Night of Dark Shadows

After a short break, it's nice to be back in Collinwood... or another parallel version of Collinwood... for our look at Dan Curtis' second feature film spun out of the series, NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS!

Quentin and Tracy are driving through 200 acres of wild forest on their way to Collinwood in a convertible while Tracy marvels at the landscape. As it begins to rain, Quentin pulls over to put the top up on the car. 

When they arrive at Collinwood, Tracy surveys the mansion and jokes that she'll turn into one of the women featured in House & Garden. Quentin informs her that they have a housekeeper and Tracy says she bets she looks like Mrs. Danvers. Quentin and Tracy enter Collinwood and are greeted by Carlotta Drake. 

John: Right off the bat, the opening theme for NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS feels completely different from what we've come to expect from Robert Cobert. Similarly foreign are the location shots driving into Collinwood...

Christine: According to The Dark Shadows Movie Book, this movie was filmed entirely at the Lyndhurst estate, while only parts of HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS were filmed there. Though Dan Curtis did allow Robert Cobert to create some new music cues for this film, the opening theme was first heard in Episode 1147 when Quentin played Joanna's song. This version may sound slightly different because of the addition of harmonica. There is a scene that precedes this one in the script that has a "hippy" hitchhiking in a storm who makes his way to Collinwood, breaks in, gets drunk, passes out, and wakes up to some unknown figure clawing his face up. He appeals to someone who approaches with a flashlight, but instead gets brained with a club wielded by Gerard Stiles, as Carlotta Drake stands by. 

In the drawing room, Carlotta explains that Mrs. Stoddard had tea served there every afternoon, and Quentin comments that they won't keep that tradition as he plunks on the piano. Tracy says they can't let the house down, and could invite Claire and Alex for tea in the afternoon. She asks Carlotta if she told Jenkins' they'd be there, but Carlotta seems to be entranced and does not respond right away. She finally says she didn't and offers to show them the rest of the house. 

As they go through the house, Carlotta tells how Joshua Collins built the house in the 1600s and that she used to hide there as a child, describing elegant parties once held. Tracy asks if she lived there as a child and Carlotta tells her she did, as her mother was a housekeeper there. As they ascend the stairs, Quentin glazes toward the top of the staircase asking what's up there, but Carlotta says there's nothing he'd be interested in there now. She confirms for him that it's the tower room he saw from outside. 

In the portrait room, Quentin claims his ancestors would not have bought his work. Tracy explains that his paintings are abstract. Carlotta finds it interesting that he's a painter. He notices a portrait of a woman and asks if she's part of the family. Carlotta says she is, that her name is Angelique Collins and she died in 1810. Quentin becomes fixated on the portrait as Quentin's theme plays. 

He gazes out the window, saying he has a feeling he will do better work there than he's ever done before. He sees a vision of a woman hanging from the tree outside. Tracy asks him what's wrong and he says he was daydreaming.  

John: It's nice to see David Selby return as a different Quentin and Kate Jackson as his wife Tracy! And Grayson Hall is back as Carlotta Drake, who introduces them to the portrait of Angelique Collins, after which Quentin sees a vision of a woman hanging from a tree out the window.

Christine: I was hoping we'd get a glimpse of Barnabas' portrait still hanging in the portrait room.

John: So Quentin's a painter in this time band, and also a piano player, as he sits down and plunks out a bit of his own theme.

Tracy and Quentin snuggle up in bed. Quentin says he almost feels like he's come home again. As they sleep, he begins dreaming of Reverend Strack, condemning Angelique as a witch. He sees someone who looks like him in period clothes chasing Strack down on a horse and stomping him to a bloody death, accusing him of having killed her. He then sees his lookalike go to embrace Angelique at the cemetery. 

He hears himself tell his brother Charles that his wife is dead though she still comes to him. Charles tells him he'll have her for eternity as he's locked into a dark room. Tracy sees that he's having a bad dream, but is unable to wake him. 

