“I haven’t seen the light of day in almost two hundred years.”
Right this minute, teenage bad boy John Yaeger is in the basement of the Old House, pulling apart the locks and chains that keep Barnabas Collins shut up tight in his coffin. Six weeks ago, the Dark Shadows cast took off for Tarrytown to shoot a feature film, leaving the newcomers and second-stringers to keep the show warm while they’re gone. Now they’re cracking open the mystery box, and once more unleashing Barnabas upon the populace. Dark Shadows is back at work.
To celebrate, I’ve invited actual famous grown-up film critic David Edelstein to come watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows. David’s the film critic for New York magazine, NPR’s Fresh Air and CBS Sunday Morning, and he’s also a lifelong Dark Shadows fan and a friend of the blog.
Five years ago, David wrote a very funny review of the Tim Burton movie, which he figured was his only chance to write about Dark Shadows. But it turns out he’s got more in the tank, so we’re going to watch the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows together, and discuss the whole thing from start to finish. David saw HoDS when it first came out, and he’s always loved it, so yeah, I know, just another example of bias in the mainstream media.
Today’s journey involves Hammer movies, overstuffed sets, inadvertent love triangles, how you can tell it’s daytime, cameos, cannons, the color of blood, and the age-old war between actors and scenery, and it ends with the extermination of everything that you love.
Danny: So how did you get into watching Dark Shadows?
David: Well, vampires weren’t mainstream in the 1960s, the way they are now. I would read Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and beg my dad to take me to the Strand Theater in Hartford, because vampire movies never played in the suburbs. You had to go to the downtown theaters, where people were always yelling at the screen; it was a blast. So seeing a vampire on TV every afternoon was impossibly great. The first Dark Shadows I saw was episode 700, when Barnabas used the I Ching to travel back in time to 1897.
Danny: Oh, that’s a great place to start.
David: Professor Stokes threw down the I Ching wands, and as Barnabas walked through the door — there was one particular image of him in this triangular slash of light, and then the coffin fades in… It was haunting and powerful, and the moment I saw that, I said, I am never going to stop watching this show.
David: I stuck with it to the bitter end, too. We didn’t have video back then, but I tape-recorded the last episode and played it over and over. I must have listened to it a hundred times.
Danny: Oh, I did that with The Muppet Movie, in the early 80s, with a tape recorder in front of the TV. I would listen to The Muppet Movie, with commercial breaks.
David: Exactly! It was so precious back then. The episode was awful, especially Jonathan Frid: Catherine, he’s choking me! But —
Danny: But that’s the only piece of Dark Shadows that you own, at that point.
David: Well, no — I had stacks and stacks of 16 and Tiger Beat, and all the Marilyn Ross books, every one of them.
Danny: Well, that’s a thing that I’ve just learned to love, doing this blog and looking so closely at it —
David: No, I know!
Danny: The Marilyn Ross books, I do not like — the more I read of those, the more I hate them.
David: I loved them. When you wrote about the mummy one, I was reminded of how bad they were, but — I’d just run to the local Doubleday bookstore to see if the latest had arrived, and, oh my god, Barnabas and Quentin vs the Mummy! I could barely wait to get home! And there was one with outer space invaders — Barnabas, Quentin and the Body Snatchers! At the time, it was fantastic.
Danny: And all these things — you couldn’t own the show, that concept didn’t exist, so you would just collect these tokens and talismans.
David: You couldn’t even watch the episodes more than once. Poof, they were gone. But a movie you could see over and over. Also, there was something about watching a TV show on the big screen — if people would pay, would stand around the block to see Dark Shadows — that was a really big deal.
David: So that idea, in and of itself, made House of Dark Shadows an event. Plus, the first commercial for it on network television — just seeing Maggie Evans coming downstairs, and hearing an announcer say, “Barnabas Collins will take a bride!” You know?
David: “See how the vampires do it.” Oh god, so exciting.
Danny: They really played up the sex angle in the publicity — did that feel weird for you, as a kid?
David: No, because the poster had Carolyn with fangs, and blood running down… It felt like a real movie.
David: The Dracula Has Risen from the Grave poster that everybody remembered at the time was just a shot of a very beautiful neck, with a Band-Aid on it. The Gothic lettering, and you always had blood dripping down from the letters — I loved that. You know, when you’re ten years old, that sort of thing doesn’t bother you.
David: Now, as a film critic, I would probably say that this movie violates the spirit of the show, and it does! It violates everything we love about the show! But at the time — it was just another realm that Dark Shadows had penetrated.
David: Dan Curtis didn’t want this to be a feature-length soap, he wanted to make a Hammer movie. Dracula Has Risen From the Grave came out the year before, and was a huge hit. That was the third Christopher Lee Dracula movie, after Horror of Dracula and Dracula: Prince of Darkness. Hammer made their movies incredibly cheaply, but they were known for getting maximum production value for their dollars. They had access to all these great British actors, who were making nothing doing Shakespeare at the National Theater, and were really grateful for the few British film opportunities that they had. Also, the Hammer movies had the same bright red blood that Curtis used. It must have been the same brand of paint.
Danny: Well, that’s the main thing you need. Once you’ve stocked up on red paint…
David: Curtis had his terrific actors, he already had a great score, and he had this story that he couldn’t let go of, with Barnabas coming in and getting a stake through his heart after six weeks…
Danny: And he needed to go make that movie.
Danny: How old were you, when House of Dark Shadows came out?
David: Ten or eleven. It opened on a Friday, so on Saturday, my parents dropped me and some friends off at the Strand — and the lines were around the block, twice.
David: It was packed, and they were letting people in really slowly, like it was some nonstop party. By the time I got in, Carolyn was already a vampire.
Danny: Oh, my gosh.
David: It was on a double-feature with another James Aubrey era MGM movie that I had to sit through, in order to see the beginning of House of Dark Shadows. I would guess the audience at the Strand that day was 80 percent black, and probably very few of them had ever seen Dark Shadows. They were there because it was a vampire movie. And it really worked for them.
Danny: Oh, really?
David: Oh, my god. If you had shown them the Dark Shadows movie that we would have wanted to see, they would’ve hated it, but they screamed! every time a vampire popped up. When Carolyn was sucking on Todd’s neck, and all the blood bubbled up…
Danny: They loved it.
David: Stakes were going into hearts… They went crazy, they loved that movie so much.
Danny: Well, I hope we do too. Are you ready?
Danny: All right, let’s go watch a movie.
Danny: And here we go. The title’s a little bottom-heavy.
David: Well, they changed the title — originally, it was just Dark Shadows.
Danny: I guess they knew making a Dark Shadows movie was ridiculous, so they tried to sneak it by under an alias.
Danny: The first thing that you hear is Kathryn Leigh Scott sighing. That’s the first bit of dialogue, just a frustrated sigh. Maggie is already super sick of being in this movie.
David: And she’s in this little skimpy dress. Dan Curtis puts her in these dresses, no matter what’s going on or what the weather is. But as a horny eleven year old, I didn’t mind a bit. I still don’t.
David: Oh, and look, he’s doing the low-angle thing. The cinematography in this is vastly different from the show, because he doesn’t want to have even a whisper of a television show setup.
Danny: Well, he does this on television, too. He repeats a lot of these gimmick shots in the 1991 revival show, and I’ve just found them oppressive and distracting. I’m going to try to keep an open mind about these, but to be honest, I’m probably not going to try that hard.
David: This was so exciting. You’re a kid, you’ve been watching Dark Shadows, and you see these names on the big screen, in a giant theater! And it looks like a movie, it doesn’t look like a corny TV show.
Danny: It’s super dark, though. You can’t really tell where you are.
David: Well, you’re not supposed to. You’re supposed to see the flashlight, and then the blackness, with the red of the credits, those big bold red credits —
Danny: That does look incredible, yeah.
David: And that tells you there’s blood coming. That’s the color of early 70s blood. In the early 1970s, even hyper-realistic crime movies like The French Connection used a shade of blood that clearly Curtis was really into. It’s a shade that I now associate with lipstick.
Danny: Yeah, like super red, cherry flavored blood.
Danny: So I read the script in The Dark Shadows Movie Book, and they cut at least 20 minutes worth of material.
Danny: Yeah, the script is 118 pages, and the movie’s 97 minutes. And one of the cuts is the first sequence, leading up to Maggie looking for David in the cemetery.
David: David Henesy was supposed to have hung himself.
Danny: Yeah, they establish that Maggie is David’s governess, and Roger is David’s father, and then we see David pretending to hang himself, to make Maggie look bad. So Maggie’s frustrated with her job, and she wants to quit, and leave Collinwood. But without that sequence, you basically have no idea who anybody is; Maggie could be David’s sister. They don’t say the word “governess” for the first 25 minutes.
Danny: Metrocolor! All hail Metrocolor. That was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s trade name for their film processing.
Danny: I looked that up, so I would sound informed next to all your film knowledge.
Danny: I really like this scene, with Willie accosting Maggie and shoving his little grave-robbing poem in her face. She does a lot of acting here, you can tell that she’s really engaged with the scene.
David: John Karlen was a well-known and much beloved stage actor. Kind of a wild man. I knew people at the Yale Rep who had worked with him, and who adored Johnny Karlen. He was having the time of his life during this whole period.
Danny: Now, you’d never seen Willie like this on the show — opening the coffin, getting strangled by Barnabas. Everybody started watching after Barnabas was already out of the box. For the kids in 1970, this must have been like a legend that you never thought you’d see.
David: Now we have a shot — this is not the most egregious, but it’s bad. One of the worst problems with the Hammer movies, and with House of Dark Shadows, is the decision to shoot day for night. Everyone knows the term, it just means that they’re going to underexpose the film, and pretend they shot this at night. They think they’ll correct it in post, but it never looks right.
