Sunday, November 12, 2006

Movies: House of Dark Shadows

• TV vampire Barnabas Collins goes Hollywood.

Genres: Horror, vampire
Released: 1970
Director: Dan Curtis
Cast: Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Roger Davis, Nancy Barrett, Joan Bennett
Verdict: &&

It's no wonder that writers like Anne Rice and movies like Near Dark attempted to turn the vampire genre inside out: How many times can audiences watch people poking around dark, coffin-filled cellars and dispensing silver bullets? This movie spinoff of the popular 1966-1971 TV vampire soap finds Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid, looking like a middle-aged Lukas Haas) creeping about Collinswood mansion, doing exactly the things you'd expect. To its credit, the movie avoids a few of the standard vampire movie clichés; there are no garlic necklaces, scenes of painful transformation or a demented Renfield type. House of Dark Shadows brings one original idea to the table: A doctor who sniffs out Barnabas isolates a cell in the victims that she believes can cure him. Dignified monster that he is, Barnabas lets her treat him with the injections, which allow him to appear in the daytime. In the capable hands of director Dan Curtis, this drawing room horror is skillfully executed but ultimately too cut from the same cape as all the other vampire cinema of its time.


Ma Titwonky said...

I loved the tv show Dark Shadows. It was absolutely terrible in a hilarious kind of way if you know what I mean. It would be fun to see the movie you've written about just to see all those godawful characters again.

Jebb said...

That's one of the things I admire about the recently departed Dan Curtis. He may have played with all the old cliches, but he did so-bad-it's-good really well.