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Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (1986)

Joanna David , June Brown , John Glenister , Peter Hammond  |  NR |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joanna David, June Brown, Norma West, Ian Collier, Charlotte Mitchell
  • Directors: John Glenister, Peter Hammond, Simon Langton
  • Writers: Alfred Shaughnessy, Derek Mahon, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Bowen, Ken Taylor
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Koch Vision
  • DVD Release Date: December 5, 2006
  • Run Time: 318 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000IHYXKS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,827 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

One of the most intriguing mysteries is whether or not there is another plane of existence beyond our own. Shades of Darkness delves into the world of the supernatural with six bizarre, inexplicable and frightening ghost stories as told by some of the greatest mystery authors of all time. (Elizabeth Bowen, C.H.B. Kitchin, May Sinclair, Edith Wharton)

Bewitched
Eileen Atkins (She Fell Among Thieves) plays the wife of a once robust man who seems to be wasting away to nothing. She knows why: He’s having a love affair with the restless ghost of another villager’s dead daughter. The local minister takes her seriously because he knows the villagers once burned a member of the same family for witchcraft.

The Intercessor
John Duttine stars as a young historian who seeks a quiet place in the country where he can write in peace. His sole stipulation: he can’t abide children because they’re so noisy. So naturally, he’s kept awake at night by the eerie sound of a child’s ghostly crying.

The Lady’s Maid’s Bell
Joanna David (Rebecca) stars as Hartley, the new maid to Mr. and Mrs. Brympton, whose household is believed to be haunted by the spirit of their last maid, Emma. Sure enough, the ghostly Emma soon turns up, drawing Hartley into the scandalous gonis-on between Mrs. Brympton and her randy next-door neighbor, Mr. Ranford.

Afterward
An unusual twist on the standard story of young newlyweds who buy a beautiful old house only to find that it’s haunted. In this case, a young American husband and his wife come to England, purposely looking for a grand old haunted house. They get the house and are assured a ghost will make an appearance before too long. For once, the real estate agent didn’t sell them a bill of goods. There is a ghost all right, but its’ one the husband hoped he’d never have to face.

The Maze
Francesa Annis (Partners in Crime) plays Catherine, a woman who comes back to her ancestral home after many years. Her 8 year-old daughter, Daisy, is fascinated by the maze of hedges in the garden, but Catherine is deathly afraid of what might lurk there. One day Daisy takes the hand of a strange man and follows him into the maze.

The Demon Lover
When a young man sets out to fight in the First World War, his lover vows that they will be reunited, no matter what might happen to him. She soon comes to regret her noble sentiments.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hit or miss series--more hits than misses January 23, 2007
I'd been wanting to see this series for years and now (most of) it's finally on DVD. Very gloomy, shot on-location ghosts stories: decaying country houses, seaside graveyards, muddy roads, but all done with the utmost respect for the material and the genre. I actually haven't watched the final tale ("The Demon Lover") yet.

The story "The Maze" left me indifferent, and has an embarrassingly directed sex/wood-cutting scene, and lots of that awful tinkly piano music that's supposed to sound suspenseful. This is NOT characteristic of the other tales, whose music is much more appropriate and less distracting. The acting is actually quite good, but I just couldn't get into it. Even the hedge maze is disappointing--more like a halfhearted smattering of old bushes. Oh well.

"Afterward" is excellent (I'm quite a fan of the Edith Wharton tale): perfect location, period detail, just the right moodiness, smartly underused musical scoring, etc. The woman who plays the main character is outstanding, and we get a real sense of her choking, mute dread--the devastating truth she's unable to articulate or fully understand. The actor who plays her husband is stiff but serves his purpose and disappears soon enough.

