault was PLANET OF THE APES? MARS ATTACKS? Tim Burton has never been able to tell the difference between a good script and a bad one, and that's the root of his inability to grow as a storyteller. His films have suffered from the same style-over-substance approach since BETTLEJUICE. If he'd spent less time trying to find a "tone" (whatever that means) and developing a coherent screenplay, he might have a bit more luck. Because of his knack for failing upwards, though, it's unlikely he'll ever learn his lesson. And you can't un-bake a cake.

If you want to read the entire interview for yourself, you can find it HERE. You might want to hold your nose first, though. I'm not sure if the author is trying to interview Burton, or sleep with him.

America's theater chains endorse terrorism

Terrorism works!

Just ask Carmike Cinemas, who were the first to fold under the pressure of terror threats on Tuesday. When the so-called "Guardians of Peace" threatened September 11-style attacks on any theaters that dared to show THE INTERVIEW, Carmike traded freedom for safety, essentially endorsing the power of terrorism.

Regal Entertainment liked the idea of terrorism so much that they, too, decided not to show the movie. Within hours, America's top theater chains had come to the consensus that they'd rather have faceless hackers decide what they can show, and when they can show it. It was a chain of events that moved so quickly that even bloggers struggled to keep up: Before all of the dominoes had finished toppling, the besieged Sony Pictures decided to pull the movie entirely.

Here's the text of the threat:

We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places "The Interview" be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.

Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.

The world will be full of fear.

Remember the 11th of September 2001.

We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.

(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)

Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

All the world will denounce the SONY.
I don't especially care about the content of THE INTERVIEW. It's the kind of movie I might watch on Netflix on a lazy Sunday, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings if I never see it ... as long as its my choice. But that's not what's at issue here. As with "The Fappening," it seems that individuals are valuing the thrill of voyeurism over their own privacy. As with Carmike Cinemas (and I'm only singling them out for being the first to flinch) there's a sense that any battle involving Internet privacy has already been lost. Had armed burglars broken into the home of Jennifer Lawrence, stolen her property and posted her personal photos on the Internet, people would probably be a lot more enraged. The same goes for Sony, which has been the victim of a criminal raid more thorough than anything seen in the DIE HARD movies.

And nobody seems to care. "Forget it, Jake. It's the Internet."

The decision to kill the release on a movie is going to have consequences for years to come. We're about to find out what happens when we let anonymous sociopaths dictate the terms of our constitutional, freedoms. When Mitt Romney becomes the voice of reason in any crisis, we're truly through the looking glass.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New arrivals at the CHS library

I love pulp art. From George Rozen to Glen Orbik, there's something about its inherent romanticism that really appeals to me. Because of its hybrid nature, DARK SHADOWS is a property that lends itself well to a lot of different genres, which makes it pretty easy to riff on.

In that spirit, here are a few paperback covers that show off the show's versatility. Above is a faux cover for the upcoming BLOODLUST serial. The "women running from houses" meme was something DARK SHADOWS consciously used in its first year, and I thought it would be a nice fit. Even better, most of those kinds of book covers were interchangeable, which meant there was little chance of intentionally making the artwork spoilery.

Below are a few more covers. The first is another gothic romance design for Big Finish's "Carriage of the Damned." The other two are a bit more obscure ... "The Curse of Collinwood" is a book referenced in the Big Finish audiodrama "The Darkest Shadow." The other is the title of the book mentioned in the closing scroll of NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, and is the novel being written by the characters played by John Karlen and Nancy Barrett.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dario Argento autobiography coming in January

Autobiographies are a lot lot "greatest hits" collections: They're almost always glorified obituaries that mark the end of an interesting, productive life. I tend to approach these kinds of projects with caution and doubt, because these books can also be examples of the worst kind of eye witness accounts. After all, the author has a strong bias for the subject matter.

For example is PAURA (or "FEAR"), director Dario Argento's upcoming autobiography. Argento has had a rich and varied career, with his name appearing in the credits of films such as ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE and the original DAWN OF THE DEAD. There's certainly a lot that can be said about the first act of his career, but I'm not sure the director of DRACULA 3D is the guy to speak on those films.