Danny: And look at him, in the middle of the day, with his little flashlight.
David: These days, with computers, they can do it better. They can make it look like whatever time of day they want. But later on, with Daphne running through the woods…
Danny: And it’s just day, not really for night.
David: It makes the movie look really cheap.
Danny: Now, Willie’s got this little poem that he found somewhere. He says “I found this in an old book,” which is not convincing, and he thinks it’s the key to finding the legendary Collins jewels.
The Madonnas rest high above
The lion’s head watches the dove
David: I guess they couldn’t think of a word that rhymes with “vampire”.
Danny: I love the idea that somebody planted little treasure maps around Collinwood, to give grave-robbers something to do.
Danny: The sound design is fantastic, especially if you’re listening with headphones. The sounds are super sharp and exaggerated. Each step that Willie takes down the stairs has its own specific crunch, it’s like every sound is individually hand-crafted.
Danny: A huge chunk of this movie was reused in the 1991 revival, sometimes shot for shot, but with less appealing actors. They introduce Vicki instead of Maggie and they don’t do the looking-for-David stuff, but Willie’s treasure-hunt poem ends up in the show.
David: Look at Karlen chewing the scenery. Dwight Frye would sit up in his grave and salute. Karlen’s one of the treasures of Dark Shadows. Karlen and Nancy Barrett are the ones that don’t get as much attention as they should. They’re the real bedrock of the show.
Danny: That lion head is not really watching the dove. It’s looking in completely the wrong direction.
David: Girls walking down dark corridors with flashlights, or candles — this is the ur-gothic. Curtis can finally live out his peculiar fantasies on screen, in a way that he couldn’t on TV.
Danny: The script is by Sam Hall and Gordon Russell, which is two-thirds of the show’s writing team, but it doesn’t really sound like Sam Hall’s dialogue. It’s not witty or clever, there are no funny exchanges. It’s not bad dialogue, it’s fine, but it feels like Curtis didn’t want fancy dialogue to distract people from the action.
Maggie: David! David, let me out! David!
Danny: Did you take this personally, when you saw it? That the first ten minutes of the movie is basically just people shouting your name? Like, you were so into this movie, and the movie was also into you.
David: I never thought of it that way.
Danny: They were microtargeting.
David: You just keep thinkin’, Butch. That’s what you’re good at.
Danny: Willie is about to learn why you shouldn’t dig up other people’s stuff just because you read a poem.
David: And there’s poor Joan Bennett, who — certainly as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard — she always had to play it so starched.
Daphne: I’m ready to go, unless you want me to help look for David.
Danny: God, everyone is obsessed with looking for David. Do they really play hide and seek every night, on this enormous estate? They need to put a leash on that kid.
Danny: They cut a lot of Liz scenes; she hardly needs to be there at all. This is a great movie, if you don’t like backstories or human relationships.
David: Well, here’s a day for night shot with Sabrina — or Daphne, she’s Daphne here.
David: Man, that hair she wears in the show… So this is daytime. The sky is —
Danny: It’s blue.
David: This is daylight.
Danny: It actually looks like a nice day.
David: She’s walking in and out of shadows of trees. That’s not the moon.
Danny: Yeah, that’s not how the moon works.
Danny: Now, as the first person getting attacked by a vampire, she’s the redshirt for this movie, and she’s actually wearing red, which is convenient.
David: And that’s the color of blood in the movie, that cherry red.
Danny: I guess that’s why the first victim always wears red, it’s so the blood doesn’t ruin their outfit.
David: Now, one thing you’ll notice is that no cows die in the movie.
Danny: Oh, yes! She’s the cow, you’re right. Daphne is the honorary cow.
David: And this is straight out of the gothic novels, a young woman running away from a house.
Danny: Oh, watch this — when she gets in the car, she reaches for her seatbelt, which I love. It’s like, that’s not what safety belt means, Daphne. It’s not that kind of safety.
David: And here’s Roger Davis, the most hated actor on the show.
Danny: He’s actually left the show at this point, but Curtis gives him one last chance to ruin Dark Shadows.
Danny: And the first thing he does is just get his hands right on a female.
David: Oh, I know. He’s always pawing the actresses — especially Lisa Richards, actually. He’s all over her when he’s playing her brother.
Danny: Yeah, super creepy. And now he gets to do it on the big screen, in Metrocolor.
Danny: And now Maggie —
David: In that little shortie dress.
Danny: Her flashlight doesn’t work anymore… she’s just given up on even being in the movie.
David: It’s sad, in a way — Kathryn Leigh Scott, and Lara Parker, they really thought they were going to be big movie stars. They didn’t realize that fifty years later, this would be the pinnacle.
Danny: Hey, there’s David! We found him. Movie’s over, I think.
Liz: Where could Roger be? I’ve tried to reach him everywhere.
Danny: A house full of people, and nobody can find anyone. They need a better inventory control system.
Danny: And here’s more cast members, if you need any. They keep introducing characters, and not telling the audience who they are.
David: Oh, it’s Don Briscoe. Apparently a very brilliant, very funny, very interesting, bipolar guy. After he died, a really smart critic in Memphis named John Beifuss wrote the most wonderful obituary for him. He interviewed a lot of people about his life, and his last few years — and it was heartbreaking. Probably around 300 pounds. He mostly shunned Dark Shadows pilgrims, but he finally talked to a few, in the end. What a sad story.
Todd: Are Dr. Hoffman and Jeff still with Daphne?
Liz: Yes, I didn’t have a chance to tell Jeff about Maggie.
Danny: At this point, they’re just launching character names out into the darkness, daring the audience to keep up.
Danny: And back to Maggie, who’s still saying “David”.
Danny: We’re almost fifteen minutes into the movie, at some point somebody needs to figure out where somebody else is, and start having scenes together.
Danny: Now here, I don’t understand why Maggie gets upset. She’s been asking David to let her out of the room for five minutes. Now someone’s letting her out. I don’t see the issue.
Maggie: Jeff? Jeff!
Maggie: D-David! D-D-David!
Danny: We’re now communicating entirely through character names.
David: But look at this shot, from below, so you see the ceiling, just to prove this isn’t an ABC studio. Curtis is always shooting from an interesting angle — around the corner, through a door…
Danny: Or through the furniture, as here.
David: Right here, yeah.
Danny: He’s thinking outside the box. Like Barnabas.
Danny: Hooray, it’s Julia, the movie is saved.
David: This is great, to see Dennis Patrick and Grayson Hall, in a mirror that doesn’t show the camera or the boom mic.
Sheriff: Do you think she’ll be all right?
Julia: I don’t know. She’s lost an enormous amount of blood.
Danny: She says that like she’s disappointed, like it’s totally irresponsible of Daphne to lose all that blood. I bet it’s in the last place she looks for it.
Julia: I’ll move her to the hospital tomorrow.
Danny: Yeah, we’re not going to do it now. She’s asleep, she wouldn’t appreciate it.
David: I’m flashing back right now to how I felt seeing these actors on the big screen…
Danny: How happy you were.
David: The excitement of seeing these people for the first time on film.
David: They got a lot of bang for their buck out of that mansion, too. They rented that for a song, and they knew how to dress the sets to disguise the threadbare budget. Whatever you say about Curtis, he had an eye.
Danny: One thing that I like about the sets is that they’re super overstuffed. Like, you saw in that last scene, there’s not just one lamp in this room, there’s like six lamps, and twelve pictures on the wall — they commit completely. If there’s cobwebs, there’s cobwebs everywhere.
David: But not your favorite, the Ralston-Purina lamp. They left that back on 53rd St.
Danny: Yeah, well, it had a job to do. Somebody needs to stick around and make Dark Shadows, so the lamp had to stay.
David: And here we are in the Blue Whale.
Danny: There’s another big cut here, they skipped eight pages. There was a scene with Maggie, Jeff and Roger that established that Maggie feels helpless with David. And then Roger insults her, and she gives notice. Maggie’s job satisfaction was a huge arc in the first act.
Danny: Yeah, they cut it so they’d have more time to say David’s name.
Danny: And then there’s a sequence with a woman named Nancy Hodiak, who gets killed, and that’s what Todd and Carolyn are talking about.
Todd: Come on. Let’s get out of here.
Danny: But you just got here. And it’s the middle of the day.
David: No, it’s not.
Danny: Uh, yeah.
David: It can’t be.
Danny: Yeah. No. You’ll see, in a second.
Danny: It is daytime. it is entirely daytime.
David: Well, Barnabas is there.
Danny: That is so daytime.
David: I know! But Barnabas is there.
Danny: He’s sitting right in front of the window, too. But you know, this was a daytime soap opera, maybe they didn’t know the difference. Daytime is all they know.
David: It must have been so liberating for someone working in soaps, to actually have things happen — people get attacked, people die, it all happens in quick succession.
Danny: Yeah, he can actually set the pace. And now we can see the big black ring again. He’s doling out Barnabas in bite-size chunks.
David: Look, this is a good shot, of him walking towards this ridiculous looking mansion. Fantastic.
David: POV! Oh yeah, the Barnabas POV. Was this in the series?
Danny: No, not for Barnabas. But they did this again in the 1991 pilot. I think it’s one of the most gimmicky of Curtis’ gimmick shots, this really long Barnabas point of view scene.
David: And I love it.
Danny: Do you?
David: Because of the way he delays the sight of Frid. Let’s face it — we’re here now, we went to the movie, it’s all about seeing Jonathan Frid, and Curtis is delaying our first sight of him.
David: Now we’re in the great hall at Collinwood, which is the size of a closet, actually, on the set. You wrote at some point that it was really big? Everybody said it was like, you could barely fit two people in it.
