- A story of blood relations.
- Barnabas Collins, vampire, takes a bride in a bizarre act of unnatural lust.
- Come see how the vampires do it.
Maggie Evans is the governess to young David Collins at the Collinwood estate in Collinsport, Maine. David disappears one evening and his father, Roger Collins sends Maggie out to look for him. Maggie searches through the Collinwood stables where she finds the family's drunken handyman, Willie Loomis. Willie has no interest in searching for David, and prefers to tell Maggie about his desire to find the missing family jewels. Roger enters the stable and tells Willie to join the search party for David. Willie tells Roger to look for his own kid, thus incurring Roger’s ire - he is promptly fired.
Maggie continues her search and goes to the original Collinwood estate known as the Old House - one of David’s favorite hiding places. David locks Maggie in one of the bedrooms and races off back to Collinwood.
Meanwhile, Willie goes to the cemetery and breaks into the Collins family mausoleum. He deciphers a riddle, which leads him into a secret burial chamber, deep beneath the family tomb. Inside is an ancient coffin wrapped in chains. Willie pries the coffin open hoping to find the legendary missing jewels, but instead finds the vampire, Barnabas Collins. Barnabas grabs Willie by the throat and turns him into his unwilling slave.
Later in the evening, Barnabas attacks Daphne Budd – secretary to Collinwood’s matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. He drinks her blood and leaves the girl stumbling about the main road leading towards Collinwood. A man named Jeff Clark nearly runs Daphne over with his car. She faints before him, and Jeff brings her back to Collinwood. Dr. Julia Hoffman, a doctor on sabbatical staying at Collinwood, administers medical attention to Daphne.
A few nights later, Elizabeth's daughter, Carolyn and her fiancé Todd Blake go to the restaurant/lounge at the Collinsport Inn. Carolyn sees Willie having dinner with an unidentifiable guest. She speaks to Willie and informs him that he never picked up his last paycheck. Willie apologizes and tells her that he has been busy with his new job.
Barnabas Collins, now adorned in modern business attire, arrives at Collinwood and introduces himself. Roger and the others are amazed to see him - he is the spitting image of an ancestor named Barnabas Collins whose portrait hangs in the Gallery Room at Collinwood. Barnabas claims to be a descendent of the original Barnabas Collins, whose family moved to England some time in 1797. He gives Elizabeth an extremely valuable necklace that once belonged to the original Barnabas' mother, Naomi Collins. He further asks if he can move in to the Old House – the property owned by his great ancestor. The Collins allow him this opportunity, but warn him that the Old House is in ill-repair and needs to be renovated.
Carolyn Stoddard finds herself irrationally attracted to her more distinguished cousin and visits him at the Old House. She is amazed by the fast progress that Willie and Barnabas are making on the renovations. She and Barnabas speak flirtatiously.
That night, Elizabeth and Roger host a costume ball at Collinwood in honor of the arrival of Barnabas Collins. As Carolyn prepares her dress, Barnabas appears in her room and attacks her. Later, Barnabas meets Maggie Evans, who is dressed in the wedding gown of his 18th century lover, Josette DuPres. Barnabas is smitten with Maggie and learns that she plans to leave Collinwood - David's antics have finally gotten too much for her. He uses his vampiric guile and persuades her to stay.
After the party, Barnabas returns to the Old House and ruminates about the tragic death of his beloved Josette. He tells Willie that Maggie is the reincarnation of Josette and he intends to make her his bride. Carolyn arrives and overhears the conversation, and threatens to tell Maggie that Barnabas is a vampire. At this Barnabas flies into a rage and attacks Carolyn, killing her. After satiating his bloodlust he tells Willie to "get her out of here". Willie brings her back to Collinwood where the housekeeper, Mrs. Johnson, discovers her body.
Funeral services are held for Carolyn and she is buried in the Collins family mausoleum. Dr. Hoffman analyzes samples of Carolyn's blood and recognizes trace elements of the same unknown virus that was present in Daphne Budd's blood sample. Professor T. Eliot Stokes, a friend of the family, confers with Julia and tells her that the recent attacks in Collinsport may have been caused by a vampire. Julia is more clinically minded than Stokes, and has difficulty believing his wild claim.
