Monday, March 5, 2012

House of Dark Shadows most notorious 'lost scene'

"Lost" movie scenes hold a certain mystique for film fans. The interactive nature of DVDs and the shrinking gap between a movie's theatrical release and it's home video release date have tarnished this allure. It hasn't helped that many modern filmmakers can't seem to wait to show you the wires and seams holding their movie's together.

So called "deleted scenes" simply don't have time to ferment these days. Did you notice a bit of footage in the trailer for IRON-MAN that didn't appear in the final film? Fear not! In six months you'll have a half-hour of additional deleted scenes, commentary on those scenes, documentaries about the shooting of those scenes, etc. Compare that with a movie like ALIEN, which included a handful of deleted scenes that accumulated a mythic power during the 10+ years they were locked in a vault.

HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS is the proud parent to one of Hollywood's most notorious cut scenes. It's a quick moment that accounts for  less than a minute of screentime: Collinwood governess Maggie Evans finds her student, David, hanging by the neck inside of a closet (see the photos above.) The whole thing is a prank on David's part and he soon vanishes from the scene of the crime, prompting a further search of the grounds. Here's how the scene was scripted, taken from The Dark Shadows Movie Book:

And here are some production notes written by director Dan Curtis.

 The scene also appeared in the Marilyn Ross novelization of House of Dark Shadows:

Sadly, it is increasingly unlikely that we will ever get to see this footage. Proposed release dates for the DVD release of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS continue to be pushed back, and even if the film gets a digital release it remains unknown if this footage still exists. Official accounts claims the footage was destroyed, which was common in the days before affordable home video granted this kind of material a second-market value.

It's worth mentioning that this scene was cut by director Dan Curtis and not the studio. It must have been a relatively late decision, though, because photos of the scene were released to the press as part of the movie's marketing. You can see another photo of the scene  from 16 Magazine HERE.


perkins_brothers_dot_com said...

It should have remained in the movie. I find it hard to believe that Dan Curtis estate would not have a copy of the original cut of the film.....???

Cousin Barnabas said...

The two movies are actually owned by MGM. It's my understanding that the footage was discarded. At any rate, it's never been found, even during the search for the "presumably lost" footage from NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS.

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