Argento has been in the throes of a downward spiral since at least the mid-1980s, which is not something we can necessarily blame him for. There's an element of fashion that connects pop artists with their audience, and that connection is so difficult to make that it's a wonder it happens at all. Some fans are still nurturing a grudge against Lou Reed for his changing tastes in the wake of his work with the Velvet Underground, as though he could simply keep riffing on "Heroin" for the rest of his life. Artists can occasionally change the world, but they're also subject to those same changes.

But, Argento's movies have become unwatchable in recent years. I've got a ghoulish curiosity about PAURA, which is due in January. How the hell does he justify movies like GIALLO when stacked against the actual giallo films in his credits?

Argento recently completed a successful Indiegogo campaign to finance his next film, THE SANDMAN. Iggy Pop is set to star in that film, a guy whose career arc looks more than a little like Argento's.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sharon Smyth Lentz joins the cast of NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE

Sharon Smyth Lentz in ON A COUNTRY ROAD.
For a show that's been off the air for more than 40 years, DARK SHADOWS never stops giving me things to write about.

This weekend, it was announced that Sharon Smyth Lentz — who played the little sister of Barnabas Collins on the original DARK SHADOWS — had joined the cast of NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE.

It's only surprising if you haven't been paying attention. Sharon has become very active in independent film, working on both sides of the camera on films such as ON A COUNTRY ROAD and POTENT MEDIA'S SUGAR SKULL GIRLS.

NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE is scheduled to begin production in 2015. It's a supernatural thriller about ghosts, reincarnation and destiny that owes a small debt to a certain daytime drama.

"This movie has obviously been very influenced by DARK SHADOWS," Lentz said. "There are many elements to it that just feel like Collinwood all over again!"

Lentz and Jonathan Frid on DARK SHADOWS.
The film also features a "little ghost girl," she said.

"I can tell you that it is a very well written script, and there are some fantastic actors involved," Lentz said. "I feel truly blessed to have been able to audition for a part in this movie."

NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE stars Lauren Holly (PICKET FENCES, DUMB AND DUMBER),Conrad Goodie (ONE TREE HILL), Kimberly Estrada and Academy Award nominee Sally Kirkland.

Follow the movie's production at its official Facebook page HERE. 

Via Horror Society.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Kathryn Leigh Scott in HARVEY, 1975

Kathryn Leigh Scott and James Stewart on stage at
I don't know that there's any such thing as a "typical" career for an actor. Unlike most jobs, the work is always temporary and transient, forcing actors to pursue job opportunities wherever they might appear. Even actors with the most dedicated representation will spend most of their professional careers unemployed. It's a job you genuinely have to love.

The cast of DARK SHADOWS had careers as varied as their personalities. Despite his more visible movie and TV roles, David Selby seems to love the theater more than any other medium. I fully expect him to die on the stage at age 147, performing JULIUS CAESAR while simultaneously proofreading his latest collection of poetry. Nancy Barrett enjoyed the work, but was distressed by the public ogling that acting brought with it. And I don't think anyone will every truly understand Jonathan Frid's tortured relationship with a craft he otherwise seemed to love.

Kathryn Leigh Scott has one of the most unusual careers of the entire cast. After DARK SHADOWS, she spent some time in Europe where she did everything from dubbing a Roman Polanski movie to reuniting with Dan Curtis on an adaption of THE TURN OF THE SCREW. She made an appearance on the UK-produced SPACE: 1999 and, in 1975, appeared opposite James Stewart in a production of HARVEY at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London. And those are just highlights of the '70s.

Scott admits she was starstruck at first, but had to immediately put those feelings aside and concentrate on the job.

"We became very close friends and we had lunch together twice a week on matinee days," Scott told Pop Culture Addict in 2010. "And he would come to my dressing room and pick me up and we would walk down to the restaurant and on Wednesdays he would pay and on Saturdays I would pay.  It was wonderful because he was like a companion.  We genuinely hit it off.  He was hard of hearing and he wore a hearing aide but there was one time when his hearing aide went out and I made sure he could see my lips."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Collinsport Mail Call!

We get a lot of letters here at the Collinsport Historical Society. Over the years, we've become especially very fond of the nice Nigerian prince who's been exiled and needs our help safeguarding his massive fortune (though he's stopped responding to our messages since we gave him our credit card numbers.)