After the funeral, David is playing down by the old swimming pool when he hears an eerie voice calling his name. Carolyn steps out from the shadows - she has become a vampire. She continues to beckon David, but David runs away from her back to the dining room at Collinwood. He tells everyone that he has seen Carolyn alive, but they dismiss his claims as the byproduct of grief. Only Professor Stokes gives any credence to David’s claim. He tells the rest of the family that he believes Carolyn Stoddard is a vampire.
Later, Todd Blake decides to see if there is any truth behind Stokes’ bizarre theory. He goes to the Collins mausoleum and begins skulking about. Carolyn appears from out of the darkness and bites him.
Before long, everyone is aware that Carolyn is a vampire and is actively haunting Collinwood. Sheriff George Patterson confers with Professor Stokes and arms his men with crucifixes and silver bullets. They corner Carolyn in the stables and keep her at bay with their crosses. Several deputies hold her down, while Professor Stokes hammers a wooden stake into her heart.
Shortly thereafter, Julia discovers that Stokes was right, and that the vampire haunting Collinsport is Barnabas Collins. Convinced that she can cure him, she arrives at the Old House and offers him the ability to live as a normal human being. Barnabas feels threatened by Julia’s proposition, but the benefits are too great for him to ignore. She begins preparing a series of injections designed to isolate and destroy the offending vampiric cell structure.
Over the course of several days, the process begins to take effect. Barnabas now has the ability to walk in the daylight. Taking advantage of his newfound lease on life, he begins spending more and more time with Maggie Evans. Julia meanwhile, has found that she is falling in love with Barnabas, and is crushed when she discovers that he only has his eyes set on Maggie. With feelings of rejection overwhelming her, she deliberately sabotages Barnabas’ next injection. Moments after taking his regularly scheduled serum, Barnabas begins to transform into a hideous old man. He sees Julia’s luggage, packed and ready and realizes that she intentionally betrayed him. Despite his aging form, Barnabas lunges at her and strangles her to death.
He then skulks back to Collinwood to find Maggie. He kills a deputy and scoops Maggie up into his arms. He begins to drink her blood as Elizabeth walks in and sees the deranged, blood-crazed old man. Barnabas takes Maggie back to the Old House. After consuming enough blood, he reverts back to his normal appearance. He dresses Maggie up in Josette’s wedding dress and prepares to make her his immortal bride.
Professor Stokes meanwhile gets with Jeff and Roger. He tells them that Barnabas is the fiend that they are after. Stokes and Roger decide to explore the coves and islands surrounding Widows' Hill. They arrange for Jeff to meet up with them later.
At a little past sunset, Jeff receives a message instructing him to meet Professor Stokes and Roger at St. Eustace Island. He borrows a boat and rows out to the island, but discovers that Barnabas has already found Stokes and Roger, turning them both into vampires. Jeff struggles with each of them individually, but eventually succeeds in ending their undead lives.
He then finds Willie in the ruins of an old castle on the island. The two struggle with one another and Willie knocks Jeff out temporarily. Jeff awakens moments later and follows Barnabas and Willie's trail to an abandoned chapel within the castle. This is where Barnabas has taken Maggie. Jeff arms himself with a crossbow and races across the rotunda.
Jeff finds Barnabas placing Maggie's unconscious body onto an altar. He fires a crossbow bolt into the back of Willie Loomis. Barnabas pulls the bolt from the mortally wounded Willie's back, wheels around and attempts to use his vampiric hypnosis on Jeff. Barnabas drops the crossbow bolt, which is noticed by the dying Willie--still laying on the floor. As Barnabas attempts to vampirize Maggie, hands drive the crossbow bolt into his back; he yells out in pain, turning to see Willie, who uses his last bit of life energy to stop the vampire. Barnabas angrily bellows Willie's name and strangles him to death; in that moment, the hypnotic effect on Jeff is broken, and realizing what has happened, Jeff finishes driving the crossbow bolt into Barnabas’ back. The weapon pierces the vampire’s heart and Barnabas is destroyed.
Jeff rescues the revived Maggie. They briefly look at the corpses of Barnabas and Willie, then leave the chapel. Moments later, Barnabas' corpse transform into a large bat, then flies off overhead.
