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DVD Review: DARK SHADOWS: THE GREATEST EPISODES COLLECTION - FAN FAVORITES



Studio: MPI Home Video
Year: 2012
Cast: Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, Joan Bennett, David Selby, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Louis Edmonds, Jerry Lacy, Christopher Pennock, Kate Jackson, Thayer David, Denise Nickerson, Donna Wandrey, James Storm, Virginia Vestoff, David Henesy, Alexandra Moltke
Director: various
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 03h:30m:00s
Genre(s): television, horror, occult, soap opera

"Time in the great house on the Collinwood estate is held in suspension." - Victoria Winters (Alexandra Moltke)

DARK SHADOWS: THE GREATEST EPISODES COLLECTION - FAN FAVORITES

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Some entertainment franchises go on and on. A new movie version and a new Complete Series Collection helps keep Dark Shadows on top of the heap. Barnabas and friends chilled us as children and now reaches a whole new generation of fans in a whole new form. This sampler of nine episode drawn from the entire run of the show provides a taste of the shows recipe of mixing soap opera, Gothic horror and supernatural horror. From the angst of cursed vampire Barnabas Collins to the iron-willed witchcraft of Angelique Bouchard to the wide-eyed horror of the haunted and hunted Maggie Evans to the glib tortured soul Quentin Collins, the shows characters and themes created a rich tapestry of occult television that resonates to this day.

Movie Grade: B+

DVD Grade: B

From 1966 to 1971, Dark Shadows held sway over an audience of some 20 million viewers with blend of soapy Gothic romance occult phenomena and, on occasion old-school horror. The role of vampire Barnabas Collins was originated by Jonathan Frid, tackled by Ben Cross in a television remake in the 1990s and in 2012, Johnny Depp takes on the undead icon in a campy big screen remake. Dark Shadows was and has been a venerable franchise encompasses television, comics, motion pictures, music, theater, audio dramas, books, games and other pop culture outlets.

Dark Shadows use a wide array of elements to decorate its serial storyline with melodramatic performances, period atmosphere, memorable storylines, dramatic plot twists, a memorable music score, and a broad tapestry of characters and adventures borrowed from the history or horror literature. The show continues to enjoy an intense cult following and the entire series is rare fro the amount that has been syndicated and released on DVD. Although the original series ran for only five years, its scheduling as a daily daytime drama allowed it to amass more single episodes during its run (1,225) than most other science-fiction/fantasy genre series produced for English-language television.

Besides the release of the big screen re-imagination of Dark Shadows from Depp and cohort Tim Burton, the franchise is also in the news with the release this summer of a Dark Shadow: The Complete Original Series boxed set containing every episode of Dark Shadows (1966-1971) plus interviews with the stars and production personnel. The set is in a coffin-shaped box and the DVDs are housed in 22 individual plastic cases with the spines looking upward to show the entire body of Barnabas lying asleep in his coffin. The set contains 450 hours on 131 DVDs with over 100 bonus interviews, featurettes, promos, music videos, rare footage, special bloopers, cast reunions, treasures and behind-the-scenes footage. The set also includes a 100-page booklet with episode summaries and photographs. The whole shebang lists for $599.98 and will available July 10. Previously, a Limited Edition Complete Series Box Set in the shape of a coffin was released in April with only 2500 copies made with a limited edition card signed by Jonathan Frid and serial numbers on the bottom of the box.

This current release of Dark Shadows: The Greatest Episodes Collection - Fan Favorites features 9 complete TV episodes that rank among the most popular in the history of the show. As a bonus, new, informative introductions for each episode are included delivered by Kathryn Leigh Scott, the actor who portrayed Maggie Evans the waitress-turned-governess. She also played Josette du Pres (a lover of Barnabas Collins who was killed at Widow's Hill in 1795); Rachel Drummond (a governess during 1897); Kitty Soames (aka Lady Hampshire on the second-half of the 1897 storyline); and Maggie Collins (aka Maggie Evans, who married Quentin Collins in Parallel Time 1970). One of the charming aspects of Dark Shadows is the way the company of actors tackled different characters as the show leaped across past, present, and future.