Some of our mail is complimentary, some of it kind of obnoxious. Occasionally, I'll get a question that I can't answer. So, I thought it would be fun to address some of these messages in a regular feature here on the website. Let's get started!

 "I was looking up something on the Griswold Inn in Essex, CT. Came across your data on Dark Shadows.  I lived in the little White House in Essex next door to 'Evans Cottage.'  I'm still very good friends with the owners ...  It's so funny because as a child, the show was too real for me and was very scary.  Had I known that one day I'd be living in the town and next door to anything or anyone to do with that show I'm sure I would have just lost my mind. Little known fact - one of the stars from the show actually was a neighbor on that same street.  Was with her one summer when the Dark Shadows Fan Club came into town.  We were at the (Evans Cottage) and the fan club knocked on the door to ask if they could take pictures. This person was hiding, begging us not to tell them they were there or where they lived - it was pretty funny.   Was Collinsport actually based in Maine, even tho the backdrops were in Essex and Newport?"
- Jill C.
Hello, Jill! Yep, DARK SHADOWS was set in Maine. The show was filmed in New York City, so it simply wasn't cost effective to haul a film crew to Maine for the occasional exterior shot (which they stopped using after the first few years, anyway.) I guess Essex and Newport looked New England-y enough for the producers.

"Dear sir,  can you tell me the address of the Evans Cottage. I always visit Essex ... I thought it was 17 North Main St. If not, can you help me also how many bed , baths and what is the square footage??
- Egerton L.
I honestly don't know the answer to this one. If any of you want to help Egerton get the most of his trip to Essex, maybe you can point in the right direction in the comments section below?

"Can I ask why you post a story about Seaview being used in a porn movie? It will do nothing but embarrass the owners. I've working on getting inside the house and this isn't going to help."
- Gregory D.
Because I thought it was interesting? And, taking a look the traffic the post received, so did a lot of other people. As for your visit to Seaview, I can't imagine how a blog post would have any impact on your visit, given that you've got zero affiliation with this website. I'd suggest launching a Kickstarter campaign to help you pay for that sense of humor you so desperately need.


"In professional publications, the word is 'poring,' not 'pouring.'  I didn't know this either at your age."
- Roy I.
 I'm 43 years old.
"I enjoyed reading your posting about Joan Bennett in SUSPIRIA. You mentioned you hadn't read any interviews where she discussed the film. I remember reading one, and it was dated ages ago, probably from 1977 or 1978. I have been trying to track it down, but can't find it anywhere.
"Also, she appeared on THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW in 1977 to 'promote' the movie, failed to mention the name of the film, and gave away the ending!"
- J. Inla
I love SUSPIRIA, but suspect Joan Bennett did not. Does anyone now the name of the publication J. is referring to?

"Hello My Name Is Kevin M. From Northern Ireland. A Very Big Fan Of Dark Shadows. Wondering Can I become Member Of Your Society. THANKS!!"
Um ... the show "society" thing is actually a joke. All you have to do to become a "member" is visit this website. So, welcome to the club!

- Wallace McBride

DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE part of Humble Bundle offer

Want to read some good comics while also helping out some worthy causes? Dynamite Entertainment is once again partnering with Humble Bundle for a massive online offer that includes all six issues of DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE.

If you're not familiar with Humble Bundle, it organizes "pay-what-you-want" promotions, which sometimes includes promotions for charity events. Consumers set their own price and decide how to allocate their money between content creators, charity and a "humble tip." This year's holiday offer can either support the book's publishers, or go toward the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which defends first amendment rights of comic book professionals nationwide.

And DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE is only the tip of the metaphorical iceberg for this offer. Readers who choose the "pay what you want" option for the Dynamite Bundle will receive a metric shitload of comics ... 56 books in all, with a value of more than $200. And there are some legitimately great books in this collection, such as Howard Chaykin’s AMERICAN FLAGG! #1-6. There's also the first issue of the new DJANGO/ZORRO crossover, ALICE COOPER, THE GREEN HORNET ... seriously, you have to see this offer to believe it, which you can do HERE.
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