John: I was fascinated to see that Quentin's nightmare is shot and scored by Curtis almost identically to how he would shoot a similar nightmare scene with Oliver Reed in BURNT OFFERINGS! In his nightmare Reverend Strack (portrayed by Thayer David) meets an untimely fate at the hooves of a horse ridden by a relative of Quentin (Charles) who apparently loved Angelique. In the dream, we also see Gabriel (another familiar face) as another historical relative.

Christine: In the script, there is an additional scene in the morning when Tracy observes Stiles staring at her from the grounds below with two dogs. When Carlotta enters, she asks about him, and though he's gone, she says it's her nephew and he's a caretaker and keeps the horses. Tracy comments on the dogs, and Carlotta says they're important to the security of the estate. 

Gerard Stiles pours coffee into a thermos as Carlotta enters. He asks if she knows what happened last night. She says everything has changed. He says he was good enough until he came around. She tells him to go to the stables, saying he'll be there soon to ride. She repeats that everything is different now. He grabs his thermos and stomps off. 

Outside, Stiles is working on a brick facade. Quentin approaches him and Stiles says he has his horse ready as he climbs down to meet him. Quentin mounts the horse and Stiles asks if his wife rides. Quentin says she does but not today. 

John: We learn that another familiar face — Gerard Stiles — works on the estate, though his character initially seems to be quite different than the Stiles we're familiar with.

Christine: He seems to be somewhat mentally challenged, though it's clear that some evil is lurking under the surface, which may have been more obvious if the first scene with him clubbing the hippie to death had not been cut. 

Quentin has another vision of Strack as he presides over the funeral of Angelique, causing great laughter from another throwback, Diana Millay aka Laura Collins. 

Nancy Barrett and John Karlen return as married couple Claire and Alex Jenkins, who are writers. Quentin starts to tell Alex about the visions he's been seeing, but stops. 

Carlotta shows Quentin to the room he can use as his studio, and he feels at home there. After she's gone, he finds an unfinished painting behind a secret panel. It's a woman lying in a bed. He then sees a vision of a man and a woman making out. Angelique tells Charles (Quentin's familiar from the past) to bring the painting to life. 

Outside, they hear Angelique's husband, Charles' brother, banging on the door. It's Christopher Pennock and others for Angelique. She scratches one of the men across the face, and warns them not to touch her. 


Christine: In the script, this scene with Charles and Angelique comes later, and instead Quentin hears his theme and has a vision of Angelique playing his song on the piano as Charles enters and starts making out with her. Laura walks in on them and tells Charles that she's a witch. With all the edits and rearrangement of scenes, it's clear to see why this movie feels so disjointed in the execution. 

John: Yeah, no one has to tell you that this was a troubled production. It's quite evident in the finished product. 

Outside the house, Quentin again sees the hanging woman, and then sees a little girl in the upstairs window. He comes into the house, and Carlotta says the room was Mrs. Stoddard's when she was a little girl. Carlotta says she saw him from the window, and it must have been a trick from the light.

Quentin and Tracy have dinner with Claire and Alex. Carlotta brings in a gift. Riding pants. He promises Tracy that he'll wear them someday. Quentin tells Carlotta he found some of Charles' paintings in the studio. She says he was an amazing artist. The group returns to the study, and Quentin tells Alex that he's had more of the crazy daydreams, and will tell him about them tomorrow.

Quentin has another nightmare sequence — this time he gets out of bed and goes up to his studio, where he finds Angelique waiting for him with open arms. Stiles makes his way up to Quentin's study and goes to attack him. Angelique intervenes, and he and Quentin fight. Stiles turns into Charles' brother, and then back. Tracy comes out to stop him from attacking Stiles, and he grabs her throat. She appears as Laura before becoming Tracy once more, and then he comes out of it. Tracy explains to Quentin that Gerard thought he saw a robber in the house. Quentin doesn't understand what's happening to him, but Tracy assures him that she's not afraid of him.

The next day, Alex sees a woman in white entering a worn down greenhouse on the estate. He calls to her, and then searches inside for her. She's nowhere to be found. Glass panels fall, but Alex is able to dodge them. Tracy arrives on a horse and ask him if he's alright. He explains that he was exploring. She tells him about the events of the prior night.