Episodes
Episode 212 April 19, 1967
At the Old House, Barnabas Collins speaks to the portrait of Josette, declaring that he has come home to stay. Although not much happens really in this introduction of Barnabas to Elizabeth Stoddard (Joan Bennett), the overripe acting lays a foundation for the courtly stylish formality that marks the efforts of the actors to keep up with the steady flow of content.

Episode 365 November 17, 1967
A seance is held at Collinwood to contact the spirit of Sarah Collins. During a blackout, Victoria Winters disappears and is mysteriously replaced. The suspense level is high in this episode with many layers of fear and motivation among the group. Then the past and present are intertwined."

Episode 370 November 24, 1967
In 1795, Josette's love for Barnabas makes Angelique jealous and she uses her witchcraft to cause Barnabas to choke. Period soap and occult combine for one of the episodes that laid the foundation for the shows tremendous appeal. Lara Parker as Angelique haunted many a young man's dreams.

Episode 699 February 27, 1969
Grayson Hall as Dr. Julia Hoffman decides there is a connection between Quentin Collins and Chris Jennings, who is under a werewolf curse. Grayson Hall is very much a face of the show after Frid. Her melodramatic doctor is a signature portrayal. Other key roles that she played on the show were those of Countess Natalie Dupres; Magda Rakosi, a Gypsy; Hoffman, a Mrs. Danvers-type housekeeper, Julia Collins; and Constance Collins, sister of Brutus Collins.

Episode 725 April 4, 1969
In 1897, Gregory Trask tells Judith Collins that Jamison Collins is possessed by Quentin's spirit. Jerry Lacy is Trask and he also played the roles of Tony Peterson, Reverend Trask, Mr. Trask, and Lamar Trask on the cult TV serial Dark Shadows.

Episode 1024 May 28, 1970
In Parallel Time, Hoffman the housekeeper tricks Maggie Collins into wearing Anjelique's dress to a costume party. David Selby is memorable as Quentin, the over-wrought Collins scion in this taste of the alternative timeline.

Episode 1065 July 24, 1970
Professor Stokes reveals that both Carolyn Stoddard and Quentin are insane. Nice turn by Nancy Barrett as the nutty Carolyn as he struggles with the mystery of the disappearance of the Collins family in the future. Barrett was also Carolyn Stoddard Hawkes, Millicent Collins Forbes, Charity Trask, Pansy Faye, Carolyn Stoddard Loomis, Leticia Faye, Melanie Collins Young, and Amanda Collins. Quentin is involved in an intriguing Dark Shadows version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

Episode 1102 September 15, 1970
At Windcliff Sanitarium, Quentin districts Julia while David Collins and Daphne Harridge perform a ceremony. Possession and inevitable disaster hover over the characters as they labor to prevent the future from coming true. Future Charlies's Angel Kate Jackson is Daphne.

Episode 1115 October 2, 1970
In 1840, Gabriel Collins orders Gerard Stiles to supply him with arsenic. Barnabas tells Roxanne Drew of his plans. James Storm portrayed Gerard, one of the best of the show's villains. With so little time left for the series, the show seemed to have so much going on.

Watching this small selection from such a large number episodes is a bit frustrating as one gets drawn in and wants to watch what followed or see what came before. But this disc does provide a small taste of what made Dark Shadows so fun and interesting in the original. With three hours of content and a nice price, it is certainly a good choice as a birthday gift to a vampire fan who might have some interesting in the original portrayer of the television bloodsucker. For the true fan of the show, well, the Complete Collection is out there and calling to you like voice from the upstairs hidden room in the old house at Collinwood.


Posted by: Jesse Shanks - April 15, 2012, 12:52 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: television, horror, occult, soap opera




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