Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Famous Monsters sounds the death knell for DARK SHADOWS

(Note: I've got mixed feelings about sharing this feature. The text of this article is not among Famous Monsters' best ... given the magazine's proud tradition of purple prose, that's saying a lot. A few years earlier, Famous Monsters showcased DARK SHADOWS with interviews and lengthy photo series, but NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS received a fairly mundane summary and a selection of badly cropped photos. After sharing the magazine's other features on DARK SHADOWS, I felt obliged to include this one, which only gets interesting during its final paragraphs. 

If this issue is evidence of anything, it's that the death knell of DARK SHADOWS had been heard by everyone by the time this magazine hit the racks in 1971. Even the ever cheery cheerleader that was Famous Monsters couldn't muster the enthusiasm to pretend another film or television was on the way. While the magazine's story about NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS is forgettable, the show's obituary at the end is heartfelt.)


Wouldn't you be scared out of your skin if you came upon your own skeleton from a previous life? Well, that's the predicament that Quentin is in as he discovers the mortal remains of himself when, in a past existence, he was known as Charles Collins.


Imagine a great old decaying dark house, a survivor from the 19th century, where you might expect to be served a meal by a butler resembling Boris Karloff.

Walk down the dimly-lit gallery, where the ghost of Ann Radcliffe might materialize from behind a great gray curtain.

You are there: in the macabre mansion known as — Collinwood.

And to Collinwood comes young artist Quentin Collins (David Selby), who has just inherited the vast estate. With him, his bride Tracy (Kate

The young pair are awestruck by the hugeness of the house and the lavishness of its furnishings.

On hand to acquaint the pair with their new home is Carlotta the housekeeper (Grayson Hall). Miss Drake has lived in Collinwood since childhood.

High in the upper reaches of the mansion is a tower room. The first night, Quentin is mesmerically drawn to the room. Inexplicably, the next morning he remembers nothing of his nocturnal adventure.
Tracy has her share of concern: at breakfast she is unnerved to observe sinister man staring at her from the grounds. Two large fierce dogs accompany the mysterious man. Carlotta calms her fears by explaining, “He’s Gerard (James Storm), my nephew. He's the caretaker of your estate."

Later,  when Quentin goes to inspect the stables, he meets the man Gerard. Gerard recommends a particular horse to Quentin as being a gentle beast but the recommendation turn out to be far from the truth; the animal proves to be quite wild.

While Quentin is mastering the horse, he suddenly has a strange vision of a funeral.
Stranger yet, the mourners are dressed in the style the early 19th century.

As Quentin’s queer vision fades, his horse bolts, almost galloping into a car driven by Claire Jenkins (Nancy Barrett), a woman who lives with her husband Alex (John Karlen) in a cottage on the estate. They are old friends Of the Collins family.

Quentin. undecided as to which room out of the many he should employ as his studio, asks the advice of Carlotta.

"Why not the tower?” she recommends.

"It's quiet, remote from activity, ideal for concentration.”

Everything Carlotta says is true, and yet … somehow the suggestion fills Quentin with a sense of sinister foreboding.

That night, almost like the somnambulist from Dr. Caligari’s cabinet, Quentin again ascends to the tower. It seems to exert some hypnotic influence over him. Yet the next morning he remembers nothing of the visit.

However, he has another vision. This time the hallucination takes to form of two brothers quarreling in the master bedroom of the estate: one brother if Charles, who resembles Quentin to a remarkable degree; the other, Gabriel (Christopher Pennock), Angelique’s husband.

As the days go by, Quentin is increasingly troubled by visions.

He discovers portraits of Angelique by Charles Collins — or is it imagination? — that he sees Angelique (Lara Parker) being dragged from the tower room by her angry husband.

Quentin continues his nocturnal visits to the strange tower room, which draws him more & more like magnet, like a helpless fly to a spider’s net. And something new has been added: someone awaits him there — the ghost of Angelique! And Angelque is very amorous.

Gerard becomes mad with jealousy and one night attacks Quentin while he is in his trance-like state in the tower. Tracy awakens intervenes; her husband, still mentally in the past, still tries to kill her!

