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Night of Dark Shadows

Promotional film poster for Night of Dark Shadows
Directed by Dan Curtis
Produced by Dan Curtis
Written by Dan Curtis,
Sam Hall
Starring David Selby,
Grayson Hall,
Kate Jackson,
Lara Parker
Music by Robert Cobert
Cinematography Richard Shore
Editing by Charles Goldsmith
Studio Dan Curtis Productions
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (USA, theatrical)
Release date(s) 1971
Running time 95 min,
129 min (USA, director's cut)
Country United States USA
Language English
Preceded by House of Dark Shadows

Night of Dark Shadows is a 1971 horror film by Dan Curtis. It is the sequel to House of Dark Shadows. It centers on the story of Quentin Collins and his bride Tracy at the Collinwood Mansion in Collinsport, Maine.

David Selby, Lara Parker, John Karlen, Kate Jackson, Grayson Hall, and Nancy Barrett star.

Night of Dark Shadows was not as successful as House of Dark Shadows, but it did a fair amount of box-office business.[1]



After the success of House of Dark Shadows, the feature film version of Dan Curtis' Gothic soap opera "Dark Shadows", MGM were ready to back a follow-up film in 1971. Curtis originally wanted to do a direct sequel and revive the vampire Barnabas Collins. However, actor Jonathan Frid refused to play the role again for fear of type-casting. Realizing it would be a mistake to recast the popular character, Curtis worked with writer Sam Hall to concoct an all-new storyline.

The story they created was very loosely based on the "parallel time" sequence of the TV show, and was centered around the show's other popular male lead Quentin Collins, played by David Selby. The film, Night of Dark Shadows, was shot in six weeks on a budget of $900,000 and released in 1971, after the TV show had left the air. It was not unsuccessful, but less successful than its predecessor, despite its chilly atmosphere and intriguing plotline. One reason often cited for the film's lack of performance is that MGM forced Curtis to cut over 35 minutes from his finished film, and gave him only 24 hours to do the job. So the film went from approximately 129 minutes to about 94 minutes, which, according to some, caused the film to lose its coherence. Much of the excised footage was recovered in 1999, but unfortunately, without sound. This material consists of 16 never-before-seen sequences, extending over a dozen existing scenes, reinstating the darker mood, and restoring the original structure and continuity. Amongst the highlights in the version are a flashback between the doomed lovers, Charles and Angelique Collins; two new scenes featuring menacing groundskeeper Gerard Stiles; several romantic interludes between Quentin and Tracy; a candlelit ‘exorcism’ sequence in the gallery - the film’s original climax; and notably, the ‘hanging’ sequence, as well as several other scenes with intensity on par with an R-rated film.[2][3][4]


Handsome young artist Quentin Collins arrives at his newly-inherited estate of Collinwood with his beautiful wife Tracy. They meet the housekeeper, Carlotta Drake, and the caretaker, Gerard Stiles. The Collins' friends, Alex and Claire Jenkins, who are both novelists, move into a cottage on the estate.

Quentin soon begins to be troubled by startling visions and haunting dreams about one of his ancestors, Charles Collins, and his ancestor's mistress Angelique, who had been hanged as a witch in a past century. Carlotta eventually reveals to Quentin that she is the reincarnation of Sarah Castle, a little girl who had lived at Collinwood over 150 years ago, and that Quentin himself is the reincarnation of Charles Collins. Charles had had an affair with Angelique, wife of his brother Gabriel, resulting in her being hanged and Charles being sealed alive in the family crypt with Angelique's corpse.

On a trip to New York, the Jenkins' discover a painting of Charles Collins, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Quentin. Convinced that their friends are in grave danger, the couple hurry home to Collinwood. They are attacked by the ghost of Angelique.

Meanwhile, Quentin has become possessed by the spirit of Charles Collins and attempts to drown Tracy in a disused swimming pool on the estate. Alex and Claire arrive in time to revive her, but Quentin, having no memory of his actions, refuses to believe their wild tale.

