Connect with us

“Master of Dark Shadows” Might Be A Glorified Obituary

Published

on

There are two reviews to be written about Master of Dark Shadows, a new documentary nominally about producer/director Dan Curtis. For those of you already immersed in his work, there’s not much in the film you won’t already know.

Worse, much of Curtis’ career is reduced to bullet points between the demise of “Dark Shadows” — the Gothic soap he created in 1966 — and his expensive television collaborations with Herman Wouk in the 1980s, “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance.” The cover art might depict Carl Kolchak, the Zuni Fetish Warrior from “Trilogy of Terror” and Bette Davis in “Burnt Offerings,” but “Master of Dark Shadows” breezes past them with barely a mention. Worse, they’re referenced only in regards to Curtis’ interest in escaping the horror ghetto, which is not especially flattering to those works or their fans.

Still, as someone who loves many of the movies and television series touched upon in the film, it felt nice to spend a little time with old friends. Master of Dark Shadows might be a glorified obituary, but it’s an obituary for someone whose work I adore. I’m glad this movie exists, even if the content is a little underwhelming.

For those of you less familiar with Curtis, think of Master of Dark Shadows not as an obituary, but as a 100-level college course. From a cultural perspective the movies and television shows he created, produced, directed or championed make up some of the fundamentals of American horror. I’d put Dan Curtis in the same category as Rod Serling, Richard Matheson and sure, even Joss Whedon.

You always know when you’re watching a Dan Curtis production, credits be damned. They’re deeply American in their sensibilities, which often makes them difficult to parse. He shares Hammer’s interest in formal wear and cleavage, but none of their sense of grace and moral tradition. I’ve compared his first feature, House of Dark Shadows, to Italian Giallo films, but that comparison falls shy of being correct because of the stodgy displays of sexuality in his movies. Curtis also loved classic monsters like vampires, ghosts and witches, but preferred to slam them together against the nihilistic sensibilities of 1970s cinema. There are no happy endings in a Dan Curtis production.

Of course, none of this is really discussed in Master of Dark Shadows. Instead, director David Gregory holds our hand as he walks us briefly through the early days of Curtis’ career as a salesman for syndicated television and his first real success as a producer, bringing golf to television with “Challenge Golf.” Curtis was able to parlay this success into making a pitch for a dramatic series, negotiating with ABC in 1966 for a project that became Dark Shadows. After a slow start, the Gothic soap became a television sensation, and it’s here in the film that Jonathan Frid wrestles away control of the narrative from both Curtis and Gregory. Which is no small feat for a man who has been dead since 2012.

Despite being billed as “The Gothic World of Dan Curtis,” the majority of Master of Dark Shadows is spent discussing Dark Shadows. And whenever you discuss Dark Shadows, you’re going to spend most of your time talking about Frid, the Canadian actor who joined the cast more than 200 episodes into the show’s run and became a pop culture sensation. The gaunt, middle-aged alumnus of Yale and Oxford was set to retire from acting when offered the role of Barnabas Collins…a year later he found himself an unlikely teen heartthrob appearing on the covers “Tiger Beat” and “Sixteen” alongside Davey Jones and David Cassidy.

Image courtesy of collinsporthistoricalsociety.com

More than an hour passes before Master of Dark Shadows moves on from Dark Shadows and Jonathan Frid, spending about 10 minutes on his Herman Wouk adaptations (the first of which, The Winds of War, cost a whopping $38 million to produce — less than some actual wars) before moving back to… Dark Shadows. In this case, it’s the 1991 prime-time “revival” series for NBC, but even in this sequence — the final one in the documentary — you can sense resentment from Curtis over having to return to the well.

Ben Cross, the actor who succeeded Frid in the role of Barnabas Collins, says Curtis wanted to distance himself from the original series to such an extent that he asked the cast not to watch it. Decades later, on another channel and shooting on a different coast, Curtis still found himself in the shadow of Jonathan Frid.

Master of Dark Shadows closes on footage from the 50th anniversary Dark Shadows Festival in 2016 in Tarrytown, New York, and some words from Curtis that Gregory must not have digested. “I’ve always said I’d be remembered for Dark Shadows,” Curtis says in an interview taped sometime before his death in 2006. “And not things I really cared about, which were the great epics that I made. ‘Dark Shadows’ will be the thing that will be on my gravestone.”

When the closing credits begin to roll, it’s over the face of Frid as Barnabas Collins, fangs bared in a panel from the 1971 Dark Shadows newspaper comic strip.

Image courtesy of collinsporthistoricalsociety.com

Frid manages to upstage Curtis in the documentary’s bonus features, too. Among them are a delightful 1968 appearance by Frid on “The Dick Cavett Show” in which the two actors try to out-manner each other. (The episode has been lost, but has been “reconstructed” with stills and audio of the appearance.) There’s amazing newsreel footage of Frid’s 1969 UNICEF Halloween appearance at The White House with Tricia Nixon, plus his “Shakespeare & Poe in the Shadows” PBS special from 1983.

Dark Shadows cast member Kathryn Leigh Scott takes us on a guided tour of the New York City studios used by the show in the 1960s, which is invaluable because the studio has since been demolished. And … well, there’s lots of great bonus features on Master of Dark Shadows. My reaction to the documentary might be lukewarm, but the special features make this disc an essential part of any Dark Shadows fan library.

You can find read more from Wallace on Dark Shadows at
http://www.collinsporthistoricalsociety.com

Continue Reading

Streaming

Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery in a World Gone Prehistoric!

