"Vampirism is not a disease, Julia. Vampires are the living dead."
Professor Stokes
House of Dark Shadows
House of Dark Shadows.jpg
Title: House of Dark Shadows
Directed by: Dan Curtis
Written by: Sam Hall; Gordon Russell
Produced by: Dan Curtis
Music by: Robert Cobert
Cinematography: Arthur Ornitz
Edited by: Arline Garson
Distributed by: MGM
Released: October 28th, 1970
Rating: GP
Running time: 97 min.
Country: USA
Language: English
Budget: $750,000 (estimated)
Next: Night of Dark Shadows (1971)

House of Dark Shadows is a 1970 film directed by Dan Curtis and was based on the popular daytime gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows, which aired from 1966 to 1971. House of Dark Shadows adapts a storyline that was presented from episodes #210-230. A sequel film, Night of Dark Shadows was released in 1971, but had very little to do with its predecessor. The plot of House of Dark Shadows centered around a "175-year-old vampire" named Barnabas Collins who has risen from the grave to take control of his family and to find a new bride.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Maggie looks for David.

Maggie Evans is the governess to young David Collins at the Collinwood estate in Collinsport, Maine. David disappears one evening and his father, Roger Collins sends Maggie out to look for him. Maggie searches through the Collinwood stables where she finds the family's drunken handyman, Willie Loomis. Willie has no interest in searching for David, and prefers to tell Maggie about his desire to find the missing family jewels. Roger enters the stable and tells Willie to join the search party for David. Willie tells Roger to look for his own kid, thus incurring Roger's ire. At which point Roger promptly fires him.

Maggie continues her search and goes to the original Collinwood estate known as the Old House. The Old House is one of David's favorite hiding places. David locks Maggie in one of the bedrooms and races off back to Collinwood.

Willie gets a surprise.

Meanwhile, Willie goes to the cemetery and breaks into the Collins family mausoleum. He deciphers a riddle, which leads him into a secret burial chamber, deep beneath the family tomb. Inside is an ancient coffin wrapped in chains. Willie pries the coffin open hoping to find the legendary missing jewels, but instead finds the vampire, Barnabas Collins. Barnabas grabs Willie by the throat and turns him into his unwilling slave.

Later in the evening, Barnabas attacks Daphne Budd – secretary to Collinwood's matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. He drinks her blood and leaves the girl stumbling about the main road leading towards Collinwood. A man named Jeff Clark nearly runs Daphne over with his car. She faints before him, and Jeff brings her back to Collinwood. Doctor Julia Hoffman, a doctor on sabbatical staying at Collinwood, administers medical attention to Daphne.

A few nights later, Elizabeth's daughter, Carolyn and her fiancé Todd Blake go to the restaurant/lounge at the Collinsport Inn. Carolyn sees Willie having dinner with an unidentifiable guest. She speaks to Willie and informs him that he never picked up his last paycheck. Willie apologizes and tells her that he has been busy with his new job.

Meet Barnabas Collins.

Barnabas Collins, now adorned in modern business fashion, arrives at Collinwood and introduces himself. Roger and the others are amazed to see him. He is the spitting image of an ancestor named Barnabas Collins whose portrait hangs in the Gallery room at Collinwood. Barnabas claims to be a descendent of the original Barnabas Collins, whose family moved to England some time in 1797. He gives Elizabeth an extremely valuable necklace that once belonged to the original Barnabas' mother, Naomi Collins. He further asks if he can move in to the Old House – the property owned by his great ancestor. The Collins allow him this opportunity, but warn him that the Old House is in ill-repair and needs to be renovated.

Carolyn Stoddard finds herself irrationally attracted to her more distinguished cousin and visits him at the Old House. She is amazed by the fast progress that Willie and Barnabas are making on the renovations. She and Barnabas speak flirtatiously.

That night, Elizabeth and Roger host a costume ball at Collinwood in honor of the arrival of Barnabas Collins. As Carolyn prepares her dress, Barnabas appears in her room and attacks her. Later, Barnabas meets Maggie Evans, who is dressed in the wedding gown of his 18th century lover, Josette DuPres. Barnabas is smitten with Maggie and learns that she plans on leaving Collinwood. He uses his vampiric guile and convinces her to stay.

Carolyn Stoddard is found dead.

