Connect with us

“Master of Dark Shadows” Might Be A Glorified Obituary



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

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

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

Continue Reading


Finally, the Cinderella story of the Richmond Greyhounds has come to an end.



We are now in a new season for the team, and they have started off on the wrong
foot. The team is broken up and Ted has his work cut out for him. The team goes
through a slump, and Ted is now doubting his coaching ability. Ted’s personal life
has also gotten out of control, and he discovers his ex-wife Michelle has started a relationship with their therapist. The wonderkid, Nathan Shelley, the former manager of West Ham has had a change of heart and leaves his job to be with his one true love, the waitress from his favorite restaurant.

She convinces him to return to the Richmond team he started out in and it’s quite evident that
everyone wants him back and held no hard feelings. All of Lawrence’s series he has worked on with others have just that right balance of slice-of-life drama with a little bit of ridiculous comedy that reality dishes us, normal folks, every day.

This all comes to a head in the potential series finale where Ted announced to
Rebecca that he will be returning to the States to his family after his mother tells
him that his son misses him. This puts the Richmond owner into quite a state of denial; doing everything from offering Ted the position of being the highest-paid coach in the league to selling the team after he leaves. The team is also affected by this decision as they perform a number from the musical The Sound of Music that is a more than touching farewell to this family.

This bleeds into their playing as in the final title match the first half is met with
bumbling and possible injuries to their star player Jamie.
After an energizing pep talk and a circle back to the first motivator in the
beginning, a sign Ted made up that said “BELIEVE”, the team dominate the second
half and win with a rousing closing scene that is reminiscent of any 80’s party
movie. It’s a fitting end for this pandemic darling that emotionally carried us through. It is
a must-see series even if you don’t like soccer (football).

Continue Reading


No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters



If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago. 

It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced. 

 Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.

Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game. 

From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.

Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.

The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.

What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?

And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.

Back to the movie. 

Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.

Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.

The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!

Continue Reading


Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023



Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).

Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).

Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2023 That's My Entertainment