Danny: Well, it’s big compared to everything else. It’s big compared to the woods, which is a little rectangle of burlap and bushes. Oh, look, like everyone in a horror movie, vampires are naturally drawn to pipe organs.
David: Louis Edmonds through the cane!
David: And then that rack focus shot.
Danny: One thing that’s unfortunate is — that’s pretty much all you see of Barnabas’ portrait. That’s very easy to miss. And then they just stand around talking about it.
Danny: And there’s Thayer David, arranged tastefully around the room. They’re throwing people at the screen now, just to make us happy.
David: Think about how much small talk they’ve cut through. We just lost days here, in terms of story time.
Liz: Dr. Hoffman has taken a sabbatical from her practice, and is writing a history of our family.
Danny: Is she? That seems super unlikely. I mean, it’s nice that they’ve catapulted us straight into summer ’67, but they never mention the family history again. They just have a live-in doctor and mad scientist.
Danny: There’s 13 characters introduced in the first 20 minutes of this movie, and you don’t know any of their relationships to each other. Professor Stokes might as well be the family pet.
Danny: And then Barnabas gives Naomi’s jewels to Elizabeth. Joan Bennett has no plot points, they cut most of her scenes, and at the end, they forget about her. But she’s the film star, so they paint a portrait of her and give her a big fancy necklace, as her reward for showing up.
David: Are you a fan of Suspiria?
Danny: I’ve never seen Suspiria.
David: What? Suspiria is like Dark Shadows on acid.
Danny: But Dark Shadows is Dark Shadows on acid.
David: Suspiria should be seen by everybody on the biggest possible screen, with the loudest possible sound system. It was Joan Bennett’s last big screen performance. She’s terrible in it, but I forgive her everything.
Danny: There’s a cut here, a scene with Barnabas walking around the Old House, and telling Liz and Roger he’d like to fix it up. But they cut that, so he just mentions wanting to live in the Old House, and then they cut to Carolyn, walking right in without knocking.
David: And he’s already moved in!
David: The Old House was supposed to be a ruin, at this point. Now it looks like it’s been lived in the whole time.
Danny: They give a lot of confusing signals about how old the Old House is in this movie.
David: Okay, Nancy Barrett —
Danny: Yeah. The great Nancy Barrett.
David: You know, when she played Carolyn, you never saw the acting. She was always convincing — it didn’t matter if she was getting on the back of Buzz’s motorcycle, or being Barnabas’ love slave. She was always, always convincing.
David: And then when she got to cut loose and play Millicent and Pansy Faye, or whatever those other characters were, she had the time of her life! She was real. It didn’t surprise me at all that she’d moved into performing in a cabaret. You just know this is somebody you’d want to go out to drinks with after rehearsal.
Carolyn: Barnabas? Anybody home? Barnabas?
Danny: God, “Barnabas” is the new “David”. So far, this movie is mostly people looking for people.
Danny: Are we invited to this scene?
David: This is very well-done.
Danny: Yeah, it’s cool, they’re kind of in silhouette. Then Willie shuts the door on us, and leaves us in the basement with Barnabas and the coffin, which is exactly where we want to be right now.
Danny: And here’s Barnabas getting out of the mystery box! He does a little flourish with his hand, to make sure everyone notices the ring. Then they cut away, because a character lying down in a box is actually super awkward.
Danny: You know, I’ve been complaining about how they cut all the character introductions and explaining who anybody is, but you don’t really want an extra ten minutes before Barnabas opens his coffin.
Danny: Look how many props there are in this room! They’re acting through a blizzard of set dressing.
David: And it’s low light. This is one of the ways you disguise a movie’s cheapness, because nothing is more merciless than too much light on a tatty set. Clint Eastwood knew that trick. Pauline Kael once said, Eastwood’s movies look like he forgot to pay his Con Edison bill. And then Curtis loads up on bric a brac in the foreground, which creates the kind of visual interest you don’t have on television, with two cameras moving around the set and everybody sort of huddled against the wall.
Danny: And now he’s shooting Willie through the ladder, which is a whole new technique in cinema. Although, you know, these felt like gimmick shots in the 1991 series, but they’re not really used as gimmicks here. He sincerely wants to make every shot interesting.
Danny: I’m enjoying this a lot more, watching it with you. I should always have a film critic nearby to explain movies to me.
Danny: And then it’s daytime. That’s just daytime.
David: Yeah, definitely.
Danny: They really have a problem with the windows.
David: They’re doing Christopher Lee, here. All of these shots — the entrance of Barnabas, the way he comes in, the way he’s photographed, the back and forth with the eyes, that’s taken right from Hammer.
David: And the fangs! Our first shot of the fangs, and they’re coming straight at us. This is great.
Danny: And then it’s time for a party! We’ve had our first onscreen vampire bite, and now we celebrate.
David: By the way, this woman who comes in here was in the TV show.
Danny: Another Easter egg, here — you really have to listen — but the music is a jazz version of “I Wanna Dance for You,” from 1897. And in unrelated news, Jeff is on the right there, apparently putting the moves on Liz somehow.
Danny: Nancy Barrett is determined to take over this scene.
David: She doesn’t move her features, and yet the emotion pours out of her.
Danny: So good.
David: She conveys feeling through lack of movement.
Barnabas: Who is that girl?
Julia: Oh, that’s Maggie Evans, she’s David’s governess. Haven’t you met her?
Carolyn: What a shame.
Julia: Yes, this is her last night at Collinwood, isn’t it?
Danny: Hooray, they finally mention who the heroine of the movie is, and what she’s doing here. But they cut the scene when Maggie quits, so the “last night at Collinwood” line doesn’t make sense. They trimmed that subplot all the way down to the bone.
Danny: Having a big party is very soap opera, with everyone crossing over from different storylines.
Danny: Oh, but she’s just heartbreakingly beautiful. She is putting everything she has into that smile.
David: Now, of course, in the diaries that she published in the Movie Book, she’s just yelping in despair at how little time they had to do these scenes. I wish those diaries were longer.
Danny: I know, she gets tired in the middle and stops writing in her diary.
David: You said it dropped off for about two weeks.
Danny: Yeah. She didn’t know she was going to publish it someday.
David: I’m surprised all these people didn’t have pneumonia at the end of the shoot, because it was freezing outside, they had to get up at four thirty am every day, and work long, long hours.
Danny: Yeah. And they’d be like, today is a cemetery day.
David: Yeah. You have to go and be doused with a firehose. She says at one point that Roger Davis wandered away with her umbrella, and she got completely soaked.
Danny: Everyone hates Roger Davis.
Barnabas: You mustn’t leave. You know, I was watching you and David earlier this evening. He’s so fond of you, and you are of him.
Danny: That’s supposed to be a big deal, like he’s seducing her into rethinking this huge choice that we haven’t heard about.
Barnabas: Go tell Elizabeth you’ll stay. She wants you. David does. I do.
David: You know, there are times when I look at Jonathan Frid, and I just think, he looks like — I can see him as a nerdy little boy, with pockmarked skin. There’s something really goofy looking about him. And then there are other times, when I think he looks incredibly dashing and romantic.
Danny: This is more goofy. But still, I think they’re selling the connection between them. There’s a close-up on his eyes, I don’t know if he’s supposed to be hypnotizing her or not. There’s a lot in this movie that I don’t understand about Maggie.
David: That costume that he’s wearing would have looked really amazing at the time of Their Satanic Majesties, you know, Sergeant Pepper —
Danny: Oh, right, yeah.
David: A lot of the rock stars were wearing stuff like this in 1969-70.
Danny: You’re right, that’s a super “mod” outfit.
David: So when the press wrote about him, you know, he was the mod vampire.
Barnabas: This was her room. It’s exactly as it was, the night we were to be married. And I’ll never allow anyone in here, Willie. I won’t even allow you.
Danny: In fact, you’re not even here now. I don’t know where you are.
Danny: So, you know horror movies better than I do — is this unusual, the vampire having a sad backstory? People talk about the “reluctant vampire” as being an innovation, and I have no idea if that’s true or not.
David: I don’t think there was a reluctant vampire onscreen before Barnabas. Christopher Lee always talked about “the loneliness of evil,” but the vampires in most of these movies were just demons. They were a pestilence. In Nosferatu, the vampire arrives in Germany in a ship loaded with rats, a metaphor for the plague. It’s possible he even represents the Eastern European Jew, given that Jews were supposed to be doing blood sacrifices with Christian babies — and you scare off vampires with crucifixes. The vampire wasn’t sad until Barnabas Collins.
Danny: That portrait of Josette is the worst thing in the movie. They don’t linger on it very much, and they kind of make a point of never showing it to Maggie. In her diary, she calls it ghastly and terribly unflattering, which it is.
Danny: But that’s interesting, the tragic backstory being a Dark Shadows innovation, because that must be the soap opera influence. Everybody has to have feelings on soap operas, because you need something to talk about, so they give Barnabas all these sad speeches. And I guess that had a big impact, not just on Dark Shadows, but on 20th century vampire fiction. That’s the natural selection of serialized narrative. It’s all these accidents and random ideas that you throw at the screen, and then the strongest ideas survive.
David: As you’ve pointed out on the blog, the violent men on soaps — rapists, even — were often so much more appealing to viewers that they were kept beyond their natural arc, and turned into romantic figures.
Carolyn: I won’t let you do it, Barnabas!
Barnabas: How dare you follow me to this house? I didn’t summon you! Don’t come in this room!
Carolyn: Love me, Barnabas! Not her!
Danny: And then it moves away from soap opera, all of a sudden. This wouldn’t happen on a soap, this really fast confrontation where suddenly everything falls apart, and everyone’s screaming at each other.
