Dark Shadows Bloopers Still In Good Fun
By Kristin Battestella
My father and uncle cringed when hoisting my heaviest trunk up my new condo’s steps, and my husband was downright appalled when he asked what was inside. “My Dark Shadows tapes,” I told him.
All 42 taped off TV with their scribbled labels-some even with commercials! My mother was a fan growing up, so I saw reruns now and again as a child and spent most of my teen years thanking the Sci Fi Channel for airing the entire gothic soap series from beginning to end. My obsessions come and go, so I’ve never upgraded to MPI’s VHS series or the new DVD releases of Dan Curtis’ half hour daytime soap, which ran from 1966 to 1971. Every October, however, I get a hankering for Barnabas, Quentin, and that creepy theme music. Thus I rented Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures.
Perhaps one of the most well known-if not THE most- known show ever for hokey production values, Dark Shadows episodes were taped live, with no time to correct mistakes, much less budget and technology of the day. Some of the bloopers presented are almost famous; the late Louis Edmunds as Roger Collins claiming, “Some of my incestors-incestors!-my ancestors are buried here.” There’s falling sets, name flubs, and just as many trick candles, cameramen, and boom mikes as there are cast members. Although some of the editing is poor, and a few of the mistakes presented are actually tough to spot. It would have been nice to have the segments divided and labeled or introduced by the cast. There’s no background music, but it’s neat that the goofs seemed to be grouped together by actor. Who’s the biggest culprit? I can’t tell you!
The music video segment opens and closes with some creepy highlight reels and poetry from Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins, but of course we have nearly all the musical segments from the show. Both incarnations of Pansy Faye and ‘I Wanna Dance For You’; Quentin’s theme and the lyrics to ‘Shadows of the Night’; even a very young Nancy Barrett grooving it up at The Blue Whale.
This compilation dates to 1991 and 1992, but Lara Parker looks quite old in her newer In Salem segment. The witch history, locations, and guests are very interesting and go hand in hand with Dark Shadows’ resident witch-who’s also pushing a new DS novel. Unfortunately, the sound and editing is poor and tough to hear.
At least there’s great fun to be had in the game show segment, although I’d never heard of The Generation Gap. (The clothes! The Hair!) Jonathan Frid’s heartthrob cheers from What’s My Line and Alex Stevens’ removal of his wolfman mask on the same show is a delight. Joan Bennett needed no introduction on Line, and it’s sad her prolific work is not known to today’s audiences. Yet it’s amazing that there’s still treats like this to be discovered from almost a fifty year old show.
The promos segment is a little misleading, however. This is Dark Shadows Bloopers after all, so the promos-which were promoting MPI video, conventions, and Dark Shadows books- are instead a reel of slip ups with Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker, and Jonathan Frid. Comedy Tonight turns the tables and presents Dark Shadows inquisitor Jerry Lacy as a vampire, and there’s even a commercial for Barnabas pillows. Alrighty then! There’s a separate section devoted to merchandise as well, including books by David Selby, and a very creepy trailer for the Dark Shadows audio dramas.
I was surprised to find this DVD widely available, although my VHS Dark Shadows Scariest Moments is just that, a VHS only. The menus and music are fun and user friendly, I like the jazzed up rendition of Quentin’s theme. Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures is a must for fans young and old, but I don’t know its caliber as an introduction piece. Young folks might laugh and tune in or laugh and tune out. There’s plenty of DS material to be had for all: DVDs, books, even mouse pads from darkshadowsdvd.com. For some spooky fun, try Dark Shadows: Bloopers and Treasures one October night.