Dan Curtis Productions optioned the rights for the Dark Shadows franchise to movie production studio MGM. MGM was at first reluctant to green light a movie deal, but after accounting for the cult popularity of the ABC soap opera, it approved the proposal and the first Dark Shadows feature film was theatrically released to US audiences in October of 1970. Dark Shadows has the distinction of being the only daytime soap opera to ever spin-off into a full-length motion picture.
House of Dark Shadows (1970) Edit
Dan Curtis directed the first Dark Shadows movie entitled, House of Dark Shadows. He brought back most of his original cast and re-imagined several of the major story arcs that took place within the context of the television series beginning with the arrival of the vampire, Barnabas Collins (210). Initially, Barnabas was intended to be a seasonal villain who would ultimately be exposed and destroyed after killing off several other cast members. The character proved to be too popular with audiences however, and scriptwriters were required to alter their storylines in order to keep the vampire on the show. House of Dark Shadows represented Dan Curtis’ original vision of the Barnabas Collins storyline.
Night of Dark Shadows (1971)Edit
House of Dark Shadows proved popular enough, that MGM signed off on a sequel. Originally titled Curse of Dark Shadows, this movie presented an entirely unique story that was not simply a rehash of old television plots like its predecessor. Several of the actors who had rose to prominence in the waning years of the television series found a new spotlight in Night of Dark Shadows. A few actors from House of Dark Shadows, including: John Karlen, Grayson Hall, Nancy Barrett and Thayer David signed on to star in the quasi-sequel, playing different characters. Although popular with fans, Night of Dark Shadows did not receive the accolades that its forbearer enjoyed, due mostly to the fact that MGM forced Dan Curtis to excise over a half an hour’s worth of footage in order to maintain a running time that would make it marketable for a double-billing. The 11th hour editing (executed by Curtis himself), yielded a movie that was largely different from the vision that Dan Curtis Productions sought to project, and produced a storyline that was contextually ambiguous in many areas.
Death of Dark Shadows Edit
Dan Curtis offered forth a proposal for a third and final Dark Shadows movie, tentatively titled Death of Dark Shadows. MGM had little interest in doing a follow-up and the idea never evolved beyond the proposal stage. The only original series cast member that was rumored to be attached to the project was Denise Nickerson.