Christine: Pretty amazing work by John Karlen, who dodges falling glass, and Kate Jackson, who dismounts from a running horse like a pro. No stunt doubles used here.

Later Quentin thanks Tracy for not telling Alex anything. Carlotta comes in and he tells her that he won't be using the tower room as his studio, and asks her to bring down his easel and paints. Tracy promises not to bother him in his new studio.

Carlotta brings the portrait of Angelique into the studio and he says he doesn't want it there. He accuses her of knowing about his dreams about Angelique. He asks her if he's dreaming it, or if Angelique is real. She says that the other day, the little girl he saw was Sarah Castle, who lived in the house 150 years ago. She says he's seeing memories of a previous life. Carlotta explains that she is Sarah reincarnated. She tells him that they both lived before, and Angelique loves both of them. She describes Angelique's last day in the house. Laura, Charles' wife, and Gabriel, Angelique's husband, tell Strack that Angelique is in the tower room, seducing Charles. Strack says that Charles will watch Angelique die. As they take her away, Angelique gives Sarah her necklace, and tells her that she will remember her as long as she wears it. 

Carlotta describes how Angelique is hanged in the tree outside the house. Sarah hears Angelique's voice telling her that her love will keep Angelique alive. Angelique is hanged, and Sarah stands outside with her mother (sadly, one of the few glimpses we get of Clarice Blackburn), looking up at her dead body.

Christine: So is Angelique being hanged for being a witch or an adulteress? There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of evidence of witchcraft going on. Still, there are some pretty cool shots of the hanging.  

John: Anyone familiar with the show is likely to accept the claims of Angelique being a witch, but you're right, it's not particularly well developed from what we're shown in the film.  

Quentin realizes that Angelique's spirit is still alive in the house. He explains that he's not Charles Collins, and Carlotta says he will come to accept it in time. She adds that there is no place in the house for Mrs. Collins. He says he loves Tracy, and she suggests that he leave if he can.

We get a Quentin/Tracy romantic montage. Later, Tracy calls Alex, who tells her they're going into New York for a few days. She tells Quentin, and she goes up to bed while he stays downstairs to read. He stares at the portrait of Angelique, and then goes up to his bedroom, where he sees Tracy sleeping. He steps out and shuts the door.

Tracy wakes and goes up to the tower room. She knocks, and calls to Quentin. He opens the door, and she points out that he said he wasn't going to go to the tower room any more. He doesn't say anything. She asks him if there's someone else in the room. He suggests that she go back to bed. She asks him again, and he repeats the question, before telling her that the sight of her makes him sick. She turns and leaves. He tells her not to let him catch her up there again.

The next morning, Tracy asks Carlotta where Quentin is. She says he left for town to get supplies. She asks Tracy if something's wrong, and she says there is. She adds that it's none of her business, and snaps at her when Carlotta asks what time she would like dinner. She asks Tracy if she ever thought that she doesn't belong in the house. She leaves, and Tracy looks up at the portrait of Angelique. She then notices Quentin's coat on a chair, and takes the keys from the pocket.

Tracy makes her way upstairs to the tower room. She goes inside and looks around. She finds the portrait showing Quentin carrying her unconscious body to the reclining Angelique.


Christine: That is certainly a disturbing portrait!

John: And not as accomplished as so many of the great paintings we saw in the original series...

Quentin returns home as Tracy makes the discovery. She hears him coming up the stairs, until he realizes that he doesn't have the keys. She sneaks out and runs into Carlotta. She finds Quentin downstairs, asking for his jacket. She picks it up off the couch, stealthily dropping his keys as she does. He takes it, and the keys, and leaves. Tracy watches from the window as Carlotta runs to tell Quentin something before he drives off.

That night, Quentin comes out of the tower room and locks the door behind him. He finds Tracy in the bedroom, with tears running down her cheeks. He smiles at her and tells her it's alright. He says it doesn't matter that she went to the tower room. She tells him that she doesn't understand, and is afraid. He tells her that he didn't mean the things he said last night. She asks if he loves her, and he kisses her. He then forces himself on her, telling her that he'll touch her whenever and however he wants, and if she doesn't like it she can leave.