After the party, Barnabas returns to the Old House and ruminates about the tragic death of his beloved Josette. He tells Willie that Maggie is the reincarnation of Josette and he intends on making her his bride. Carolyn arrives and overhears the conversation. She threatens to tell Maggie that Barnabas is a vampire. Barnabas flies into a rage and attacks Carolyn killing her. After satiating his bloodlust he tells Willie to "get her out of here". Willie brings her back to Collinwood where the housekeeper, Mrs. Johnson discovers her body.

Funeral services are held for Carolyn and she is buried in the Collins family mausoleum. Doctor Hoffman analyzes samples of Carolyn's blood and recognizes trace elements of the same unknown virus that was present in Daphne Budd's blood sample. Professor T. Eliot Stokes, a friend of the family confers with Julia and tells her that the recent attacks in Collinsport may have been caused by a vampire. Julia is more clinically minded than Stokes, and has difficulty believing his wild claim.

After the funeral, David is playing down by the old swimming pool when he hears an eerie voice calling his name. Carolyn steps out from the shadows. She is now a vampire. She continues to beckon David, but David runs away from her back to the dining room at Collinwood. He tells everyone that he has seen Carolyn alive, but they dismiss his claims as the byproduct of grief. Only Professor Stokes gives any credence to David's claim. He tells the rest of the family that he believes Carolyn Stoddard is a vampire.

The second death of Carolyn Stoddard.

Later, Todd Blake decides to see if there is any truth behind Stokes' bizarre theory. He goes to the Collins mausoleum and begins skulking about. Carolyn appears from out of the darkness and bites him.

Before long, everyone is aware that Carolyn is a vampire and is actively haunting Collinwood. Sheriff George Patterson confers with Professor Stokes and arms his men with crucifixes and silver bullets. They corner Carolyn in the stables and keep her at bay with their crosses. Several deputies hold her down, while Professor Stokes hammers a wooden stake into her heart.

Shortly thereafter, Julia discovers that Stokes was right, and that the vampire haunting Collinsport is Barnabas Collins. Convinced that she can cure him, she arrives at the Old House and offers him the ability to live as a normal human being. Barnabas feels threatened by Julia's proposition, but the benefits are too great for him to ignore. She begins preparing a series of injections designed to isolate and destroy the offending vampiric cell structure.

Old Barnabas.

Over the course of several days, the process begins to take effect. Barnabas now has the ability to walk in the daylight. Taking advantage of his newfound lease on life, he begins spending more and more time with Maggie Evans. Julia meanwhile, has found that she is falling in love with Barnabas, and is crushed when she discovers that he only has his eyes set on Maggie. With feelings of rejection overwhelming her, she deliberately sabotages Barnabas' next injection. Moments after taking his regularly scheduled serum, Barnabas begins to transform into a hideous old man. He sees Julia's luggage, packed and ready and realizes that she intentionally betrayed him. Despite his aging form, Barnabas lunges at her and strangles her to death.

He then skulks back to Collinwood to find Maggie. He kills a deputy and scoops Maggie up into his arms. He begins to drink her blood as Elizabeth walks in and sees the deranged, blood-crazed old man. Barnabas takes Maggie back to the Old House. After consuming enough blood, he reverts back to his normal appearance. He dresses Maggie up in Josette’s wedding dress and prepares to make her his immortal bride.

Dark wedding.

End of the vampire.

Professor Stokes meanwhile gets with Jeff and Roger. He tells them that Barnabas is the fiend that they are after. Stokes and Roger decide to explore the coves and islands surrounding Widows' Hill. They arrange for Jeff to meet up with them later.

At a little past sunset, Jeff receives a message instructing him to meet Professor Stokes and Roger at St. Eustace Island. He borrows a boat and rows out to the island. He discovers that Barnabas has already found Stokes and Roger and turned them both into vampires. Jeff struggles with each of them individually, but eventually succeeds in ending their undead lives.

He then finds Willie in the ruins of an old castle on the island. The two struggle with one another and Willie knocks Jeff out temporarily. Jeff awakens moments later and follows Barnabas and Willie's trail to an abandoned chapel within the castle. This is where Barnabas has taken Maggie. Jeff arms himself with a crossbow and races across the rotunda.