The months of June-July are provided in the novelization, while the year 1970 is shown on Carolyn Stoddard's grave in the film. While the months work in print, they would seem to conflict with the visuals of the movie. Barnabas and Maggie are shown walking in front of Collinwood, and the trees are bare and leafless. Maggie is also wearing a knit hat and scarf to keep her warm. This suggests fall or winter months. Earlier in the film, Carolyn tells Barnabas that she, "shall be in London this summer," implying that the current month is not June or July.
Memorable Quotes Edit
- Willie Loomis: '"The Madonnas rest high above, the lion’s head watches the dove, and in the womb beneath the hill – a blazing light glows bright and still"
- Carolyn Stoddard: "I'm beginning to wonder, cousin Barnabas, if I shall ever know you at all. There's so much about you... that I'm dying to know."
- Professor Stokes: "If I told the police that the creature they’re looking for lives by night, and sleeps in a coffin by day – they might question my sanity."
- Professor Stokes: "Vampirism is not a disease, Julia. Vampires are the living dead."
- Barnabas: "You went to her and tried to warn her about me! You betrayed me, Willie!"
- Barnabas: "You'll be making a serious mistake if you pursue this, Professor."
- Professor Stokes: "Julia! You're in love with him! Well, I pity you."
- Barnabas Collins: "Every wedding needs a witness. And you will be witness to this one."
- Roger Collins: "Alright Loomis, you can pick up your pay in the morning."
- Willie Loomis: "Alright, I’ll get my pay. In the morning. But I’ll get a lot more than that...before then!"
Dramatis Personae Edit
- Paul Michael as Old Man
- Michael Stroka as Pallbearer
- George DiCenzo as Deputy (uncredited)
- Philip Larson as Deputy (uncredited}
- —David's room
Other Items Edit
- Barnabas’ wolf’s-head cane
- Portrait of Naomi Collins
- Directed by Dan Curtis
- Written by Sam Hall
- Written by Gordon Russell
- Produced by Dan Curtis
- Associate producer – Trevor Williams
- Original music by – Robert Cobert
- Cinematography by – Arthur Ornitz
- Film editing by – Arline Garson
- Casting by – Linda Otto
- Production design by – Trevor Williams
- Set decoration by – Ken Fitzpatrick
- Costume design by – Ramse Mostoller
- Hair stylist – Verne Caruso
- Makeup artist – Robert Layden
- Makeup effects – Dick Smith
- Production supervisor – Hal Schaffel
- Assistant director – William Gerrity
- DGA trainee – Dwight Williams
- Sound mixer – Bob Fine
- Sound by – Jack C. Jacobsen
- Sound by – Chris Newman
- Stunt coordinator – Alex Stevens
- Assistant producer – George DiCenzo
- Camera operator – Dick Mingalone
Bloopers and Changes Edit
- Don Briscoe's character is named Todd Blake in the movie, but in the credits, his name is listed as Todd Jennings. The Todd Blake name is spoken during Carolyn's funeral. Don Briscoe played characters named Tom and Chris Jennings in the original Dark Shadows series.
- At the costume party, Maggie asks Jeff if he had already met Barnabas Collins, to which he replies, "yes". No indication of the two men ever meeting prior to the costume party is ever revealed.
- Although it is stated that both Daphne Budd and Nancy Hodiak die from their injuries, there is no indication that either of them were resurrected as vampires.
- It takes Carolyn Stoddard at least three days before she turns into a vampire, whereas Professor Stokes and Roger Collins transform into vampires almost instantly.
- How did Stokes and Roger go from being part of an all out police man-vampire hunt to ...being left alone on an island and turned into vampires?
- If the police knew about vampires...wouldn't the military have been called in?
- Barnabas lured Jeff to Boston but this is never totally revealed other than Barnabas saying he has planned for Jeff to be out of town. He actually set up for a man to buy Jeff's paintings and to meet Jeff in Boston.
- This movie re-imagines several of the major storylines that ran throughout the 1967 season episodes of the original Dark Shadows.
- The novelization of House of Dark Shadows was written by Marilyn Ross and published by Paperback Library in October of 1970. Aside from a few small details, the novelization remains very faithful to the film.
- The portrait of Barnabas Collins that is featured in the gallery room at Collinwood is the same prop used in the original television series.
