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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Supernatural > Soap Opera > TV > Dark Shadows – The Beginning: Collection 5 (MPI DVD)

Dark Shadows – The Beginning: Collection 5 (MPI DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: C+



From early 1967, Dark Shadows – The Beginning: Collection 5 offers 35 more episodes (#s 144 – 178) of the classic hit TV show before it went to color videotape and before the arrival of the redefining character of the show, vampire Barnabas Collins.  However, the show had plenty going for it before then with it Fall Of The House Of Usher-inspired scenario of the haunted house/haunted family and it is easy to underrated and underestimate this one-of-a-kind (especially for its time) show.


It is hard to pick up this far into the show and you should always start from the beginning, but the house that is Collingwood (practically a character in itself) has plenty of mysterious secrets and something supernatural is afoot.  Though the show is somewhat dated, there is still some very good acting here and the writers knew how to write the suspenseful, remaining effective enough here to give the series a look.  With séances, disappearing bodies, family tree investigations, lies, hypnotism, murder and subdued melodrama, it was both a great supernatural horror show for the time and one of the most groundbreaking of soap operas, still being more than soapy enough to go a few rounds with the best sudsters of the day.


What I also like about these early shows is the last remnants of a polite society slowly disappearing, which now feels as mysterious and distant as any spirit world.  John Bennett and Kathryn Leigh Scott are two of the few known names, but like so many successful soap operas, the rest of the cast is as good and has to be for a show like this to survive and be constantly believable, a credit these kinds of shows never get (note this is the only soap opera in video history to be issued on a normal basis outside of a nighttime equivalent like Dynasty or Dallas) because these shows are still considered disposable despite the lame success of so-called “reality TV” but if you like something suspenseful ands different, you might want to give these early Dark Shadows shows a look.


The 1.33 X 1 black and white image usually derives from analog NTSC 2” video reels and shows their age, though we have seen cleaner with the (sadly out of print but reviewed elsewhere on this site) Judy Garland Show DVDs from Geneon/Pioneer, though this show was more stylized being a dramatic program and not a variety show.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is good on the majority of videotaped shows, but on an early one surviving only on an old kinescope has awful audio.  Extras include new (separate) interviews with actress/star Diana Millay, author/horror expert Leonard Wolf and writers Ron Sproat & Malcolm Marmorstein.  Our DVD case came with a paper pullout episode guide and trading card.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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