Saturday, October 27, 2012

Child of Dark Shadows

A few weeks ago, Warner Bros provided me the opportunity to give away Blu-ray editions of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS. The catch? You had to come up with an idea for a THIRD film that would have followed them. It was a challenging prospect and I received some really interesting ideas. I'll be sharing some of them here over the next few weeks, but the contest winner is
MELISSA SNYDER. Her imaginative entry not only included a movie poster for her film, CHILD OF DARK SHADOWS, but also a faux DVD review of the film. The story not only introduced Victoria Winters into the cinematic mix, but also brings DARK SHADOWS full circle with its original homage to JANE EYRE. I like to imagine the non-existent movie was shot in a similar manner to SUSPERIA.

You'll note the DVD of CHILD OF DARK SHADOWS also doesn't include any special features :)

Congratulations, Melissa!

DVD review: Child of Dark Shadows  
(MGM, 1973; released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Warner Home Video, 2012)

Collinwood was once a lavish family estate on the rocky coast of Maine, but the last members of the once-proud Collins family died years ago. The great house is now a boarding school run by the stern Revered Isaiah Trask. Most students come to Collinwood after being thrown out of the best schools, but the new girl, Victoria, has just arrived on a charitable scholarship from a foster home in New York.
In addition to the less-than-saintly Trask, the faculty is rounded out by his timid wife Rachel and a melancholy blind music teacher, who is plagued by bloody visions of the past. Victoria’s only friend is Karen, a shy girl suffering from a mysterious illness. While exploring the grounds, the girls encounter the tenant of the old house on the estate, Dr. Joanna Hoffman. Rumor has it that the good doctor’s sister was among the victims of the serial killer who wiped out an entire branch of the Collins family years ago. In the old house, Victoria sees a portrait of a young girl who looks exactly like herself.

A series of accidents and injuries begins to plague the student body; paranormal activity, student pranks, and intruders are alternately blamed, and suspicion falls on the new student. Karen’s sudden death is ruled by Dr. Hoffman to be the result of her illness, but Victoria believes otherwise -and begins to suspect that her friend isn’t really dead at all. Is Victoria losing her mind? Is the Collins bloodline extinct after all? How many times can Dan Curtis go back and draw from the same well? The answers to these questions and many more can only be answered by the Child of Dark Shadows.

Child of Dark Shadows is the third theatrical film based on the cult Gothic TV serial of the same name, which delighted housewives and teenagers from 1966-1971. Like its predecessors House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971), it rehashes some elements of the series, but isn’t afraid to throw in a few gallons of stage blood and a higher body count than the limits (not to mention the network bosses) of daytime TV would allow. CoDS is part of the 1970’s wave of horror films centered around children, that included The Omen, The Exorcist, and Carrie. The production benefits from the inclusion of iconic music by Robert Cobert, as well as casting series regulars Jerry Lacy as the delightfully two-faced Trask, Marie Wallace as the hypochondriac Mrs. Trask, and the late, great Grayson Hall as Dr. Hoffman’s eccentric sister. As with previous Dark Shadows movies, the real-life Lyndhurst - a palatial estate in the Hudson Valley - is a star in its own right in the role of the atmospheric Collinwood mansion.

The picture quality has aged gracefully, maintaining the contrast between the muted palette of the main narrative and the rich, saturated colors of the flashbacks. The mono sound could be clearer, and we could really benefit from some extras beyond the theatrical trailer (Come on, Warner Brothers!). But with the release of House, Night, and Child of Dark Shadows, this has been a banner year for Dark Shadows fans, even those less than impressed with the recent Tim Burton/Johnny Depp quirkfest, which enjoyed a tepid reception from both critics and box office. The whole set is a must for Dark Shadows fans, and a good bet for any fan of 1970's Gothic horror.


majkinja said...

I'm so glad that Victoria is back and I adore Jerry Lacy. Did they bring back Alexandra Isles/Moltke for the part as Victoria?
Yes, the 70s horrors were great.

Barrymore Tebbs said...

Is it true that there was an R rated love scene that was left on the cutting room floor? Why won't Warners restore these bits of lost footage?????

Anonymous said...

This is so clever - I love it. I wish I'd had time to come up with an entry myself, but I doubt it would have stood a chance against this one.

Unknown said...

Come on somebody!! Make that movie!!! Not Tim Burton either, thank you very much!!!!

Barry Dodd said...

Would love to make this into a film. I doubt the rights would ever be given.

Lulu Grandiron said...

Loved much as people (including Isles herself) dismiss Vicki as being "dumb", she was our window into the Collins family for 3 years and I did feel a little empty after she left the series.

Unknown said...

The "remake" was simply awful. I couldn't even get through it. I tried, absolute abominable.
Problem is, it was a complete flop, which means filmmakers won't touch it again for a long time.

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