Published

on

Hold onto your hats, dino fans! The highly anticipated sequel to the adrenaline-pumping Camp Cretaceous saga is here, and it’s taking us on a wild ride six years in the making. Following the harrowing events of Camp Cretaceous, our beloved “Nublar Six” are back, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. In fact, they’re about to plunge headfirst into a world where dinosaurs roam freely alongside dangerous humans, and trust us when we say, it’s a Jurassic jungle out there!

Picture this: a world where survival isn’t just about avoiding sharp-toothed predators but also navigating the treacherous waters of human greed and deceit. As our resilient heroes reunite in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching tragedy, they quickly realize that danger lurks around every corner, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford. 

But wait, there’s more! Prepare to embark on a globetrotting adventure like no other as the Nublar Six find themselves thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens not only the fragile balance between dinosaurs and humanity but also their very existence. From the lush jungles of Isla Nublar to the bustling streets of bustling cities, buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions as our intrepid group races against time to uncover the truth about one of their own and, ultimately, save both dinosaur and humankind from certain doom.

So, dear readers, if you thought you’d seen it all in Jurassic Park, think again! With heart-stopping action, pulse-pounding suspense, and jaw-dropping revelations, this latest installment promises to be a game-changer in the Jurassic universe. Get ready to roar with excitement because Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery is about to take a bite out of your imagination and leave you hungry for more!

Continue Reading

Streaming

Netflix’s Upcoming Thriller ‘Trigger Warning’ Promises Action-Packed Intrigue”

Published

on

Get ready to buckle up for an adrenaline-fueled ride as Netflix prepares to drop its latest original thriller, “Trigger Warning,” on June 21, 2024. Directed by Mouly Surya and boasting an all-star cast, including Jessica Alba, Mark Webber, Tone Bell, Jake Weary, Gabriel Basso, Anthony Michael Hall, Kaiwi Lyman, and Hari Dhillon, this film is set to keep viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

The plot centers around Special Forces commando Parker, portrayed by the talented Jessica Alba. Parker’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives the heartbreaking news of her father’s sudden passing, prompting her to return to her hometown. As she steps into her new role as the owner of the family bar, Parker quickly realizes that there’s more to her father’s death than meets the eye.

Reconnecting with figures from her past, including her former flame turned sheriff, Jesse (Mark Webber), and his volatile brother, Elvis (Jake Weary), Parker finds herself embroiled in a dangerous web of deceit and violence. With the influential Senator Swann (Anthony Michael Hall) casting a shadow over the town, Parker must navigate treacherous waters to uncover the truth about her father’s demise.

As tensions rise and alliances shift, Parker taps into her elite commando training, determined to unravel the mysteries plaguing Swann County. Assisted by her covert ops partner and hacker, Spider (Tone Bell), and the enigmatic local dealer, Mike (Gabriel Basso), Parker embarks on a perilous journey filled with twists and turns.

Penned by John Brancato & Josh Olson and Halley Gross, “Trigger Warning” promises to deliver a gripping narrative packed with action, suspense, and unexpected revelations. With a powerhouse cast bringing the characters to life and a talented creative team behind the scenes, this Netflix original is primed to captivate audiences worldwide.

Produced by Erica Lee, Basil Iwanyk, and Esther Hornstein, “Trigger Warning” offers a thrilling glimpse into the murky depths of small-town politics and criminal underworlds. With its pulse-pounding action sequences and compelling storyline, this film is sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Mark your calendars for June 21, 2024, as “Trigger Warning” arrives on Netflix, ready to ignite your senses and keep you guessing until the credits roll. Don’t miss out on this adrenaline-charged cinematic experience that promises to be the ultimate summer blockbuster.

Continue Reading

Streaming

Unveiling the Epic Journey of Ayrton Senna: Netflix’s New Limited Series

Published

on

Buckle up, racing enthusiasts, as Netflix gears up to premiere its highly anticipated limited series, “Senna,” in late 2024. Delving into the captivating life and career of Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, this six-episode fictional saga promises to deliver an immersive experience like no other.

In a mesmerizing teaser video released today, viewers catch a glimpse of the adrenaline-fueled world of Formula 1 as they witness the recreation of Ayrton Senna’s historic victory at the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix. Narrated by the iconic Galvão Bueno, the teaser provides a tantalizing peek into Senna’s triumph on the Interlagos circuit, a pivotal moment in his illustrious career.

Portrayed by the talented Gabriel Leone, Ayrton Senna takes center stage as the series chronicles his journey from the genesis of his motor racing career in England’s Formula Ford to his tragic accident at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy. Through triumphs, disappointments, joys, and sorrows, viewers will be taken on an emotional rollercoaster, unveiling the true essence of one of the greatest sports heroes of all time.

But “Senna” is not just about racing; it’s about the man behind the helmet. The series delves deep into Senna’s personality and personal relationships, offering a nuanced portrayal of the enigmatic figure who captured the hearts of millions around the globe.

Behind the scenes, “Senna” boasts an impressive lineup of talent, with Vicente Amorim and Julia Rezende serving as showrunner and co-director, respectively. Produced by Gullane in collaboration with Senna Brands and the driver’s family, the series promises to stay true to the spirit of Ayrton Senna’s legacy.

Joining Gabriel Leone in bringing this epic tale to life are Alice Wegmann as Lilian Vasconcelos, Camila Márdila as Vivianne Senna, Christian Malheiros as Maurinho, and a stellar international cast including Kaya Scodelario, Arnaud Viard, Patrick Kennedy, and more.

From the exhilarating race tracks to the intimate moments behind closed doors, “Senna” offers a front-row seat to the captivating story of a racing icon. So rev up your engines and mark your calendars for the premiere of “Senna,” coming soon to Netflix. Get ready to experience the thrill, the drama, and the legacy of Ayrton Senna like never before.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2023 That's My Entertainment