- The music box that Barnabas gives to Maggie Evans is the same prop used in the original television series.
- Jonathan Frid was nominated for 9th place in the Star of Tomorrow category for the Golden Laurel Awards in 1971.
- There is a scene, which involves David Collins pretending to hang himself in the closet of his bedroom. The scene was never included in the movie and is presumed lost. The scene is detailed, however, in the film's novelization.
- The scenes at Collinwood were filmed at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York.
- House of Dark Shadows was filmed concurrently with the original Dark Shadows television series. During the time of filming, the television program was in the middle of its 1970 parallel time story-arc. Major characters appearing in the film were written out of the TV series so that they would be available to shoot the movie.
- A second Dark Shadows film, entitled Curse of Dark Shadows was scheduled for release the following year. The title was changed to Night of Dark Shadows and featured the characters of Quentin Collins and Angelique Collins. The two films do not necessarily take place within the same continuity.
- House Of Dark Shadows was released on a special combination LaserDisc by MGM Home Video, packaged with Night Of Dark Shadows.
- John Karlen, Grayson Hall, Nancy Barrett, and Thayer David are the only actors from House of Dark Shadows who returned to star in Night of Dark Shadows (as different characters).
- The portrait of Naomi Collins is painted in the likeness of actress Joan Bennett. Joan played Naomi Collins in the 1795 flashback storyline from the original series.
- Robert Cobert's music score from House of Dark Shadows was featured on the House of Dark Shadows / Night of Dark Shadows Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
- The script says that 100 years ago Barnabas's ancestor (he's lying) came here. In the movie Barnabas tells Maggie that his ancestor (him) gave the music box to Josette 180 years ago.
- In addition to David's fake hanging scene, there are other scenes that were cut, sometimes even before the final cut: Roger has a stern talking with Maggie, culiminating in her quitting; Roger and David at the costume party where he claims he is Daniel Collins and that he did his homework; David apologizing to Maggie infront of Barnabas and Roger; a picnic with Jeff, Maggie and David at the falling apart greenhouse or pool house just before Willie warns her; Willie warning Stokes and directly telling him the vampire is Barnabas; Julia and Barnabas walking in the woods, Julia making him laugh; and some news on Daphne. As well, Curtis cut, presumably before filming an attack on a woman named Nancy Hodiak (who was supposed to be played by Marie Wallace).
- During the costume party, someone is playing a lighter version of the Quentin theme!
- Abner Collins's portrait is seen (it also appears briefly during the Norm Time 1970 storyline)
- Mike Stroka was at Carolyn's funeral.
- Julia talks to an off screen "Miss" or "Nurse" using the last name of Sheppard (this could be the later seen Terry Crawford character).
- Who lived on that island in that mansion, a hunter? It had a crossbow and other weapons. What?
- Another person gets to introduce Jeff to John, wanting them to meet.
- The cop who is in the crashed car after the two in the car see Carolyn is named Alex. He and the other cop survive that scene. It may be Alex who is strangled to death by old man Barnabas later on.
- Barnabas speaks to Willie of a "they" that put this curse on him, "When they put this curse on me..."
Alex; Barnabas Collins; Beach Road; Blue Whale; Bromwell Family; Bud; Carolyn Stoddard; Chapel monastery; Collins Family cemetery; Collins Family jewels; Collins Family mausoleum; Collinsport; Collinsport Inn; Collinwood; Collinwood Gallery; Collinwood stables; Daniel Collins; Daphne Budd; David Collins; Elizabeth Collins Stoddard; Elizabeth's office; Evanston Gallery; Dr. Forbes; Hank; George Patterson; Greenhouse; Jeff Clark; Jeff's studio; Josette DuPres; Josette's music box; Josette's wedding dress; Joshua Collins; Julia Hoffman; Maggie Evans; Mike; Minister; Mrs. Pettibone; Nancy Hodiak; Naomi Collins; Nixon; Old House; Old House cellar; Old House swimming pool; Portrait of Josette; Portrait of Barnabas; Roger Collins; Sarah Johnson; Seth; Shepherd; St. Eustace Island; Stevens; Timothy Eliot Stokes; Todd Blake; Tower room; Vampire; Widow's Hill; Willie Loomis