April 15, 2019

MASTER OF DARK SHADOWS: The True Tale of a TV Titan

https://www.mpihomevideo.com/products/master-of-dark-shadows-1
Narrated by Ian McShane. Featuring Roger Davis, Barbara Steele, Lara Parker, Kathryn Lee Scott, David Selby, Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Cross. Archival Interviews with Dan Curtis, Jonathan Frid. Directed by David Gregory. (2019/87 min).

Review by Fluffy the Fearless­čś║

Dark Shadows was a supernaturally-themed daytime soap opera which ran on ABC from 1966-1971, ending its run only after creator Dan Curtis more-or-less ran out of ideas. Though cheaply produced and often haphazardly shot, the show amassed a huge cult following over the years, spawning books, tie-in merchandise, movies, radio broadcasts, conventions and a television reboot. Anyone who fondly recalls spending weekday afternoons with the creepy Collins family will certainly enjoy this documentary.

Master of Dark Shadows is also about Dan Curtis, a former ad exec who sort-of stumbled into producing by selling the concept of televised golf tournaments. But beginning with Dark Shadows, Curtis became synonymous with TV horror, prolifically cranking out a variety of small screen screamers, a few of which became enduring classics, like Trilogy of Terror and The Night Stalker. Loftier ambitions had him eventually directing The Winds of War, still considered one of the greatest TV miniseries ever made.

When dust bunnies go unchecked.
Curtis died in 2006, but is prominently featured in archive interviews where he discusses his long, colorful career. New interviews include people he worked with or knew him well - actors, writers, his surviving family – painting a pretty vibrant picture of a guy who garnered a lot of respect and admiration, but was also pretty headstrong. A majority of the film, however, is dedicated to Dark Shadows...how it was created, the challenges of producing a daily horror series and a slew of entertaining anecdotes from various cast and crew members. In addition to plenty of clips from the show itself, the cultural impact of the Barnabas Collins character (Jonathan Frid, who passed away in 2012) is highlighted.

Dark Shadows was a little before my time, so I was unaware of its cultural impact and found this film to be an interesting piece of TV history. Master of Dark Shadows is entertaining, informational and a great supplemental disc for anyone who reveres those old episodes. It's also a fitting belated epitaph for a TV titan.

EXTRA KIBBLES
FEATURETTES -Dark Shadows in Hell’s Kitchen: Visiting Studio 16” (Guided tour of the studio by Kathryn Leigh Scott); “Dark Shadows in Print”
JONATHAN FRID ON THE DICK CAVETT SHOW” - From 1968.
JONATHAN FRID: POE & SHAKESPEARE IN THE SHADOWS” - The actor recites “The Tell-Tale Heart” & an excerpt from Richard III. Originally aired on a New Jersey PBS station.
BARNABAS AT THE WHITE HOUSE” - Frid visits a White House Halloween party as part of a fundraiser. From 1969.
THE HOUSE” - A 1954 episode from The Web, which pre-dates Dark Shadows by 10 years.
DAVID SELBY: LIGHT & SHADOWS” - The actor performs a song at a convention.
DARK SHADOWS AUDIO DRAMAS” - This is just a promotional cast list with snippets of dialogue. No actual episodes.
ORIGINAL TV SPOTS
MASTER OF DARK SHADOWS TRAILER
PROMOS & TRAILERS – Dark Shadows-related merchandise, as well as TV boxed sets, that are (or were?) available from MPI.
KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R. LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS.

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