David: This is a scene right out of Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, where the earthy barmaid gets jealous because Dracula won’t stop talking about the virginal leading lady, and Dracula just kind of goes “I don’t need this shit,” and kills her.
Danny: Oh, my god. This is mayhem. All three of them, shrieking and biting and the music swells — everybody’s super amped up. I guess this is what you were saying about the audience reaction. Curtis knew that people would be screaming at the screen, so everything gets louder and more urgent. He really wants this to be the huge catharsis moment. Barnabas meets Maggie, he acts romantic and sad, and then a burst of violence, as a release.
David: Oh, I love this bit between them, stumbling towards Collinwood.
Danny: Yeah, this is one of the weirdest moments in the film. This is super Dark Shadowsy.
David: Willie is utterly destroyed by what happened. Just dabbing ineffectually at her neck with the handkerchief.
Danny: Yeah, maybe this will make it better somehow, if I can wipe off some of this blood. He’s grasping for some control over the situation.
David: And he’s breathing hard, he has that stammer — everybody on Dark Shadows developed a self-protective stammer, to help them cover up that they were reading off the teleprompter, but some of them really integrated it into their performances, Grayson Hall most prominently, but also John Karlen. M-m-m-maggie. B-b-b-barnabas.
David: Now, look — that’s daytime, okay? I don’t care how many lights they turn on in the house. That’s daytime.
Danny: We’re never going to get over that. It’s upsetting every time.
David: And then the big shot is coming up, Mrs. Johnson dropping the tray. She apparently damaged the historic tile on the floor.
Danny: Totally worth it.
Danny: And there you go. The perfect crime. Nothing to see here.
David: This is, just — I’ll never forget this shot of Nancy Barrett staring at nothing in this world. It was heartbreaking.
David: And then we cut to the first scene that they shot.
Danny: Yeah, Carolyn’s funeral, which happens in the shower.
David: It wasn’t actually raining that day. This is the Tarrytown fire department, standing just offscreen with hoses.
Danny: People are going to think that’s a joke, but that is an actual fact about this movie.
David: And then Reverend Trask, reading the Lord’s Prayer.
Danny: Yeah, another Easter egg for the fans.
David: And there’s Michael Stroka. Hi, Michael!
Danny: Everybody gets to come upstate for one day, to appear in the movie. This is Dan Curtis’ Dark Shadows home movies.
Trask: Carolyn Stoddard… loving daughter of Elizabeth Stoddard, niece of Roger Collins, devoted cousin of David Collins, beloved fiancee of Todd Blake.
Danny: Everyone in the audience is taking furious notes. They’re finally explaining all the family relationships.
David: Henesy was a good little actor, too. He was not one of these “hug-me” child actors. He was always very self-possessed.
David: You could tell that he didn’t want to be caught playing a child.
Danny: So this isn’t day for night, but it’s sunny day for rainy day.
David: Yes, it is. I love how they put in wind effects there, to make it sound even worse.
Trask: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life.
Danny: He’s still doing the funeral, as they carry the coffin away. He must be working for tips.
David: That’s a fantastic cut. Fantastic! From closing the mausoleum door, to inside the refrigerator, with the test tubes full of blood. Oh, my god.
Danny: Look how many samples she has. All different colors, too; she got the whole variety pack.
David: And now he’s posing her behind the shelves — it’s mannered as hell, but it’s cinematic. The man knew how to compose a shot.
David: I wouldn’t put him up as one of the great stylists, but for this sort of movie, you don’t expect that. As you said, he keeps finding ways to fill the screen.
David: And now you have Stokes coming in, to add something on the other side.
Danny: Now that we’re looking at the compositions so closely, I realize how much thought he put into every shot. He comes up with crazy decisions, but he’s thought about them, that’s the important thing.
David: I guess that’s also what I respond to, is his delight in making a movie.
David: I think one of the actors, at one point, said it was like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland — hey gang, let’s make a movie! You feel that, if nothing else. You feel it in Curtis’ technique.
Danny: Oh, now you’re making me appreciate all the gimmick shots. I have to stop using that word now. Fine, you win, you and Dan Curtis. I think I like this movie now.
David: But you know, it’s funny — he’s not good at framing closeups. It’s as if he can’t get too intimate.
Danny: So here’s a question: Who’s the main character of this movie?
David: Is it Barnabas?
Danny: The protagonist is supposed to be making all the big choices that drive the plot. I guess that’s Barnabas, but really all he’s done is bite people and give Joan Bennett a necklace. It’s definitely not Maggie, she hasn’t done anything. I would think Julia, but she’s not the one who figures out that Barnabas is a vampire. Maybe Stokes is the hero.
Julia: Assuming you’re right — this cell that I’ve discovered would indicate that this creature, whatever it is, might be cureable.
Danny: So it ends up being this weird ensemble piece, because they’re turning a rambling soap opera story into a movie, and soap operas don’t have a main character. And this idea of the lady doctor with no connection to the Collinses, who decides in the middle that she’s going to cure the vampire? You’d never come up with this, as a story structure.
Danny: It’s the kind of idea that you only come up with in serialized narrative, because you need to invent a reason to keep Julia interacting with Barnabas.
David: Well, that’s why this movie is kind of a Frankenstein. There’s very little organic about this movie. I think that’s why it’s easy to like, and hard to love. It’s all accidents taken from the TV show, and things borrowed from other movies.
Danny: But it’s so weird and stylish. I like David’s impossible overlapping reverb in this scene, where you can still hear echoes from ten seconds ago. It’s another area where Curtis is just messing around with all his new toys.
David: Look how rundown and deserted the estate is, all this empty, broken space.
Danny: And now he falls and knocks himself unconscious. You can’t leave the kid alone. We’re going to have to cordon off this entire movie.
Danny: I think Julia and Stokes are just hanging around Collinwood because they can’t find their way to the exit. If you try to leave the estate, you tumble down these gaping holes and get eaten by monsters.
Roger: Everyone else is in the gallery. Have you seen David?
Danny: Great, the movie just lapped itself. Now we’re all looking for David again. We have to do that once every thirty-five minutes.
David: I think this is about when I came in, actually.
Danny: Just in time for the second lap around the track.
Danny: So then the movie slows all the way down, for this Carolyn/David scene. David gets up, he shakes his head, he climbs out of the hole, he looks around… They’re letting us know that what’s coming up is a big deal. It’s big enough for them to invest three minutes in this sequence.
David: Well, this is the first big Hammer sequence. The way Carolyn is used is straight out of Dracula: Prince of Darkness.
Danny: In the flowing white gown?
David: In the flowing gown, reaching out to beckon her victim.
Danny: This location’s amazing, this ruined pool area. I wonder how many ruined bathhouses the location scout had to look at before they found exactly the perfect one.
Danny: And mist! Finally, they crank up the fog machine. I don’t think we’ve had any mist at all, until just now. They redo a lot of these scenes in the 1991 revival series, and there’s mist in every single scene, even when it’s inside with all the windows closed.
David: And here’s Barbara Shelley. In the Dracula movies, there’s always a second girl. It’s a cousin or a sister or a friend, who gets vampirized, and the main heroine escapes, of course. You know, she almost dies, but there always has to be one girl who dies first. Usually the more sexual one.
Danny: Just to show that they’re serious.
Danny: This is supposed to be dinner after the funeral, everyone’s in black. So I guess when they came home, Julia threw on a lab coat and messed around with samples for a while, and then took the coat off again for this depressing dinner.
David: Having the camera spin round the table, and ending up pointing down the hall so David can run into the room — it’s very stylish.
Danny: Everybody’s screaming at each other, and then Stokes says, “David, come here!” and suddenly everyone stops talking, because Stokes is magic.
David: Why are the Collinses friends with him, again? What is —
Danny: No explanation for that.
David: Is there a university in this town? Or is it in Bangor?
Danny: Uhh… unstated.
David: What does he teach?
Danny: Occult studies? I have no idea.
David: So Stokes announces that vampires exist, at the dinner table. That never happened in the show.
Danny: Nope. I don’t think anyone in the Collins family ever officially knows that vampires exist, even after they get bitten by one. But in the movie, Stokes does what you’d expect someone to do, which is look at the bite marks and say, oh, it’s a vampire. It’s weird to think of this movie as “more realistic”, but I guess you take the realism where you can get it.
Julia: Elizabeth, please! You must listen to what Eliot has to say.
Stokes: I believe Carolyn was destroyed by a vampire, and tonight she walks as one of the living dead.
Danny: Man, when Julia says you must listen to something, they really deliver. That’s the most compelling thing anyone’s ever said in the entire history of “you must listen to”.
Todd: Professor, I respect you, enough to believe almost anything you say. But the things I’ve heard tonight, I don’t see how you can expect any sane person to believe them.
David: This is an example of how Don Briscoe works. He speaks very deliberately, and he thinks through his lines. He’s a “head” actor. He doesn’t say anything that he can’t believe. If he can’t make sense of the line, he blanks out.
Danny: They give Todd a weird little audio flashback here, from the lines that Stokes said 45 seconds ago. But they give it this spooky musique concrète reverb which is super avant-garde. I think I really like this movie now.
Danny: So check this out. Todd walks into the same Collins mausoleum that Willie went into, right? Walks down the same stairs, walks through the same door, and then they pretend it’s a totally different room. It’s got a little bench, there’s no lion watching the dove, and the lighting is totally different. I’m not saying that’s interesting, I’m just killing time until the vampire attack.
David: She’s not wearing any clothes under that, by the way. Under that nightgown.
Danny: Wow, she really isn’t.
David: She has no underwear.
Danny: I never noticed that. Girl noticing isn’t really my area.
David: And she has to talk with fangs in her mouth, which is unusual.
