Night of Dark Shadows (1971)

PG   |    |  Drama, Horror, Mystery


Night of Dark Shadows (1971) Poster

A painter and his wife move into a home and find themselves plagued by ghosts and spirits of his ancestors that used to be witches.


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  • David Selby in Night of Dark Shadows (1971)
  • Kate Jackson in Night of Dark Shadows (1971)
  • Lara Parker in Night of Dark Shadows (1971)
  • Lara Parker and David Selby in Night of Dark Shadows (1971)
  • David Selby in Night of Dark Shadows (1971)
  • Grayson Hall and Jim Storm in Night of Dark Shadows (1971)

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18 May 2001 | hackwriter
9
| A call to bring the REAL 'Night' into the light of day
Late actress Grayson Hall was Oscar™ nominated for her role as Judith Fellowes in John Huston's 1964 film `Night of the Iguana'. But Hall's BEST career performance might well be found in a different 'Night of...' film. We won't know for sure unless/until the current owners of 'Night of Dark Shadows' -- the Turner/Time Warner entertainment conglomerate -- get on board for a fan-requested restoration of the film.

This story begins with the 1970 theatrical release of 'House of Dark Shadows', the first theatrical film based on a TV soap opera, 'Dark Shadows'. Giddy about the unprecedented ability of a TV soap opera to sell movie tickets, MGM executives approved a second DS film. Originally titled 'Curse of Dark Shadows', the film (directed by Dan Curtis) also starred David Selby, Lara Parker, and Kate Jackson, the three actors destined to enjoy the most post-DS mainstream success.

The 93-minute film released to theatres in 1971 as 'Night of Dark Shadows' (or NODS, in fan jargon) was roundly dismissed by critics and audiences alike. Contemporary viewers deemed the film disjointed and difficult to follow: events lacked proper motivation, characters appeared and disappeared without sufficient explanation, and there was no build-up of suspense as the film raced toward its denouement.

In a 1996 cover story he wrote for 'Video Watchdog' magazine, film historian and restorationist Darren Gross explained that a drastic, eleventh-hour editing job forced on Curtis by MGM essentially crippled the film. By all accounts, the hacking-up of NODS was more extreme and bloody than any of the make-believe violence perpetrated by the vampires, werewolves and ghosts that populated the supernatural TV series and films.

In 1999, following a long and frustrating search, Gross located an unexpurgated 129-minute cut of NODS in a studio vault housed in a Kansas City salt mine.

Gross reported that the narrative and thematic focus of the uncut NODS is completely different than that of the 93-minute release version. In 2000, Gross told readers of the 'Louisville Eccentric Observer' ('LEO') that a disturbingly Gothic mood is sustained throughout the entire runtime of the 129-minute NODS, and the emotional and sexual chemistry between the Selby and Jackson characters is brilliantly conveyed in scenes that are completely absent from the shorter version.

Some major hurdles remain to the planned restoration and DVD release of NODS, not the least of which is convincing the film's owners that the never-before-seen 129-minute version has significant commercial viability.

The following facts should help settle that argument: 1) The 1966-71 ABC series 'Dark Shadows' now boasts several generations of fans across the globe, and their interest and dedication have kept the show in syndicated reruns since shortly after its network cancellation; prior to the advent of a cable channel programmed almost exclusively with soap reruns, it was the only soap to receive such treatment; 2) NODS features Oscar™ nominee Grayson Hall, which lends the film importance from the perspective of cinema history; and, 3) the release version of NODS made no real sense, while the restored version does.

I invite and encourage all would-be fans of the uncut NODS to join me in voicing support for this worthwhile restoration and release project.

Critic Reviews



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Did You Know?

Trivia

The piano solo "Joanna" from Dark Shadows (1966) was adapted into the love theme for the film.


Quotes

Tracy Collins: There's someone else in that room, isn't there?


Goofs

Near the beginning of the film, Quentin goes to bed wearing gold (or yellow) pajamas. Then in his nightmare sequences that follow the pajamas are blue.


Crazy Credits

When the MGM lion roars, no sound comes out.


Alternate Versions

The original director's cut of Night of Dark Shadows was screened for MGM executives at 129 minutes. Unhappy with the running time, studio head James Aubrey ordered director Dan Curtis to cut around 40 minutes out of the picture, as it was considered a B-programmer. Curtis was given only 24 hours to re-cut the picture, and the 97 minute version was approved by Aubrey. The picture was press screened at that length, but afterward an additional 4 minutes were cut from the picture without Dan Curtis' consent, probably in order to guarantee a GP rating (1971's PG equivalent) as all of this material cut was violent or sexually suggestive in nature. During release some of the preview (97 mins) prints were accidentally circulated and still show up today, probably through private collectors as the 97 min prints are no longer held in MGM's archive. Dan Curtis' 129 min original version has been considered lost and presumed destroyed for decades, but film historian Darren Gross unearthed the sole existing material for this version in August 1999. Plans for restoration and release of this version are currently being formulated.

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Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Horror | Mystery | Romance | Thriller

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