House of Dark Shadows

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
House of Dark Shadows
Promotional film poster
Directed by Dan Curtis
Produced by Dan Curtis
Written by Sam Hall
Gordon Russell
Starring Jonathan Frid
Grayson Hall
Kathryn Leigh Scott
David Henesy
Roger Davis
Music by Bob Cobert
Cinematography Arthur Ornitz
Editing by Arline Garson
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (USA, theatrical)
Release dates
  • September 9, 1970 (1970-09-09)
Running time 97 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget $750,000 (estimated)
Box office $1,836,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]

House of Dark Shadows is a 1970 feature-length horror film directed by Dan Curtis based on his Dark Shadows television series. Filming took place at Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York, with additional footage at nearby Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. In this film expansion, vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) searches for a cure for vampirism so he can marry a woman who resembles his long-lost fiancée Josette (Kathryn Leigh Scott). Curtis followed this movie one year later with Night of Dark Shadows, another expansion of the Shadows franchise, dealing with the witch Angelique Bouchard.


Willie Loomis, The Collins' Family handyman, is searching for old treasure in the family mausoleum when he accidentally frees Barnabas Collins, a 175 year old vampire who enslaves him. Upon his release, he attacks Daphne Budd – secretary to Collinwood’s matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. She is discovered by Jeff Clarke who takes her back to the house where Dr. Julia Hoffman administers medical attention to her.

Barnabas introduces himself to the family under the guise of a "cousin from England". Elizabeth and the others are intrigued by Barnabas and take an instant liking to him. Barnabas insists on moving into the Old House and hosting a ball in honour of the family. However on the night of the ball, Elizabeth's daughter, Carolyn is bitten by Barnabas while she is getting ready.

Later on at the ball, he is introduced to young David Collins' governess and Jeff's girlfriend, Maggie Evans, and is instantly smitten by her as she bears a striking resemblance to his long-lost fiancée, Josette DuPres. Maggie is thinking about leaving Collinwood but Barnabas persuades her to stay. Back at the Old House, he tells Willie about Josette and how she took her own life on the night they were to be married. Carolyn overhears and threatens to expose him out of jealousy. Enraged, Barnabas kills Carolyn, much to Willie's horror. Willie takes Carolyn back home and she is discovered by the maid, Mrs. Johnson.

Funeral services are held for Carolyn and she is buried in the Collins family mausoleum. Dr. Hoffman analyzes samples of Carolyn's blood and recognizes trace elements of the same unknown virus that was present in Daphne Budd's blood sample. Professor T. Eliot Stokes, a friend of the family, confers with Julia and tells her that the recent attacks in Collinsport may have been caused by a vampire.

Carolyn rises as a vampire and almost attacks David. Stokes and Julia try to explain but Elizabeth and Roger refuse to listen. Carolyn's former fiancé, Todd, encounters her and she bites him. After he is taken back to Collinwood, the family realise that Stokes and Julia were correct about the vampires. Todd again sneaks out in search of Carolyn, but she is cornered and staked, instantly killing her.

Julia eventually discovers that Barnabas is the vampire responsible. She visits him at the Old House and convinces him that she can use her methods to make him human and he reluctantly agrees. Julia gives him injections which allow him to walk in the daylight. Overtime, Barnabas and Maggie begin to spend time together while Jeff is away in Boston. Stokes confronts Julia about helping Barnabas and realises she is love with him and reminds her that he is in love with Maggie. Overcome with jealousy, Julia gives Barnabas an injection which causes him to age rapidly. Out of rage, he strangles her to death. Maggie rushes away, but he bites her before she can escape and vows to come back for her. Jeff soon returns and he is informed of the family history by Stokes and Roger, and that Barnabas intends to make Maggie his bride. That night, Barnabas bites Maggie again and abducts her.

