Monday, May 28, 2012

DVD Review - Dark Shadows: The Revival

After a heavy advertising campaign, NBC aired the reboot of the 1966-1971 Dark Shadows soap opera in January 1991, but only this time it was aired in primetime instead of daytime. The series followed the basic plot of the original with Victoria Winters (played by Joanna Going) traveling on a train to Collinsport where she has taken a job as governess at the Collinwoods. She’s really there to take care of David (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who claims to see ghosts at the “old house.” While this is happening, Willie Loomis breaks into a crypt looking for jewels, but instead he releases the vampire cursed Barnabas Collins (played by Ben Cross).

    Barnabas makes Willie is servant. Then he quickly introduces himself to the Collins as a cousin from England, in which the family gives him the “old house.” When Barnabas sees Victoria, he wonders if she is the reincarnation of his lost love Josette Du Pres. This here is a major change as in the original Maggie Evans was the look-alike for Josette. Barnabas peruses a relationship with Victoria.

    Barnabas is a vampire, so he does feed on the locals, which results in Dr. Julia Hoffman (played by Barbara Steele) learning of his blood sucking ways. She claims that she can cure him and mysteriously falls in love him.

    During a séance, Victoria Winters is sent back in time to the year 1790, where she poses at the governess. She meets the Barnabas before he was cursed, her double Josette, and the witch Angelique (played by Lysette Anthony). Before long, the Collins suspects that Victoria is a witch and they plan to hang her.

    The movie length pilot did well in ratings in 1991, but because of the first Gulf War coverage, the series got preempted and the ratings dropped. Thanks to the cult following, MGM released the series on DVD a few years ago. All thirteen episodes are available on the three DVD set.

    I remember the constant advertisements for the series when I was a kid. My parents let stay up to watch the two hour premiere. If I remember correctly, the episodes were shoved around because of the Gulf War. The series never really had a chance because of this. It’s great that fans can get a chance to see the series in full, even though the last episode ended in somewhat of a cliffhanger. There are some problems/errors with the DVD. When the show was original filmed, they filmed some night scenes during the day and they would later alter the scenes during post-production. When MGM remastered the series for DVD, this was not taking into consideration; therefore we get a vampire walking in daylight.

    All the new actors fit perfectly into their roles, all accept for Jim Fyfe who played Willie Loomis, whose been altered to be a half-wit. I can’t blame the actor as I’m sure he did his best. I blame the writers and producers for changing the character.

    Dark Shadows: The Revival isn’t perfect, but it is a fun watch, and the DVD should satisfy most fans.

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