Carlotta and Gerard conspire to eliminate Quentin's loved ones. Quentin, seeing the scratches on his wrist where Tracy had tried to fend him off, realizes the truth of Alex's warning and rushes to rescue his friends. Gerard has managed to take Tracy prisoner (despite his having been shot in the face by Claire), and Quentin fights with him high atop a train trestle. Quentin defeats Gerard, who plunges to his death.

The group rush to confront Carlotta, but she jumps from the top of Collinwood when the ghostly Angelique beckons her from below.

In the end, Quentin and Tracy are about to leave Collinwood when Quentin goes back inside the house. Tracy follows to find him now completely possessed by Charles Collins, and Angelique reborn in the flesh. The camera freezes on Quentin's face as he advances menacingly toward Tracy.

A newspaper caption at the end reveals that Alex and Claire Jenkins have been killed in a car accident.

The Making of 'Night of Dark Shadows'

On March 29, 1971, filming began on The Curse of Dark Shadows, later re-titled Night of Dark Shadows for its release. Without the headaches of producing the television series concurrently, the production crew were able to achieve a far more polished product than the previous year. In order to give the production some authenticity, spiritualist Hans Holzer was employed as an advisor to the production, though his actual contribution to the finished product proved minimal.

Hall's script, developed in conjunction with Curtis, was a wistful tale of gothic romance and supernatural reincarnation, bolstered by credible performances from David Selby, Kate Jackson and Grayson Hall. When filming completed without major problems, Curtis set about editing the final film, which proved far denser and more complex than House of Dark Shadows.

DVD Speculation

Night of Dark Shadows and House of Dark Shadows have never been released on DVD. Both were released on VHS on September 1, 1998, but are currently out of print. Both films can currently be rented from Amazon Video on Demand.

A Look at the Violence in 'Night of Dark Shadows'

In 1971, Dark Shadows returned to the big screen for Night of Dark Shadows, and although the film Collinwood would again prove very different from that of the television series, it appeared that Dan Curtis' direction had indeed matured. The excessive employment of tomato ketchup was gone, and, in its place, the most adult version of Dark Shadows ever presented. Unlike its predecessor, Night of Dark Shadows depicted reality; every violent act seen in the film could be copied by the viewer, thus making the film far more disturbing. From the brutal drowning scene to the climactic knife-fight, Night of Dark Shadows brought the format into the real world, something Dark Shadows had never before attempted. Whereas the problem with House of Dark Shadows was its ridiculous gore, Night of Dark Shadows revealed a gritty Collinwood, filled with truly violent acts. Most notably, there is a great emphasis given to the painful implications of the violence, which underpins many scenes of a dangerous, shocking nature.

For the viewer, violence in Dark Shadows had previously been akin to that of cartoons, but with Night of Dark Shadows, the audience is presented with a world that is all too similar to their own. Arguably, this may well have alienated the audiences: by placing Collinwood in our own world, the escapism of the format is at least partially lost. That this experiment failed is regrettable, since the production team had battled to move Dark Shadows away from the perceived childishness of its television format, into a more mature realisation. What arose from this intention was a more adult version of the show, yet one that was continually reminding us of the implications of the violence it presented. Ironically, the most violent Dark Shadows incarnation would also show the most maturity over its subject matter.



  1. ^ Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
  2. ^ The Dark Shadows Companion: 25th Anniversary Collection, edited by Kathryn Leigh Scott, Pomegranate Press Ltd., 1990, ISBN 0-938817-25-6
  3. ^ Dark Shadows Memories: 35th Anniversary, by Kathryn Leigh Scott, Pomegranate Press Ltd., 2001, ISBN 0-938817-60-4
  4. ^ The Dark Shadows Movie Book: Producer/Director Dan Curtis' Original Shooting Scripts from "House of Dark Shadows" and "Night of Dark Shadows", edited by Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jim Pierson, Pomegranate Press Ltd., 1998, ISBN 0-938817-48-5

External links



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