Friday, February 12, 2016

Are there DARK SHADOWS in Disney’s Haunted Mansion?

Even with the cost of visiting their parks rising to exorbitant, borderline unholy levels, Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction is enough to justify at least one trip to a Disney theme park in your life. It's just that good.

The attraction got off to an incredibly rocky start, though. The mansion made its first appearance on Disneyland’s official souvenir maps in 1958, but construction on the project didn’t commence until three years later. By 1963, it had still not opened to the public, and Walt Disney’s death in 1966 brought the project to a thudding halt. The park’s “Imagineers” pooled their resources to find out how to salvage the concept, drawing from such influences as Robert Wise’s THE HAUNTING, the 1927 feature THE CAT AND THE CANARY and Jean Cocteau BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

In 1969, the mansion finally opened its doors to visitors. The concept later expanded to Disneyworld in 1971, Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, Disneyland Paris in 1992, and Hong Kong Disneyland in 2013.

What does this have to do with DARK SHADOWS, you ask? The author of LONG FORGOTTEN, a blog devoted Disney’s Haunted Mansion, believes that the changing portrait of Josette DuPres — the perpetually doomed damsel of DARK SHADOWS — might have inspired one of the images in the attraction’s “changing portrait gallery.”

The gallery was the work of lead artist and animator Marc Davis, who designed many of the original scenes found at The Haunted Mansion. Davis had a storied career with Disney, designing many of their most iconic characters, including “Snow White,” “Maleficent,” “Tinker Bell” and “Cruella de Vil.”

While most of Davis’ work on The Haunted Mansion was done before 1965 (a year before the debut of DARK SHADOWS), it appears the April-December portrait wasn’t added to the gallery until sometime in 1968.

The portrait of Josette made its first appearance on DARK SHADOWS on episode 70 of the series, which aired Sept. 30, 1966. The portrait was seen frequently on the series, but it’s the episode that aired Jan. 12, 1968, that the author thinks inspired the April-December Portrait. (Coincidentally, this is the episode voted by our readers as being the best of the entire series.)

The portraits of Josette DuPres and "April-December."
Here's a quick summary: As a challenge to his new wife, Angelique, Barnabas Collins has placed the portrait of his former love, Josette, over the mantle in their home. Not one to ever be outdone, Angelique casts a spell that transforms Josette’s painted image into that of a monster. You can see the two illustrations above, as well as the transformation of the April-December portrait from The Haunted Mansion.
“The point is, there is no evidence that April-December existed before the DS episode featuring the morphing Josette portrait aired,” the author concludes. “April's absence is particularly noticeable when we take into account how often the other changing portraits make appearances. That doesn't prove any kind of connection, of course, but it does mean that there is currently no chronological obstacle to the theory that Marc got the idea for April-December from Dark Shadows. For the record, I am of the opinion that he did.”
Sadly, the “April-December” image was removed from the changing portrait gallery back in 2005. As for the artist’s original inspiration? Well, Disney is notoriously tight-lipped about such things. Almost 60 years after its release, we still have only the word of Maila Nurmi — TV’s “Vampira” — that she served as the inspiration for SLEEPING BEAUTY’s “Maleficent.”

Via: Long Forgotten

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