Tag Archives: Dan Curtis

DARK (SHADOWS) PHOENIX

masc graveyard newThe latest attempt at cramming the X-Men’s lengthy, years-long Dark Phoenix storyline into one movie is now in theaters. With everybody reviewing that cram course Balladeer’s Blog will instead take a look at the female Phoenix character from the original 1966-1971 run of Dark Shadows.

Amazingly enough, I often encounter people who claim to have never heard of the Gothic Horror soap opera Dark Shadows. Not the original 5-day a week cult series (still available in reruns), not the movies, not the attempted reboot in 1991 and not the ongoing series of audio plays set in the 1970s onward. If anything they’ve heard of the incredibly lame Tim Burton comedy version of the show starring Johnny Depp.

Laura the Phoenix paintingDecades before Bella Swan was torn between a supposedly hunky vampire and a supposedly hunky werewolf in the Twilight novels, female readers of Tiger Beat magazine were torn between Dark Shadows‘ horror heart-throbs. Jonathan Frid’s vampire Barnabas Collins was one and David Selby’s werewolf/ warlock/ Dorian Gray-figure Quentin Collins was the other.  

Diana MillayIn terms of female horror heart-throbs from Dark Shadows, Lara Parker’s evil witch Angelique is the best known, but obviously this post will address the unusual supernatural menace the Phoenix, aka Laura Collins, played by Diana Millay (right) on the original Dark Shadows.      

In Dark Shadows lore Laura Collins was sold to a Phoenix Cult in Egypt in the 1700s by her evil lover, for whom she had abandoned her husband back in America. The cult used Laura as an offering/ guinea pig, transforming her into a supernatural figure called the Phoenix. Continue reading

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FRANKENSTEIN (1973) FROM DAN CURTIS

Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog and so does the 200th anniversary year of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. FOR THREE MORE REVIEWS OF DAN CURTIS HORROR PRODUCTIONS CLICK HERE 

Frankenstein 1FRANKENSTEIN (1973) – Dan Curtis was well-known for his Dark Shadows television series, the original Night Stalker telefilm and its sequel The Night Strangler. Throw in The Norliss Tapes, Trilogy of Terror and about a dozen more made-for-tv exercises in the macabre.  

In Frankenstein Robert Foxworth stars as Dr Frankenstein and Bo Svenson portrays his famous monster in what was originally a two-part presentation on The Wide World of Mystery. (“He’s an artificially created monster who solves murders!”)

Susan Strasberg played the good doctor’s love Elizabeth, Willie Aames was William Frankenstein and John Karlen from Dark Shadows appeared as Otto.

Leif Garrett, soon to appear as one of the murderous children in Devil Times Five, was briefly glimpsed as a little boy running from the Frankenstein Monster. Heidi Vaughn and Brian Avery were along for the ride as the DeLaceys.   Continue reading

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HALLOWEEN WITH DAN CURTIS

Jack Palance and THE Billie Whitelaw in Dan Curtis' Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Jack Palance and THE Billie Whitelaw in Dan Curtis’ Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Dan Curtis was well-known for his Dark Shadows television series, the original Night Stalker telefilm and its sequel The Night Strangler. Throw in The Norliss Tapes, Trilogy of Terror and about a dozen more made-for-tv exercises in the macabre.  

In keeping with Balladeer’s Blog’s overall theme here’s a look at four of Curtis’ overlooked horror productions, ranging from excellent to laughable.

Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeDR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE (1968) – Believe it or not Jack Palance does a decent job as the dual title figure in this made for tv movie which also starred Denholm Elliott, Oskar Homolka and BILLIE WHITELAW, who was introduced in this production. 

This rendition of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is top quality for a 1968 television effort and reflects the best elements of Curtis’ then-current Dark Shadows but without the frequent on-air gaffes that plagued that live broadcast.  

The story is very nicely adapted with just the right amount of foggy London streets, murders and increasingly obscene behavior from Edward Hyde. One of the best features of this Dan Curtis treasure is the way it retains Robert Louis Stevenson’s oft-neglected point that it was Jekyll behind the horror all along – Hyde was simply the “mask” that gave free reign to the dark urges Jekyll suppressed in his everyday “respectable” life. Continue reading

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