Claire tells Alex that she doesn't like being back there. Looking at a painting of Charles Collins, she says that Quentin could be Quentin's twin. Alex says he just needs the scar on his cheek, as they look at a painting of Charles. He tells her that he has to convince Quentin to leave.

That night, the ghost of Angelique visits Alex, who has fallen asleep downstairs. Claire wakes up and goes downstairs to find him being assaulted by a spectral form. It disappears, but he remains unconscious.

Tracy goes to the pool, searching for Quentin. She seems him, limping towards her. He asks if it isn't enough that she killed her. He asks if she'll ever leave them alone. From Quentin's POV, we see that he sees Laura, not Tracy. He throws her into the pool as she says, "it's me." He holds her head underwater until she doesn't surface again. 

John: More interesting elements that would later be echoed in BURNT OFFERINGS...

Christine: There are a lot of similarities. Does that make Gerard the smiling chauffeur?

John: Gerard cannot touch Anthony James when it comes to portraying the ultimate creepy character.

Christine: Anthony James is the stuff of nightmares in BURNT OFFERINGS, but Gerard Stiles may have been his precursor. 

Alex and Claire drive to Collinwood. He tells her Quentin will leave even if he has to drag him. They see him leave the poolhouse, and go inside, where they find Tracy in the pool. He sits on her back until she spits up water.

Alex goes to Collinwood and demands that Carlotta open the door. She does, and he demands to know where he is. Stiles tries to stop him, and Quentin tells him to leave Alex alone. Alex tells Quentin that Charles tried to kill Tracy, and he has to get out of the house. He begs him to come with him. Quentin asks where Tracy is, and Carlotta says she's sure she's in her room. He runs upstairs and finds her room empty. 

Quentin goes back to Alex and says Tracy is gone, and if that's the way she wants it, that's fine. He tells Alex he wants him and his sick writer's mind to get out, and take Tracy with him. He leaves. We hear Quentin's music play, but must assume that it's actually Charles' theme in the film. He pours himself a drink as Carlotta looks on. He sees a scratch on his arm, and asks Carlotta if Alex was right. She says he did it for Angelique.  He asks where Gerard is, and she says he's doing what must be done. Quentin sees Angelique at the top of the stairs and says that he's not Charles Collins, and he won't allow them to be hurt.

As Alex drives away, Gerard pulls out in a truck and nearly runs him off the road. Gerard chases Alex and ultimately causes him to crash into a tree.  

Claire and Tracy wait for Alex. Claire says she heard something outside, and grabs a gun from a drawer (another Dark Shadows staple!). They go to the window and pull back the shades. They see a man and Claire shoots him in the face.

They go outside to investigate, but don't see a body. They rush back inside, where a bloody-faced Gerard is waiting for them.

Quentin finds Alex sitting by his crashed car, saying Gerard almost killed him. 

Gerard has Tracy in his truck, kissing her. She screams and hits the horn, which alerts Quentin who comes running. Gerard pushes her out of the car and tries to run over Quentin.  

He crashes the car and Quentin chases him onto a bridge. Gerard pulls a knife, and the two struggle. He cuts Quentin's cheek, and Tracy hits him with a railroad tie and knocks him to his death. 


Christine: Good to see Tracy deliver the final blow after Stiles mashed his bloody face onto hers.  That was pretty gross. 

John: Yeah, while we never really understand what his issues were, he certainly deserved his fate.

Alex, Claire, Quentin and Tracy return to Collinwood. Quentin says they have to find Carlotta to end this, as she's the one keeping Angelique's spirit alive. 

Quentin and Tracy carry candelabras through the catacombs beneath the house. They get separated when a door closes between them. The spirit of Angelique approaches Tracy. She screams and Quentin asks her what it is. He can't get through the door.

Alex finds Carlotta on the roof. He says he doesn't want to hurt her. She looks down and sees Angelique on the ground below, beckoning her with arms outstretched. Carlotta throws herself off the roof, falling towards Angelique's open arms. 