David: And there it is! The vampire bite. You did not get that —
David: Oh, look! Terry Crawford. A very interesting looking actress, with zero affect whatsoever.
Danny: Yeah. She’s terrible. I’m not happy with her at all.
David: But that shot of Todd’s neck, with the blood — I remember the audience screaming. Because you really didn’t see much of that, even in the Hammer films, at that point.
David: Oh, this is fabulous.
Danny: Yeah, this is a good time.
David: Moving in on that coffin… There’s too much zoom lens in this movie, but in this case, when they just use a tracking shot? It’s really quite beautiful.
Barnabas: You are never to go near Todd again.
Danny: Man, it’s her first day and they’re doing performance reviews.
David: She is so beautiful in that shot. As a vampire, she’s so beautiful.
Barnabas: Where is Elizabeth? I’d like to see her.
Julia: I’m afraid that’s not possible now. I’ve just given her another sedative, and she’s sleeping again.
Danny: Hooray! A sedative.
Maggie: Julia, where is Todd?
Julia: About the same, he’s sleeping too.
Danny: Another sedative! Julia’s on a roll. You can cross off “sedatives” on your Dark Shadows bingo card.
David: Oh, and the mirror revelation.
Danny: Yeah, Julia figures out that Barnabas is a vampire from looking in her compact.
Danny: It’s fantastic, they could do this for like five minutes and I wouldn’t mind.
David: The way she squints!
Danny: Disney nerds always talk about this cartoon called “Playful Pluto”, where Pluto gets all tangled up flypaper, and he tries to figure out how to get unstuck. It’s a big advance in character animation, because it’s the first time you can see an animated character actually thinking. And Julia is doing that right now; this is her homage to Playful Pluto.
David: Now, I don’t think Grayson Hall is camp, I think she transcends camp.
Danny: What do you mean?
David: She has her own reality. Camp is a bit like kabuki; you’re always sort of holding a pose. I think there’s something very fluid about Grayson Hall, she’s inhabiting that space completely. She’s not standing outside it while she’s doing it.
David: The way that camp performers do. I don’t think anybody on DS is standing outside their roles, and winking at the audience. They’re going big, but they’re earnest.
Danny: Oh, Jeff’s wearing a tight shirt. We might be getting somewhere.
Danny: I’m sorry, that’s my “Carolyn’s not wearing underwear.”
David: But he’s Roger Davis!
Danny: I know, I know. I’m only human.
Danny: And then Carolyn just stands outside in the driveway, to make a police car crash into a tree.
David: That’s how you do a car crash, when you don’t have money to crash a car. You do it as a POV, from inside the car.
Danny: They’re probably going to need that car, later. That’s somebody’s ride home.
David: And look — Curtis has really thought through this stuff, visually.
David: I think he must have storyboarded this. It seems like he had to make a lot of decisions on the fly, but —
Danny: I wonder if it’s just, like, he shows up on the day, and he has another weird idea.
David: You think he walked around the set and figured out what prop he’d put the camera behind?
Danny: Maybe, yeah.
David: I don’t know.
Danny: It doesn’t seem likely, but I can’t imagine they sketched a picture of Willie, as seen through the rungs of a ladder.
David: That may be true. Curtis must have really walked the set. He was thinking a lot about point of view.
Danny: So this is a nice big chunk out of the middle of the movie where Barnabas has nothing to do with it. What is he doing all this time? Maggie isn’t doing anything, Julia isn’t doing anything. It’s really hard to say who’s supposed to be driving the story. Things just happen.
Danny: Oh, look at that! It’s the only skin in the movie. Don Briscoe was one of the two guys who ever took off his shirt on the show.
David: Now, this is scary. People were screaming in the theater.
Danny: And you’re expecting it? But when it happens —
David: I’m so glad that I saw this with that Strand audience. I can still hear them.
David: And, you know, there are a lot of ways in which this movie is nothing like the show. If you read interviews with people like David Henesy, they say that it was nowhere near as much fun, you just had to hit your marks; you had no sense of live performance. But to be able to see Dark Shadows like this…
David: So, okay, it’s not a replacement for the original. Nothing that we’re seeing here rivals the joy of seeing the show, day by day. But as an adjunct to the show, it’s fascinating. Like, what if our favorite characters from Collinwood could be — in a movie!?
Danny: Yeah, it’s like a cover version. No, it’s not the same thing as the original, but it’s a different spin, and it’s fun to see what this version can do.
David: Now, the question of whether or not it destroyed the show —
Danny: Oh, it did.
David: I’m convinced by what you wrote.
Danny: But it’s not like the content of the movie killed the show. It’s just straight-up, the experience of making it, while they’re also still making a daily TV show, just stretched them beyond their limits, and it all falls apart after this.
David: Look at the lights on top of the police car! The red of those lights, and the red of her lips, and the blood… There’s no red in this scene, except her lips —
David: — and we’re about to see a lot of red.
David: The way she’s staked recalls Dracula: Prince of Darkness, where Barbara Shelley plays this buttoned-up woman, who becomes very sexual when she’s turned into a vampire. And she’s caught by monks, with these giant crosses —
Danny: Oh, really?
David: They hold her down, and her bazooms are heaving, and they take this enormous stake — and when the monks pound in the stake, you can hear church bells pealing. So the symbolism of holding her down, this sexualized woman — it’s very important in those Dracula movies. Curtis uses exactly the same kind of shot here. It doesn’t have the same implications, but Curtis learned a lot from Hammer.
David: What makes this so intense is that in the sixties, you were seeing protests, police surrounding a young girl, who’s maybe having a drug trip, and flipping out —
David: This is like the pigs surrounding a girl with long hair and a flowing dress, who’s probably a hippie, who’s doing free love.
David: And they’re holding her down, and oh my god —
Danny: And then they pull out the stake and hammer. Yeah.
David: Oh, and I can hear the people shrieking —
Danny: Which was actually not a response that you ever have to the show, at all. The show isn’t made for moments like this, where you could be in a crowd of people, all getting excited, and buiding off each other’s excitement.
David: Whew. I’m spent.
Danny: The thing that I like about this sequence is that they give you every shot that you want. You’re thinking, oh, I wish I could see it from that angle — and it’s like they’ve anticipated that desire, and here’s that shot.
David: The only thing they don’t do is give you a last shot of her beatific face to show you that the evil has left her. The demon is gone, and the face becomes soft — they don’t show Carolyn at peace. They probably ran out of time. Or Curtis was too cynical.
Danny: Oh, this is one of my favorite things, Julia showing up right before dusk.
Willie: Hello, Dr. Hoffman. You can’t come in right now.
Julia: Would you tell Mr. Collins I’d like to see him?
Willie: Well, he ain’t here now, he’s away in Portland on business.
Julia: Oh, when will he be back?
Willie: I don’t know, he didn’t say —
Julia: Oh! Oh, what marvelous things you and Barnabas have done here! It really is extraordinary —
Willie: Now, look, Dr. Hoffman, I told you, now, Barnabas, he ain’t here!
Julia: The workmanship…
Danny: All that stuff about the work they’ve done, and the workmanship? Not in the script. That’s either an adlib, or they figured it out on the day. This is the thing that I love most about Julia — she’s the mythopoetic trickster, who smiles and lies and violates all the rules, in order to make the story more interesting.
Barnabas: Put that away!
Julia: I can change you. I can make you a normal human being.
Danny: She’s an alchemist — she changes Barnabas from one thing to another, and at the same time, she changes what kind of story this is, just using the power of her face and her voice and her own personal crazy. She will tell any lie, and break any rule, and the only thing that she wants in the world is to make this story more interesting than it was a minute ago.
Julia: That’s right, Barnabas — I can eliminate it! You’ll be able to live a perfectly normal life.
David: If you went to Christopher Lee’s Dracula, and you said, I have something that could make you not a vampire, he would throw you out the window.
Danny: Would he?
David: He’s a vampire, that’s his identity. It was the werewolf, who didn’t want to be a werewolf. The vampire just wanted to drink blood and enslave people.
Danny: And look at that. He’s got the Bela Lugosi light over his eyes, but for Lugosi, it meant he was hypnotizing a victim. For Barnabas, they’ve turned it into this beautiful yearning for the sun.
Barnabas: I haven’t seen the light of day in almost two hundred years. When do you want to begin, doctor?
Danny: All right, I’m going to need your insurance, fill out some forms, sign a couple waivers —
Danny: Oh, I guess we’re just doing it. C’mere, let’s see what happens when I stick this in your arm.
David: It’s amazing how quick it goes, from his first injection to walking in the sunlight.
Danny: Yeah, they need a training montage.
David: Right, that first moment, when he puts his little finger out in the sun, and it goes sizzle, and then it stops sizzling. Something like that.
Danny: Well, there was another scene in the middle here, a moonlight walk with Barnabas and Julia, where they talk about how he’s making progress, and he says, “Don’t you realize how happy you’ve made me?” and she says, “Have I?” which is cute for the shippers, but they cut it because that’s exactly the same thing that they’re doing in this next scene anyway.
David: But it should have something in the middle, to make us like him more. Because actually he’s not likeable in the movie at all.
Danny: Right, cause he doesn’t have friends. That’s one of the steps for how you get the audience to care about a character — make a joke, make a friend, make a plot point happen. But this movie doesn’t have a sense of humor, and they have no time for friends, so he just kills everyone he comes into contact with.
Julia: Oh, where did you find that?
Barnabas: It belonged to somebody I knew many years ago.
Danny: I didn’t ask who it belonged to, I asked where you found it.
David: And her crush on him — you know, Grayson Hall created that herself. That idea that she was in love with him was not in any of the scripts that she got, she just played it that way.
Danny: Well, it’s the most logical thing to do, on a soap opera.