Quentin later remembers nothing of his savage attack on his own wife. He becomes more & more preoccupied with what he calls his “daydreams.”

Carlotta claims to be a reincarnation of the daughter the housekeeper who looked after Collinwood in previous life. From knowledge remembered from her past existence she tells Quentin a terrible truth:
“Angelique Collins was hanged as a witch!"

Anil more: "And you, Quentin Collins, are the reincarnation of Angelique's lover, Charles!”
"No, no! I can't believe it! I won't! cries Quentin.

But slowly, surely, insidiously, Charles’ personality takes over Quentin.

Next, Claire & Alex are attacked in their own cottage. Not by a human, flesh-&-blood prowler, but by — "A ghostly phenomenon!” They warn the young couple: “A upernatural danger threatens us all!”

And that same night Quentin tries to drown his own beloved wife when, under the influence of Angelique the witch, he is drawn to the old ruined swimming pool of the estate.

Terrified Tracy flees to the Jenkins’.

As usual Quentin remembers nothing of what happened during his hypnotic trance and is horrified when Carlotta tells him. She tells him something even more shocking: “Gerard has gone to kill your wife!”

Quentin arrives on the scene in time to see sudden death: his wife killing Gerard in self-defense.

Claire & Alex, Quentin & Tracy return to Collinwood. “It is clear what we must do now: exorcise the ghost of Angelique.”

But all evil spirits resist destruction and Tracy is trapped in cellar room and attacked by the wicked witch Angelique.

In the nick of time, Quentin & Alex save Tracy.

Then Angelique appear to Quentin. “I renounce you, evil spirit!” he cries. “You and the spirit of Charles. Begone!”

The spirit seems to fade (seems) and Carlotta, hysterical, jumps from the tower to her death.
Quentin his bride have had enough. They prepare to leave Collinwood with Claire & Alex Jenkins.
But — one last thing — Quentin returns to the room to get his paintings.

He should not have.

There’s the story behind this latest Dark Shadows film and this (can you take it?) is it:
June 1966.

The first episode of the first Gothic soap opera appears on ABC-TV.

It is called Dark Shadows and no one would then would have predicted how far these sinister shapes would creep.

The action (and there was plenty) took place in Collinwood, an ancient house in Maine. After several months of a plot featuring sinister, but natural, menace. A new element was added that really caused the ratings to soar:

The supernatural.

A vampire entered the corridors of Collinwood in the the darkly attractive form of Jonathan Frid.
And Dark Shadows settled into a supernatural groove that attracted a fantastically varied audience in the millions. Among the most faithful of the Dark Shadows fans (to this editor's certain knowledge): Fritz Lang. far-famed director of M. DR. MABUSE, THE WEARY DEATH, THE SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR and many other film classics.

Character actress Grayson Han became the familiar figure of the lady doctor who a contracted a case of vampiritis— that is, she fell in love with Jonathan Frid.

Quentin Collins was a malevolent ghost from the past of the old house.

Lara Parker was the witch who brought men to their doom.

Chills & thrills were provided by the many plots of varying lengths, often (via "'parallel time") taking place in other centuries, Worlds of If where even more variations of the familiar characters were introduced.

For awhile there was a Frankensteinian element to the episodes; at another time, a, wolfman was featured.

Last year Dan Curtis produced the first full-length film version of the TV series and HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS was one of the big horror hits o the year. The 82nd issue of FM featured a 10-page filmbook on the movie.

Early in '71, Dark Shadows, after five frightening years, finally went the way of all flesh (?) and "died". Not since the discontinuance of Star Trek did fans set up such a howl of protest.

To satisfy frustrated D.S. fans holding their breath for more of their favorite phantoms, MGM (Macabre Ghost Movies) has now produced the sequel to the original. Production, appropriately enough, began with a funeral and a mausoleum. The Weatherman cooperated to produce cold & drizzly day so that the mourners had an authentically woebegone appearance.

The séance scene promises to be one of the most nearly authentic ever seen on the screen as it was supervised by a world-famous authority on psychic phenomenon. When the mediumistic sequence photographed in the dimly-lit gallery of Collinwood, several takes were spoiled by

Ghosts, rapping with one another?

Well, that about wraps it up,


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