Monday, March 21, 2016

In which Dark Shadows goes full camp

It’s often said that DARK SHADOWS is “camp,” an opinion to which I’ve never subscribed. Yeah, it can sometimes be awkward, frustrating or — god help us — unintentionally funny. But if you were to find a scientific method for measuring camp, I’d bet that STAR TREK would rank much higher. “Camp” implies that the creators of DARK SHADOWS were in on the joke, when there was no joke being made in the first place.

But I’m OK with camp. And this DARK SHADOWS fan film, titled BACK FROM THE GRAVE TO HAUNT ME, is about as campy as a film can get without an appearance by Devine. I usually hate fan films — at least, those made by adults who should know better — but there’s a charm to this one that’s undeniable. It’s a little rough around the edges (the story kind of wanders) but the performances will make it worth your time. Darryl Schaffer is the MVP here … he not only does the best Jonathan Frid impersonation you’re ever going to hear, but a spot-on Grayson Hall, as well. (His Louis Edmonds is a little wobbly, though.)

BACK FROM THE GRAVE TO HAUNT ME was shot during the summer in 2011, mostly at Seaview Terrace — the Rhode Island mansion used for the exterior shots of Collinwood in the original DARK SHADOWS series.

“The owner's daughter, Denise Carey, was kind enough to allow us to film there and she also plays the part of Carolyn Stoddard,” said Kimberlee Arnott-Weidman, who wrote and directed the movie. “It basically was filmed in one weekend.”

Arnott-Weidman said BACK FROM THE GRAVE TO HAUNT ME received a standing ovation after a screening at the 2011 Dark Shadows Festival, and that a sequel — CURSE OF THE FULL MOON — was shot the following year. The sequel features DARK SHADOWS cast members Sharon Smyth Lentz and Kathleen Cody, and spiritual medium Chip Coffey.

Just so you know what you’re getting yourself into, BACK FROM THE GRAVE TO HAUNT ME features a battle of wills between Barnabas Collins and a dog named Rodolfo, as well as an appearance by Pee-wee Herman. It goes to some strange places. You can watch the film below.

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