David: And the audience noticed it, and then the writers noticed it.
Danny: So, now, what is going on with Jeff? Like, what is Maggie — she never mentions him, and she’s having this obviously romantic fireside date with Barnabas.
David: Huge gap in the script. She’s obviously attracted to Barnabas, maybe she’s hypnotized by him, but doesn’t she have any loyalty towards Jeff? It’s a love triangle, in which the woman isn’t acknowledging that she’s in a love triangle.
Danny: You know what would’ve helped, is for Maggie to have a dream sequence that shows him exerting influence over her. Some kind of hypnodream. It’s actually weird that the Dark Shadows movie doesn’t have any dream sequences or seances. It’s a good thing they have sedatives, otherwise this wouldn’t even count as Dark Shadows.
David: If Frid showed more animal lust, this would be a different movie. In 1979, there was a Dracula remake with Frank Langella, where the liberated heroine was bummed out when Dracula got staked. She knew that with her straitlaced fiance her sex life was about to get a lot duller. House of Dark Shadows is in this funny neutral zone, where the sex metaphor breaks down.
Danny: Right, it’s too late in the sexual revolution to say that she’s unclean forever, but too early for her to be really into it. So they just eat dinner and talk about oil paintings.
David: Is the music box supposed to be the hypnosis?
Danny: But she’s not playing it like she’s hypnotized at all. It just feels like there are two different characters named Maggie.
Danny: Which maybe there is. Maybe that’s the secret of this movie that nobody’s ever figured out.
Danny: Oh, and there’s another weird cut in the script coming up, when Willie is arguing with Barnabas about what he’s going to do to Maggie.
Barnabas: She won’t be seeing Jeff for several days. I’ve seen to that.
Willie: What are you talkin’ about, you ain’t done nothin’ to Jeff, have you?
Barnabas: On the contrary, Willie — I’ve done something for him!
Danny: That line is supposed to set up a picnic scene here, where Maggie and Jeff talk about this great opportunity he has in Boston. He’s an artist, and Barnabas has arranged for him to show his work at a gallery. But they cut that scene, so you have no idea what Barnabas is taling about. “I’ve done something for him!” Total mystery.
David: He’s an artist?
Danny: Yeah, that’s why he’s so upset about the vampire bites. All that wasted red paint.
Danny: See? David’s carrying a picnic basket.
David: I love this scene. This is the scene that they filmed in like twenty degrees, and she’s wearing that little dress — and there’s an arctic wind that’s trying to blow it off.
Danny: So Willie’s trying to explain to her that she might be in danger, and everybody knows that vampires are real now. And Maggie just stands there, and categorically refuses to participate in this movie in any way.
David: She really is very dumb.
Danny: She does not have full situational awareness.
David: I’m not sure Kathryn Leigh Scott ever felt the need to fill Maggie in, or bring more intelligence to the part. It wasn’t like Alexandra Moltke, who was an intellectual. She dated John Simon, the critic, and Klaus von Bulow, obviously, which brought her the kind of fame she didn’t want. She went on to direct documentaries. She always seemed faintly embarrassed by what she was doing, which made her nowhere near as likeable as simple little Kathryn Leigh Scott in her mini-dresses.
David: But I don’t think Kathryn ever had ideas about Maggie that weren’t in the script.
Danny: Which may be why there’s no hesitation, there’s no “I shouldn’t be dating somebody else, this is forbidden”. She’s just on a date. This is her, being out on a date.
David: No subtext whatsoever.
Danny: This is a problem that they fixed in the 1991 series. The first few episodes are mostly a reshoot of House of Dark Shadows, with Vicki as the governess. But they don’t have this weird non-love triangle, because 1991 Vicki is single. I mean, they created twelve brand new story problems, but this is the one that they fixed.
David: Oh, and this scene, where he beats the hell out of Willie? So traumatizing.
Danny: Because you liked Willie.
David: Yeah, and I’d never seen Barnabas act like this on television.
Danny: Oh, right. He did beat Willie on the show, but that was before you started watching. You started in 1969, when everybody was friends. The Loomis abuse was early ’67.
David: It’s well done, though. This is emotionally violent, and the cuts between Willie and Barnabas — that’s so good.
David: Why he calls Julia, I do not know. Curtis just wanted a punchline for the scene. He could have yelled, “Mommyyyyy!”
Stokes: Willie, what’s the meaning of this? You knew I’d be here this morning.
David: So they must have cut the scene where Willie talked to Professor Stokes.
Danny: Yeah. There’s a lot of these little narrative holes that you’re just supposed to fill in on your end.
David: But at least Curtis made his own editing choices, it wasn’t like Night of Dark Shadows, where Jim Aubrey gave him 24 hours to cut half an hour out of a very convoluted storyline.
Danny: Oh, there’s a very important cameo coming up. You have to look closely, up at the top left —
Danny: There. A boom mic shadow.
Danny: Yeah, it’s the most exciting cameo in the movie.
David: I loved the line, early in your blog, when you said that Dark Shadows is the story of a boom mic shadow, and the unhappy people who live underneath it.
Danny: Yeah, we’re watching this team of under-resourced lunatics desperately struggling every day to make the most surprising possible show.
David: And you’re absolutely right, to think about it in terms of theater, rather than television.
David: It’s live theater. Every day, you go to this place to see a show, which they have assembled very quickly. There’s a skeleton crew, and a bunch of very game actors, and when it’s over, they move on.
Danny: I love the number of pictures and knickknacks in this room. I have no idea what this room is. Julia’s sitting behind a desk like she’s Collinwood’s faculty advisor, holding office hours. So they just scatter set dressing at random.
Stokes: Julia! Let’s not play insane games!
Danny: Yes! That should be the name of the movie, Dark Shadows: Let’s Not Play Insane Games.
David: See, I think Grayson Hall and Thayer David must have loved each other. There’s so much juice; they’re veteran theater actors — I think they loved playing off each other.
David: That look! I’ve seen that look in my mother’s eyes so many times, when you catch her in a lie.
Danny: Making this movie is such a happy experience for Grayson Hall, because she doesn’t have to find her light all the time, and make sure that her face is turned the right way. They have someone doing that for her. She’s so happy that I don’t think they even have to pay her money.
Danny: Now, this is one of the craziest shots in the movie.
David: It’s one long shot, they just walked for a long time —
Danny: While the camera hides behind a tree.
Maggie: You seem so preoccupied.
Barnabas: Do I? I was just thinking, what a lovely, beautiful day it is.
Danny: So there, finally, is the explanation for why Barnabas is always looking offscreen. He’s not trying to read his lines off the teleprompter. He’s just thinking about what a lovely day it is.
Danny: So this is just actors vs scenery, at this point.
David: She said in the diary that they didn’t have time to do this more than once, and when they took each other’s hand, they were behind a tree branch —
Danny: Yeah, weird. I wonder how that happened.
David: So what is the plan? I mean, is she going to marry —
Danny: It’s hard to tell, yeah.
David: Or would she say, what are you talking about? You’re too old for me, I’m with Jeff.
Danny: There’s no way to know. They keep cutting all the scenes where Maggie has feelings.
Barnabas: Look at those trees!
Danny: Where? Oh, right.
Maggie: Barnabas, I love to be with you. You have a way of looking at things.
Danny: Trees, for example.
David: You know, she does have nice chemistry with him. It’s not erotic, or even especially romantic. I think Frid was too ill-at-ease in his body to have much sexual chemistry with the women on Dark Shadows. But at least Kathryn Leigh Scott isn’t suppressing a gag reflex, like she is with Roger Davis. She looks sort of relieved.
David: Oh, and Julia out on the parapets —
Danny: That’s so great. I think that’s one of the most effective shots that they do, they walk by and then it zooms up to Julia.
David: I’m not a fan of the zoom lens. It’s very early 70s, and it always feels artificial. It makes it so easy to move through space that it’s tacky. But I can understand why they used it, it saved a lot of time and money. If it was a Baz Luhrmann film, the camera would literally rush toward her — somebody would get onto a crane, and hurtle up! into her face.
David: I hate Baz Luhrmann.
Danny: Look at all these globes, by the way. It’s like, screw having one globe. One globe is for chumps.
David: You get a choice of worlds.
Danny: Oh, wait — those are the different dimensions that we visit! One of them is the Earth from the TV show, and then the Parallel Time Earth, and the House of Dark Shadows Earth.
Danny: I’m sure that’s what Dan Curtis intended.
Danny: I am absolutely certain about that.
Julia: It’s almost night. I’ll prepare your — next injection.
David: Oh, that little hesitation between your and next.
Danny: That’s lovely. It’s not a subtle performance. We left method acting behind, like, way back there. Now we’re just blatantly indicating.
David: Oh, an audio montage.
Danny: Yeah, they don’t do the thinks monologues in the movie, where you stand there and the voiceover remembers your lines for you. This is the closest they come.
Stokes’ voice: There is only one woman he’s interested in: Maggie Evans… Maggie Evans… Maggie Evans…
Danny: Selections from the Audible recording of He’s Just Not That Into Biting You.
Danny: Oh, and look at that shot.
David: She makes it work. You can’t take your eyes off her.
Danny: And then it’s off to Mexico! She’s gotta get out of town. It’s like Thelma and Louise, just — run! Don’t even pack your stuff, just get in the car!
David: Get away from the vampire.
Danny: Yeah, you need to put some space between you and your crime spree.
Danny: Now that… that is extraordinary. I can’t believe I used to not like this movie. I must have been watching it wrong.
David: “You’ve betrayed me!” That’s a real Christopher Lee line.
Danny: And then this is how it feels, this is the aging process. Once you hit a certain age, every day when you wake up, you do exactly this, you just stare at the back of your hands and scream.
