House Of Dark Shadows, based on the very popular TV Gothic soap opera, follows the life (or is that AFTERlife) of Barnabas Collins. Recently unleashed from his coffin by local drunk, Willie Loomis, the vampire (Barnabas) goes on a killing spree, while at the same time charming his present day family members. In the process he meets local girl Maggie Evans and notices that she looks exactly like his deceased fiance Josette. Barnabas assumes that she is the reincarnation of Josette, and plans to make him his unholy bride for eternity. Written by
Nate Gardner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I usually see director Dan Curtis as economical, but in a plain sense (which sees him in a lot of made for TV features) and there's some of that evident in the traditional, but always sophisticated and eerie low-budget (it shows) tragic horror 'House of Dark Shadows'. However amongst the cramp and basic brushes, there's also a stylish guidance to some of the moody imagery (like the visually crisp finale that captures your imagination). The premise about vampirism is quite cookie-cutter involving an old aged vampire seeking his lost love and finding it in the appearance of a young lady that closely resembles his true love. However it does try to turn some conventions upside down, as for the fascinating spin involving a possible cure but at its core the customary staples of afflicting romance and bloodlust (which is doesn't cop out on) create a certain offbeat charm. Will we ever tire of the sullen lovelorn vampire, with impulsively violent tendencies. No, not really. Sam Hall and Gordon Russell's material is interestingly penned (even with its blunt script); as it doesn't take long to break out the soapy drama and go on to let the explaining stream through as the dreamy story unfolds. This makes the opening if so feel a little creaky and muddled, but soon it shapes up for a tightly driven and crafty fable that achieves a few surprises. Although the cutaway editing falls on the abrupt side, making certain sequences lose some edge (namely those moments focusing on the violence, but still keeping intact its nasty side) and the camera-work can fall in the pattern of loosing focus with a certain blurry haze, but still managing to pull out some fluidly captured frames. Along the way are quickly placed jolts (on the editing's part), but also well drilled suspense and hysteria. The performances are mainly well-judged. Jonathan Frid bestows confidence, and a rigid quality as Barnabas Collins the century old vampire. He looks creepy under all of that heavy make-up in the latter scenes. Thayer David and Grayson Hall stand out in their roles too. The lovely Kathryn Leigh Scott brings the right sort of finesse and innocence to her part and Nancy Barrett makes great of her biting (literally that is) performance. Also Joan Bennett and Roger Davis fair up. Laid on thick is such a menacingly gloomy atmosphere made more so effective by the Gothic engraved art direction of interiors, shadowy locations of the secluded woods and not forgetting the stinging score arrangement that breathes quite heavy. No great shakes, but admirably poignant and uncanny minimum horror.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?