Directed by Tim Burton
Story by John August and Seth Grahame-Smith
Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith
Based on the television series created by Dan Curtis
I remember the original “Dark Shadows” a bit differently than everyone else. I was only four years old when the show made its debut in 1966; so I don’t recall watching the show very much, if at all. What my memory does retain about the show and the corpuscle craving Barnabas Collins came from within the pages of my sister’s 16 and Tiger Beat magazines. Don’t laugh; if it had pictures to look at I had my nose stuck in it. Then, as I learned to read I would learn all about the people whose photos I gazed upon in wide-eyed wonder. I discovered that “Dark Shadows” was a popular and scary TV show and that Barnabas Collins was one ‘hunky’ vampire. That is what I remember about the show.
So, it doesn’t bother me that Tim Burton’s big screen adaptation takes a more comedic approach to the story of the Collins family of Collinsport, Maine. The film chronicles the turning of Barnabas Collins from grieving lover to eternal bloodsucker at the hands of the jealous witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green in a scenery chewing performance). Resurrected in 1972, Barnabas struggles to adapt to the times as he attempts to restore the Collins name to prominence and resumes his love-hate relationship with the aforementioned Ms. Bouchard.
Johnny Depp does an impressive job as Barnabas Collins; and despite there being an all-star cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter, this is Depp’s movie all the way. I have no problem with that. Depp has been a constant in Tim Burton’s films for the past 20 plus years and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
What I do have a problem with is Burton’s balance within the film. Burton’s movies have always been both two parts bright and sunny and one part dark and gloomy, or they’ve been the exact opposite. Sometimes the balance has been just right (Batman, Edward Scissorhands), other times it’s been disastrous (Mars Attacks). Unfortunately, Dark Shadows falls into the latter category. Remember, I said that the comedic approach Burton takes with film doesn’t bother me and I meant that. What does bother me is that I wish he’d remembered to throw in a little more of the “Dark” to go along with the “Shadows.”
This is Tim Burton’s eighth film with Johnny Depp, his seventh film with Helena Bonham Carter, his fifth film with Christopher Lee, and his second film with Michelle Pfeiffer(Pfeffer had starred in Batman Returns twenty years previously).
Kathryn Leigh Scott reported at the Dark Shadows Festival in Brooklyn (August 19-21, 2011) that she, Lara Parker, David Selby and Jonathan Frid were treated “like royalty” when they arrived on set for their cameos during the first week of July 2011, and thatJohnny Depp walked up to Jonathan Frid and said, “None of this would be possible had it not been for you” referring to Frid’s original portrayal of the Barnabas Collins role and its impact on the success of the original series.
Christopher Lee stars with Jonny Lee Miller in this film; decades earlier, Lee had appeared with Miller’s grandfather Bernard Lee in the OO7 film The Man with the Golden Gun, which was based on a novel written by Lee’s cousin Ian Fleming.
This was Jonathan Frid’s last film.
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Directed by Dan Curtis
Screenplay by Richard Matheson
Based on the short story “Prey” by Richard Matheson
It was 1975, I was 13 years old lying on the couch watching the ABC Movie of the Week. It was a little film called TRILOGY OF TERROR and it starred Karen Black in the role of three very different, tormented women. There was Julia, the schoolteacher; Therese and Millicent, the twins; and finally, Amelia. The first two stories were so-so and to be honest I was going to change the channel if it didn’t get any better. I decided to stick it out and after it was all over I found myself wishing that I hadn’t. I was afraid to get off the couch for fear that I would feel needle sharp teeth biting into my leg; or the sting of a tiny, razor sharp spear jabbing into me. I was scared that if I went to the bathroom that the Zuni Fetish Warrior doll would find me, just like it did Amelia in the last story of the movie. She was a grown woman and even she couldn’t kill that miniscule monstrosity after the binding chain dropped from its waist and it came back to life to hunt her and possess her. How the hell was I, a 13 year old boy, going to fare against this diminutive demon warrior from the Aborigine tribes? Hell no, I was not going to get off that couch! I’ll sit here until doomsday if I have to. Well, until then, or at least until mom yells at me to get my butt to bed. Then, when I’m hauling ass to bed I’m going to break the land-speed record getting there. That little bastard isn’t getting me.
Alright, so I guess you can see that the final story in the movie TRILOGY OF TERROR made a truly lasting impression on me. Even 36 years later I still find myself looking under the bed to make sure that little doll isn’t waiting for me. The story is based on a short story by the legendary Richard Matheson. Matheson was a jack of all trades novelist, screenwriter and short story writer. If you’ve been to the movies at any time in your life then chances are you’ve seen something based on his work. A STIR OF ECHOES, SOMEWHERE IN TIME, WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, THE OMEGA MAN , I AM LEGEND and REAL STEEL are just some of the films based in his novels. Oh, and lest we forget, he was the man responsible for giving William Shatner a “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” on the old TWILIGHT ZONE TV series. It was also Matheson who wrote the story that made the world take notice of a young director named Steven Spielberg with his road rage made-for-TV masterpiece DUEL. However, it was “Amelia”, the final story in that little 1975 TV movie TRILOGY OF TERROR, written by Matheson and based on his short story “Prey” that gave me the first sleepless night of my life.
If I ever see Richard Matheson, I’m going to walk straight up to him and I’m going to look him in the eye and I’m going to say, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”
Featured below, in three parts, in the entire story “AMELIA”. I apologize for the film quality. It was the best I could find.
Karen Black contributed much to the 3rd segment “Amelia”. She re-wrote her first conversation with her mother on the telephone. Black wanted to emphasize that the mother was controlling and manipulative. The original words made the mother out to be too nice. Making the mother controlling of Amelia would make the audience more on her side when we realize what is going to happen to the mother when she comes to visit. Also when the doll is trying to escape from the suitcase the effects men could not figure how to show that Amelia is cut. Black thought to have them place the blood on her finger which she would hide from the camera until it was time to reveal the bloody finger.
The original Zuni doll puppet owned by director, Dan Curtis, was used for the new sculpts of the Zuni doll for the sequel, Trilogy of Terror 2.
The idea of grinning and showing fang-like teeth similar to the ‘zuni’ doll – the final and arguably the most chilling image in the film – actually came from Karen Black herself.
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