Guilty Pleasue Movie: House of Dark Shadows

Movefied shares our reader’s dirty little secrets, their favorite guilty pleasure movie


“Come see how the vampires do it,” read the cheeky tag line for Dan Curtis’s House of Dark Shadows (1970), the feature film adaptation of the popular daytime serial. For five years (1966-1971) on ABC TV, Dark Shadows thrilled kids and housewives with all manner of (mostly bloodless) supernatural happenings. But when it came time to translate the tale to the big screen, series creator Curtis amped up the violence and gore, and created a memorably spooky vampire film for the ages. Skillfully contracting the origin story of two hundred-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) in a tight ninety-seven minutes, Curtis and series scribes Sam Hall and Gordon Russell managed to include most of the principal TV cast in an ensemble that never feels overloaded. Frid, in his only starring role in a major studio film, transforms his anti-heroic soap opera leading man into a sadistic, smirking villain, who rises from the grave to reunite with his long-lost bride (Kathryn Leigh Scott) and, in the process, kills half the town. As his cousin Carolyn, Nancy Barrett is elevated to iconic status as a vampire girl reminiscent of Carroll Borland in Tod Browning’s Mark of the Vampire (1935). House of Dark Shadows may not be the best horror film of all time, but its dark ’70s realism and out-sized violence make it a delightfully guilty pleasure.  (On DVD and Blu-ray 10/30/12 from Warner Home Video). Read more of Will McKinley’s writing on classic film at willmckinley.wordpress.com

Will McKinley is a freelance writer based in New York City. He is a live event producer, and a communications professional. He has been a featured guest on Sirius Satellite Radio. You can read more of McKinley’s writing at willmckinley.wordpress.com. Follow Will on Twitter @ willmckinley.

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