David: This is Dick Smith, doing the old man makeup. He did that same makeup for Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man, and that came out two months after House of Dark Shadows.
Danny: And nobody noticed, because there is zero overlap between those audiences.
David: Okay, well? Grayson gets her death scene.
Danny: Yeah, well, I’ve always said that the show couldn’t survive for a single episode without Grayson Hall, and now they’ve just killed Julia.
David: And the next half-hour consists of everyone dying.
Danny: Yup, turns out I was right. Nobody listens.
David: Now he’s got Maggie, too.
Danny: This is shaping up to be a big night for Collinwood.
David: And there’s Liz! We’d forgotten about her.
Danny: Man, she just got back to the movie, and look what she has to deal with. She needs to go run off and marry Jason McGuire or something.
David: I thought he was the sheriff.
Danny: Oh, even better; she’ll have police protection.
David: Bad cut, here. Bad music cut. And there he is, Humbert Allen Astredo.
Danny: That character’s name — I don’t think they say it out loud, but he’s Dr. Forbes.
David: Oh, really?
Danny: Which makes me wonder if they were hoping to get Joel Crothers to make a cameo, and he told them to go to hell.
Danny: And now Roger Davis is back, after half an hour of not being in the film, and what does he do? First thing, he gropes a woman. Uggh, he puts his nose in her eye. What is he doing?
David: She complained about that shot in her diary.
Danny: So horrible.
David: She said he didn’t touch her in rehearsal, but when the cameras rolled, he basically rested his elbow on her face.
Danny: He doesn’t appear on the show anymore after this, I forget what he did next.
David: He did Alias Smith and Jones, right?
Danny: Oh, that was his next thing?
Danny: Which actually was popular, and made him feel famous for a minute.
David: Yeah, it did. And he did a lot of voiceovers in the 70s, because he sounds like Henry Fonda. Joan Bennett said he was like Fonda with no talent. There’s also a story in Barnabas and Company about him trying to get between Grayson Hall and the camera, and she stepped so hard on his foot that tears sprang into his eyes. And when they called “Cut,” she hissed, “You’ll never try that again, will you?”
Danny: So where are we, at this point? What house is this?
David: I think it’s the Old House.
Danny: Well, is this the renovated Old House or the falling-apart Old House?
Danny: Oh, look at Liz hanging on the wall, still trying to be in the movie. That portrait is just clearing her throat, like, ahem, I’m back here, you guys.
David: What I don’t understand — Can you imagine the idea of Dark Shadows as being built around Joan Bennett?
Danny: Not really.
David: She did some good work in the series, but as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, there was just nothing there.
Danny: Well, there was at the beginning. And then they sort of cleared up all of her personality problems.
David: You mean, with her husband that she’d murdered?
Danny: Yeah, by the end of the first year, they’d solved all the Collins family problems, and then Barnabas came along, and they forgot to give the family anything else to do.
Roger: We’ve just spent the past two hours reading the 18th century history of the family. In 1797, Josette DuPres was to become the bride of Barnabas Collins.
Danny: He’s doing a Powerpoint presentation. He only has one slide.
Stokes: Maggie Evans bears an astonishing resemblance to Josette. I’m convinced that tomorrow evening — the anniversary of Josette’s death — Barnabas Collins intends to take a bride.
Danny: Well, thank goodness Maggie’s unconscious, then. It would be a shame if she was actually awake for the climax of the movie.
David: I know.
Danny: I don’t think she has a single line of dialogue in the entire third act.
David: And that’s George DiCenzo, he was the associate producer.
Danny: Oh, is it? I didn’t realize.
David: Yeah, the casting director forgot to cast somebody to play the part. And after this, he became an actor.
Danny: From his expression, it looks like he’s thinking, Man, this girl’s pretty, but she’s so religious.
Danny: Oh, look at this, Barnabas coming in through the secret panel. That’s a super theatrical way to be sneaky. That’s a version of sneaky that can’t happen anywhere but Scooby-Doo and this movie.
Danny: I don’t know what they thought all these crosses would be for. They clearly have no effect on Barnabas whatsoever.
David: The kettle drums are getting excited. With this movie, they had this rich reservoir of Robert Cobert music cues. Movies with this budget, normally they’d have one guy with an organ, like Manos: The Hands of Fate.
Danny: Well, they’ve amortized the cost of the music over, like, a TV show, and the Jekyll and Hyde movie, and a primetime pilot, so they’ve gradually built up this library of music cues. That’s why Curtis kept using Cobert; every production, they’d record fifteen more music cues.
David: And clearly, they didn’t need a very expensive casting director, because they had their cast. They put all the money into Dick Smith and red paint.
David: The reflection of the light on his bald head is the worst shot of the movie.
Danny: You think?
David: It goes on too long. People were laughing at that, in the theater.
Danny: I love the crunchy slurpy sounds, though. Worst shot, best use of sound.
David: That’s a fantastic pose that he strikes. And even though it’s not the smoothest transition, it works.
Danny: Yeah. And the blood on his face.
David: It takes two servings to get his looks back.
Danny: And once again, Jeff is late to the movie. He keeps missing his call times.
Danny: But this is exciting, a car chase! They actually have a car chase in this movie.
Danny: And then: aah, wait, stop! And they murder all those people.
David: Well, Curtis is learning the vocabulary of making a movie, and it’s fun to see him do it. He wants to do as few shots as possible, and he wants to make them as interesting as possible.
David: So he’s figuring out shortcuts. He’s figuring out new ways of getting into a scene, and new ways of getting out of a scene.
Danny: And now the Sheriff is just handing out silver bullets like they’re candy. They must think silver grows on trees.
Sheriff: Silver bullets. They’ll kill him, but you have to shoot him directly in the heart.
Danny: That’s werewolves. Isn’t that werewolves?
David: They’re just making shit up.
Sheriff: You better get some rest. You’re gonna need it when it’s dark again. We’re all meeting at my office, at dusk.
Danny: Okay, good plan. What could possibly go wrong?
Danny: Oh, except Jeff falls asleep on the couch. Well done.
David: So this guy with the note is King Johnny Romano, King of the Gypsies! Another deep cut cameo. I wish he’d been used more, in the show.
Danny: Yeah, he’s fantastic.
Jeff: What time did they give you this?
KJR: About five o’clock.
Jeff: What time is it now?
KJR: Almost six.
Danny: So that’s just… He’s going out to rescue the woman he loves from a vampire, and he oversleeps? Oh, it’s six o’clock. What have you been doing? You have a handful of silver bullets —
David: And now the whole world is vampires! He slept through it, the world is vampires now.
Danny: Right, the apocalypse has already happened. Oops, the hero overslept. What is the matter with you?
David: I know!
Danny: This is why we can’t have nice things.
Danny: So now we row out to an island — I’m not sure why we’re on an island — and here’s where we just start killing dudes.
David: Yes! We’re at the end of the movie already.
Danny: And it’s super dark, because screw you, audience, we’ve decided to finish up the movie without you.
David: They finally figured out day for night, and they overcompensated.
Danny: Well, somewhere in there, it’s supposed to be Stokes.
David: You wouldn’t think Stokes would turn evil, just because he became a vampire. This is more like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Now he’s an ally of Barnabas?
Danny: I think he’s freelancing. Anything for neck blood.
David: Curtis at this point just wants to kill everybody. He’s really enjoying the idea that every single one of his characters is going to die.
Danny: Yeah, after working with these people for four years, he’s taken the entire cast upstate, where it’s nice and quiet, so he can ritually slaughter them, one by one.
Danny: The great thing about this scene is vampire Stokes’ evil chuckle, as he tries to throttle his friend. Stokes is so happy right now, he can’t wait to get started.
David: Ah, Thayer David. How I wish he’d lived longer. He was a rich kid, went to Harvard. John Simon told Alexandra Moltke that he was the handsomest man on campus. And then he found food and alcohol, and destroyed his appearance and had a very difficult time. Then he sobered up, but kept eating. Many people seem to think he’s gay because he clearly made Stokes gay, but he fell in love with a much younger woman, a British actress.
David: He was working all the time when he died. He was going to be Nero Wolfe on TV.
Danny: And look at him now, gunshot with a face full of food coloring. Now Jeff has to go wash up in the lake, clean all the Stokes off his hands.
Danny: So where is this, now? What house is this?
David: It’s some house in Norwalk, CT.
Danny: But they just have spare — like, on this island, they just have spare mansions.
David: Oh, you mean where is it in Collinsport?
Danny: Yeah, just, what am I looking at right now? It’s not the Old House. This neighborhood is full of deserted mansions. The movie must take place in 2007, too many subprime mortgages in this town.
David: You’re really concerned.
Danny: I am. I’m worried about the real estate market.
Danny: So this is my favorite set, where they take the concept of props, and literally weaponize it.
David: Roger’s been bitten and left for dead in a chair…
Danny: And Jeff’s rummaging around, and what do you know? This is the armory. There’s a pike, and a suit of armor, and a cannon… I love the cannon. If he tried to light that cannon and shoot Roger with it, it would be the best scene in the film.
David: There’s something rather haunting about Roger’s death, here. He wakes up and it’s like, “Hey, I’m a vampire!” and then, wham! He doesn’t even get to enjoy it.
Danny: It’s not fair.
David: It’s like Sam Hall thought, okay, we’ve just had this bloody fight with Professor Stokes —
Danny: And this one needs to be the opposite of that. So here comes Jeff with the harpoon collection.
David: I mean, that’s actually really upsetting.
Danny: Well, I guess they’ve figured out they’re not going to do any more episodes. What do they have to lose? This is how Ryan’s Hope ended, too, just butchery.
Danny: God, every mansion in New England is just stocked with murder weapons. It’s no wonder there are all these deserted mansions, the inhabitants must have exterminated each other.