Jeff finds Barnabas placing Maggie's unconscious body onto an altar. He fires a crossbow bolt into the back of Willie Loomis. Barnabas wheels around and attempts to use his vampiric hypnosis on Jeff. Jeff stumbles about, but eventually regains control of his mind long enough to plunge a crossbow bolt into Barnabas’ back. The weapon pierces the vampire’s heart and Barnabas is destroyed.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This movie re-imagines several of the major storylines that ran throughout the 1967 season episodes of the original Dark Shadows.
  • The novelization of House of Dark Shadows was written by Marilyn Ross and published by Paperback Library in October of 1970. Aside from a few small details, the novelization remains very faithful to the script/film.
  • The tagline for this film is, "A story of blood relations".
  • The portrait of Barnabas Collins that is featured in the gallery room at Collinwood is very similar to the prop used in the original television series, which disappeared around the time of filming.
  • The music box that Barnabas gives to |Maggie Evans is the same prop used in the original television series.

House of Dark Shadows theatrical poster.

  • Jonathan Frid was nominated for 9th place in the Star of Tomorrow category for the Golden Laurel Awards in 1971.
  • There is a scene, which involves David Collins pretending to hang himself in the closet of his bedroom. The scene was never included in the movie and is presumed lost. The scene is detailed however in the House of Dark Shadows novelization.
  • The scenes at Collinwood were filmed at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York.
  • House of Dark Shadows was filmed concurrently with the original Dark Shadows television series. During the time of filming, the television program was in the middle of its 1970 parallel time story-arc. Major characters appearing in the film were written out of the TV series so that they would be available to shoot the movie.
  • A second Dark Shadows film, entitled Curse of Dark Shadows, was scheduled for release the following year. The title was changed to Night of Dark Shadows and featured the characters of Quentin Collins and Angelique Collins. The two films do not necessarily take place within the same continuity.
  • John Karlen, Grayson Hall, Nancy Barrett, and Thayer David are the only actors from House of Dark Shadows who returned to star in Night of Dark Shadows (as different characters).
  • The portrait of Naomi Collins is painted in the likeness of actress Joan Bennett. Joan played Naomi Collins in the 1795 flashback storyline from the original series.
  • Robert Cobert's music score from House of Dark Shadows was featured on the House of Dark Shadows / Night of Dark Shadows Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

The months of June-July are provided in the House of Dark Shadows novelization, while the year 1970 is shown on Carolyn Stoddard's grave in the film. While the months work in print, they would seem to conflict with the visuals of the movie. Barnabas and Maggie are shown walking in front of Collinwood, and the trees are bare and leafless. Maggie is also wearing a knit hat and scarf to keep her warm. This suggests late winter/early spring. Earlier in the film, Carolyn tells Barnabas that she, "shall be in London this summer," implying that the current month is not June or July.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

  • Willie Loomis: 'The Madonnas rest high above, the lion's head watches the dove. And in the womb beneath the hill – a blazing light glows bright and still'.
  • Carolyn Stoddard: I'm beginning to wonder, cousin Barnabas, if I shall ever know you at all. There's so much about you... that I'm dying to know.
  • Professor Stokes: If I told the police that the creature they’re looking for lives by night, and sleeps in a coffin by day – they might question my sanity.
  • Professor Stokes: Vampirism is not a disease, Julia. Vampires are the living dead.
  • Barnabas Collins: You went to her and tried to warn her about me! You betrayed me, Willie!
  • Barnabas Collins: You'll be making a serious mistake if you pursue this, Professor.
  • Barnabas Collins: "Every wedding needs a witness. And you will be witness to this one."
  • Roger Collins: Alright Loomis, you can pick up your pay in the morning.
Willie Loomis" Alright, I'll get my pay. In the morning. But I'll get a lot more than that... before then!

Bloopers[edit | edit source]

  • Don Briscoe's character is named Todd Blake in the movie, but in the credits, his name is listed as Todd Jennings. The Todd Blake name is spoken during Carolyn's funeral. Don Briscoe played characters named Tom and Chris Jennings in the original Dark Shadows series.
  • At the costume party, Maggie asks Jeff if he had already met Barnabas Collins, to which he replies, "yes". No indication of the two men ever meeting prior to the costume party is ever revealed.  The shooting script included a scene that told of Barnabas recommending Jeff for a gallery showing out of town.
  • Although it is stated that Nancy Hodiak dies from her injuries, Todd tells Carolyn that she was strangled before she was bitten.  There is no indication that either she or Daphne Budd were resurrected as vampires.

See also[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]

Ds logo.jpg
Includes films relating to the Dark Shadows television franchise.

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