Jeff and the others pursue them; however, Roger and Stokes are killed. Jeff eventually finds Maggie at on old church in trance and in Josette's wedding gown. Willie warns him against trying to stop Barnabas and knocks him out. Willie leads Maggie out of the room to where Barnabas is waiting for her. He lays her down on an altar and is about to bite her when Jeff wakes up and shoots at him, but Willie jumps in the way. Barnabas lures Jeff out his hiding place and forces him to be a witness; however, he stabs him with a stake, presumably killing him. Maggie wakes up from her trance and Jeff carries her home.

In a post-credit scene, Barnabas' body transforms into a bat and then vanishes.



Dark Shadows producer Dan Curtis began pitching the idea of a film based on his gothic soap opera hit sometime in 1968. The project was finally given the greenlight at MGM by company president James Aubrey in 1970. Curtis decided to use the original Barnabas storyline as the basis for the film, but with a modified conclusion.

The film was shot in six weeks for a budget of $750,000. Principal shooting took place at several historic locations, including the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York, where the production had to work around the scheduled public tours of the house. Additional footage was shot at nearby Sleepy Hollow Cemetery: parts of the locals appeared on the Dark Shadows series as well. Some interior scenes were shot at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in Norwalk, Connecticut. Along with the original cast, Dan Curtis added other actors: he added to the cast Terry Crawford, Jerry Lacy, and Michael Stroka, who did the Dark Shadows 1890s segments, Don Briscoe, who played cursed twins Chris and Tom Jennings, Dennis Patrick, who played Paul Stoddard and Jason McGuire, and George DiCenzo, who did more behind-the-scenes work on the last two years of the show.

Unrestricted by TV's censors, the film is far more graphically violent than its television counterpart, with dripping vampire bites and bloody deaths. The film was released at the height of the TV show's popularity to great commercial success.

Dark Shadows producer Dan Curtis's original idea had been to edit together footage from the original TV series into a feature-length film, an idea which was quickly abandoned. The TV series was still in production while the film was being made. Some characters had to be temporarily written out of the show so that the actors would be available to appear in the movie. Barnabas, for example, was trapped in his coffin on the TV show by a failed writer who wanted to use the vampire's life story as the basis for a novel.

The preview version of the film included a scene where young David Collins pretends to hang himself. It was removed because there were concerns some children might "try this at home". No copies of this footage are known to exist. Another scene that was shown in some theaters has Jeff testing out the crossbow before pursuing Barnabas.

A paperback novelization of the film by Marilyn Ross (who had written a series of novels based on the TV show) was published in October 1970. The novel is based on the original script, and contains some scenes which were either cut from the movie, or were never filmed.


The second film was originally supposed to bring back Barnabas, and was to be called Curse of Dark Shadows (according to Famous Monsters of Filmland).[citation needed] Before preproduction could begin, the show had gone off the air and Jonathan Frid had moved on to other things. Instead, Night of Dark Shadows was made, focusing on Collinwood after new heir Quentin Collins (David Selby) takes over. Elizabeth Stoddard gets a brief mention in the film, but is not present.


House of Dark Shadows has been released on VHS, and as a two-sided laserdisc (the laserdisc packaged with Night of Dark Shadows, which is out of print). It is also available on iTunes, on the PlayStation 3 Movie Network (Digital DVD quality), and for rental at Amazon Unbox.

Warner Home Video has announced the re-release of both films on DVD in 2012; House of Dark Shadows is set to be released for the first time alongside Night of Dark Shadows on DVD and Blu-ray on October 30, 2012.[2]

As of now, both movies are available in DVD format. There are no extras on the DVD other than the movie trailers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1970", Variety, 6 January 1971 p 11
  2. ^ " House of Dark Shadows". Retrieved July 17, 2012. 

The Dark Shadows Companion: 25th Anniversary Collection, edited by Kathryn Leigh Scott, Pomegranate Press Ltd., 1990, ISBN 0-938817-25-6 Dark Shadows Memories: 35th Anniversary, by Kathryn Leigh Scott, Pomegranate Press Ltd., 2001, ISBN 0-938817-60-4 The Dark Shadows Movie Book: Producer/director Dan Curtis' original shooting scripts from House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows, edited by Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jim Pierson, Pomegranate Press Ltd., 1998, ISBN 0-938817-48-5

External links[edit]