David: And now, really, you’re going to have Dan Curtis go the full Grand Guignol here.
Danny: Yeah, it’s gonna get messy.
David: We’re going to buy out the Sherwin-Williams on the corner.
Danny: Now, Willie has an amazing line coming up. It’s in the script in the Movie Book, but it’s written in the margin.
Willie: Maggie, I wish I could help ya. But I can’t, I can’t do anything. (pause) Can I get you a glass of water? I’ll get you a glass of water.
Danny: Isn’t that amazing? I bet he came up with that. That sounds like a John Karlen special to me.
Danny: And then Jeff comes in, cause he thinks he’s the hero of the movie.
Jeff: Maggie? Maggie, look at me.
Willie: You’re wasting your time, Jeff. There’s nobody for her but Barnabas.
Danny: God, look at how Maggie’s head just tips sideways, like she’s got a doctor’s note and doesn’t have to show up to the movie today. I think they’ve given up on the idea that this is a regular type movie, with characters and locations and sequential events. This is its own weird collage.
David: Oh, but look how he stages this in the mirror, so we see —
Danny: Boom! And he’s down.
David: That’s a really good shot, the way he figured that out.
Danny: So can we play another quick round of “who’s the main character”? Because this is ridiculous, at this point.
David: Well, the heroine’s out to lunch.
Danny: Yeah. Jeff’s supposed to be the hero, but we’ve hardly seen him.
David: He’s a cipher, really, until the end. He’s barely been involved in the movie. I mean, the main character has to be Barnabas, but sometimes he’s absent too.
Danny: Julia’s the main character for a while — it’s like everyone gets a chance?
David: We don’t particularly want to see Maggie and Jeff get together.
Danny: Yeah. We don’t care.
David: But we do think Barnabas maybe shouldn’t have killed Julia, or Carolyn. So we want to see him get it. That’s what’s holding us in our seats, we want him to get it so it hurts.
Danny: But this! This is what we need.
David: This is beautiful.
Danny: It’s spectacle. That’s the answer to every question, every little nitpick. Show us something like this. All is forgiven.
Danny: Crazy. I love it. That is mist for mist’s sake.
David: Absolutely, and no one would begrudge it. Or, no one you would like.
Danny: Right, exactly.
David: Anyone who says, where’s that smoke coming from?
Danny: You’re missing the point of the movie.
David: You don’t want them in your house, you don’t want to watch movies with them.
Danny: It looks fantastic, just this storm front moving in.
David: Unfortunately, I think the final conflict is misdirected. It’s very hard even to see what’s going on. Curtis didn’t get enough coverage. He knew how to frame a shot, but he didn’t give the editor enough choices.
David: You see? No coverage. We didn’t see Jeff get up —
Danny: Yeah, you’re right.
David: We didn’t see him say, what’s going on? There’s no —
Danny: Was this the last day?
David: These were the last things they shot, yes.
Danny: So they really are just using up all the blood they had left over.
David: Yeah! Apparently Karlen was lying on the floor for a whole day, and drank about half a bottle of vodka.
Danny: So I’m going to pitch you a different ending — Liz shows up right now, with the cannon.
Danny: Saves the day! That would be —
David: Just blow up the whole place.
Danny: Yeah. That would be the greatest movie of all time. That’s my personal version of the movie, that’s how it ends.
David: But Curtis has not set up this situation properly.
Danny: P-twang! Strike one.
David: We didn’t even see Willie make the decision to stop the wedding. It’s his biggest moment in the movie, and there’s no close-up of him saying, “Screw this! I’m going to take Hill 19 even if the Japs riddle me with bullets!”
David: You see? Curtis’ vocabulary breaks down, his film syntax breaks down…
Danny: I like that you’re bringing the film criticism.
David: Plus, that is Sherwin-Williams, right? That’s not blood.
David: But that’s a great shot, pointing a stake into the camera.
Danny: One thing that’s weird is, he’s saying Clark, Clark, Clark? I don’t think they’ve ever said that his name is Jeff Clark. They called him Jeff the whole time. So now half the audience is saying, what? Isn’t that the same guy?
Barnabas: I command you to come to me! You cannot resist me. CLARRKK!
David: Also, when did they establish that he has mind control with his voice?
David: This came from nowhere, the fact that he could hypnotize Jeff wthout biting him. This is not really in a vampire’s arsenal. This is Jedi mind control.
Danny: One thing that I like about this, though, as somebody who likes dudes, is Roger Davis with stubble, which he has here? This is the most attractive version of Roger Davis.
David: You’re the one person who’s into Roger Davis.
Danny: I am, a little bit. With stubble, I am. When he’s not talking. It’s just when he starts to talk or move or do anything that it becomes a problem.
David: This sequence is a mess, look at this. There’s the three of them…
David: And there’s Maggie…
David: And there’s Barnabas…
David: And Jeff.
David: And then what happens there?
Danny: I don’t know.
David: There’s just a sound. And then Willie’s put a bolt in the vampire’s back.
Danny: Ouch, yeah.
David: But you don’t really see what happened. You have to figure it out after the fact, reconstruct it in your head.
David: But here, that crunch, that’s one of the things that made the picture. People shrieked at that crunch, when Jeff shoves the stake down —
Danny: And then this —
David: That’s the cum shot. That saved the climax, right there.
David: And now he’s carrying her, but they seem like strangers, Maggie and Jeff. So everybody’s dead, and it’s kind of like — okay, what have we just seen? Why did we — and then there’s the credits.
Danny: So what have we learned?
David: Do you like the movie more now?
Danny: I do, yeah.
David: Because I got the impression going into this that you didn’t like the movie at all.
Danny: I thought I didn’t. When I talked to you a few weeks ago, I hadn’t watched it again, and my memory was that I didn’t like it. I think I probably saw it at a moment in my life when I didn’t have Dark Shadows — after New Jersey Network, and before the Sci-Fi Channel, those five or six years, when as far as I knew, I was never going to see Dark Shadows again, it was just gone from my life.
Danny: I saw the movie on late-night TV, and Julia was killed, and Stokes and Carolyn and everyone, and it made me really angry. And then I never watched it again until last week, to prepare for this. And now, obviously, Dark Shadows was saved, I have the box set, so now I can actually enjoy the movie as its own weird little work of art.
David: I have to acknowledge, when I went to see this at the time, seeing your favorite characters die in these horrible ways, there’s something very cold and cruel about Curtis just deciding to do that, to take people who we care about — including Barnabas — who we’ve seen grow emotionally, and regress them to this earlier stage, and then kill them, in the most gory ways imaginable! That’s something — you know, only a son of a bitch would do that, without really thinking about the feelings of the people who watched these actors and these characters every day.
Danny: Well, I think this is where this particular line of thinking takes you. Curtis’ idea was, what if we make this a horror movie instead of a soap opera? Can we build another world around this? And the answer is basically no.
David: And then you go back to Manhattan…
Danny: And you pick up the pieces of your shattered life, and you move on.
Monday: The Cast Came Back.
House of Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
When he’s in the crypt, Willie says, “The lion head watches the dove!” The poem actually says “lion’s head” — he said it right the first time, when he read it to Maggie.
When David is hiding behind the clock, Liz’s lines — “he should be here” and “one of them should have been back by now” — are obviously not in sync with her lips.
As Barnabas approaches the locked door, Maggie’s line “Answer me, David, I know you’re there” is slightly out of sync.
A minor continuity error when we’re watching Carolyn walk around in the Old House — when she looks through a doorway, she’s already turning away when they cut to a different shot, and she starts turning again.
When Willie races to the stairs to keep Carolyn from walking down into the basement, he brushes up against a big strand of cobwebs, which sticks to his shoulder in a big clump.
Carolyn rests her hand on a chair when she talks to Barnabas about Cadogan Square; in the next shot, her hand isn’t on the chair.
There’s a minor continuity error when Jeff, Maggie and Barnabas are talking by the punchbowl. He’s looking at Barnabas in one shot; after the cut, he’s looking at Maggie.
Barnabas says that Josette’s room is exactly the way it was when she died, but the paint is peeling off the wall around her portrait, and there’s cobwebs everywhere.
When Todd sneaks out of the house, his shirt magically unbuttons itself.
Another minor continuity error — when Julia puts away the cross, she puts her hand over it in one shot, and in the next shot, the cross is still visible in her hand.
Just before Barnabas throws Willie down the stairs, you can see a light switch on the wall behind them.
When Stokes comes to visit Willie, there’s a boom mic shadow — it’s in the top left, when Willie moves toward a portrait, and Stokes follows.
When Barnabas and Maggie are walking in the sun, there’s a little mic error as he says “what a lovely, beautiful day it is.” It sounds like the mic brushes up against something.
After Barnabas chokes Julia to death, she blinks.
When old man Barnabas feasts on Maggie in the bed, there’s a continuity error when he straightens up again — after a cut, he’s shifted position.
When the sheriff is handing out silver bullets, none of the cartridges have primers. I don’t know what that means, but apparently bullets don’t work that way.
The box of bullets has a paper label with heavy black cross-outs on one side, and the other side is blank. In close-ups, the paper label side is facing the camera; in long shots, the blank side is facing the camera. At the end of the scene, a cop picks up the box, and you can see the label and markings on the other side of the box.
When vampire Stokes is dead in the water, he moves his right hand.
After vampire Roger is killed, he appears in a mirror.
When Willie gets shot with the crossbow bolt, you can see the outlines of the material under his jacket that the bolt is actually attached to.
Don Briscoe is credited as Todd Jennings, not his actual character name, Todd Blake.
Camilla Ashland is not credited.
They make a sequel.
Monday: The Cast Came Back.
— Danny Horn