Christine: If Carlotta was the one keeping Angelique's spirit alive, why would she beckon her to fall to her death? I get it. She wasn't the one keeping her spirit alive.

John: Still, unless we're to believe she was hallucinating, why would Angelique basically beckon her to fall to her death? Did she want some ghostly company to help her haunt Collinwood? 

Christine: It may have been an indication that she was no longer needed since she served her purpose in delivering Quentin to her, which may have been a forewarning to what to expect at the end. 

Quentin gets through the door and finds Tracy, unconscious. She comes to and he tells her that she'll be all right.

Days later, Quentin tells Alex, Claire and Tracy that as of now, the estate is up for sale. Alex tells Quentin that he's glad he was wrong; that he thought it might be Quentin keeping the spirit alive. Quentin drives Tracy back to Collinwood, explaining that he has to pick up his canvases. He tells her it will just take a minute, and leaves her in the car.  

Quentin grabs his canvases, and then stops when he sees a door opening at the end of the hall.

Tracy gets out of the car and looks up at the house. She walks to the driver's side of the car and honks. She then goes inside the house. She calls to him and goes upstairs. She can't find him, but finds his canvases. She sees him sitting in a chair facing the window. He stands up. She asks him what's the matter and he limps over to her. She asks why he's limping. She turns and sees Angelique. She screams. She sees the bloody scar on his face. 

A teletext types across the screen saying that husband and wife novelist team died in a car accident in Collinsport, Maine. 

Final thoughts:

John: I guess we now know where Dan Curtis got his ending for BURNT OFFERINGS! The only thing missing was to have Kate Jackson come flying out the window of the house.

Christine: That was a great ending, so I guess it bears repeating. This is a beautifully shot film with some wonderfully eerie scenes. I appreciated the film a lot more after reading through the shooting script, as this version does not make a lot of sense. 

John: It appears that a lot of scenes were truncated, as evidenced by abrupt cuts in the music cues. It certainly feels disjointed. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed what's in the film... I had avoided it for years because it didn't deal with the characters/storyline with which I had some familiarity from the episodes of the show that I had seen. Now I'm even more interested in seeing the footage that was cut from the film. It's truly a shame that the surviving footage, which has been discovered, has not been made available. When you consider how fortunate we are to have the entire original series saved for the ages, and just how many fans have supported it from VHS to DVD to streaming, it's disappointing that MGM doesn't seem interested in providing the lost version to the long-standing fan base. We've certainly learned to never say never when it comes to these sorts of things, but I can't help but point out what a missed opportunity it was not releasing it in time for the film's 50th anniversary. 

Christine: As the story goes, Dan Curtis was told by the head of the studio to cut 40 minutes from the film and given only 24 hours to do it. Darren Gross describes how he discovered the lost 129 minute version back in 1999 in the chapter "Shedding Light on Night of Dark Shadows" in the Dark Shadows Almanac. He also noted that all of MGM's library of films pre-1986 were sold to Turner, and owned by the conglomerate of Turner and Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers has had over 20 years to allow the restoration to go forward, so it's hard to hold out hope that we'll ever see that version. It certainly is a shame if that version is never released. It has the potential to be a truly great horror film. 

John: Some day. As a side note, for our readers interested in reading up on BURNT OFFERINGS, check out our review of that film on our sister blog.

Christine: I wonder now if BURNT OFFERINGS provided Dan Curtis the opportunity to make the movie he had wanted to create with NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS. 


Peter Enfantino said...

I vividly remember picking up the issue of Famous Monsters with NODS on the cover and being extremely excited to see it. This was in the days when you had to read FM to find out anything about the latest horror movies. I can also vividly remember seeing the film at the El Rancho Drive-in at age ten and absolutely hating it. That was rare for me in those days.

Grant said...

I've just never seen the big problem with it, missing scenes or no missing scenes.

Jeff Baker said...

Looks interesting! Thanks for posting! (Oh, and I think that's Christopher Pennock, not "John Pennock.")