"The Intercessor" and "Bewitched" are both beautifully done, BEAUTIFULLY acted, and more emotionally involving than might seem possible with ghost stories. I was really impressed. Eileen Atkins OWNS her role, and makes it something deeply ambiguous. These tales aren't really about ghosts; they're about the trials of the living, for which the ghosts provide poignant counterpoint. (Note: One of these two tales is so brilliantly told you might not even realize there's no ghost in it!).

"The Lady Maid's Bell.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understated Creepiness May 17, 2007
Verified Purchase
Shades of Darkness is a British production which was shown in the US on PBS' "Mystery" about 1984. I enjoyed it then and waited anxiously but fruitlessly for a rerun, so I am glad that at last it is available on DVD.

Each segment of Shades of Darkness is about an hour long and is drawn from short stories by Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Bowen, and other luminaries. The scripts are literate and faithful to the original stories.

The most pleasing thing about these short films is their ability to create an atmosphere of creepiness mounting to horror without having to fall back on the old horror movie standbys of fanged monsters and bloodshed. These are stories of people going about their ordinary lives who gradually become aware of the presence of the supernatural. My favorite episode is "Afterward" by Edith Wharton, where the viewer, like the principal character, doesn't even recognize the ghost is a ghost when it appears.

If you are accustomed to seeing horror delivered through the blows of an axe or by screaming monsters you will find Shades of Darkness just as frightening but far more equivocal and intriguing.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Koch Vision present "SHADES OF DARKNESS" (1983) (318 mins/Color) (Dolby Digital) --- This set contains six episodes of Shades of Darkness on two discs ... a series of adaptations of classic ghost stories by Granada Television from the 1980s ... with some of the top authors Elizabeth Bowen, C.H.B. Kitchin, May Sinclair and Edith Wharton ... mixed with ghostly cries in the night and chilling mysteries left unsaid ... witness undying love from beyond the grave within this bizarre series of unexplainable tales ... they are excellent adaptations of high quality ghost stories.

FEATURING:

1. "The Lady's Maid's Bell" (1985) ... Under John Glenister (Director), Edith Wharton (story), Kenneth Taylor (screenplay) --- the cast includes Joanna David (Miss Hartley), June Brown (Emma Saxon), Norma West (Mrs. Brympton) ------ the story line thus far, Miss Hartley arrives at Brympton Hall to be the lady's maid for Mrs. Brympton, who has a heart condition. She hears nothing but good reports about the prior lady's maid, Emma Saxon, who died a year ago after serving her mistress for 20 years A figure that seems to be watching and waiting, for what purpose?

2. "Afterward" (1985) ... Under Simon Langton (Director), Edith Wharton (novel), Alfred Shaughnessy (screenplay) --- the cast includes Kate Harper (Mary Boyne), Michael Shannon (Edward Boyne), Penelope Lee (Alida Stair), John Grillo (Harold Parvis), Meg Ritchie (Trimmle), Rolf Saxon (Robert Elwell), William Abney (Inspector Gates), Merelina Kendall (Agnes), Arthur Whybrow (Mr. Craig), Eric Francis (Cooper) ------ the story line Kate Harper and Michael J.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I searched for this for years - and it was worth it... February 23, 2007
By JAllen
If this set contained only May Sinclair's "The Intercessor" it would still be worth quadruple the amount. Based on one of the best ghost stories ever written, an M.R. Jamesian historian who can't stand the sound of children has his working vacation in a very damp Welsh farm house disrupted by a little drowned spectre who sobs at his bedside. And in a strange reversal, he isn't at all afraid of her...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Beautiful scenery and setting, but the stories don't scare me so much as the British series "Ghost Stories for Christmas", which is really scary.
Published 26 days ago by Francisco Lopes Junior
5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased with purchase.
Very pleased with purchase.
Published 1 month ago by Golf4ever569
2.0 out of 5 stars But had good stories.
Shades of Darkness was okay. A little too soap opera for me though. But had good stories.
Published 3 months ago by Rex Knight
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT REALLY SCARY
THIS MOVIE IS A DISSAPOINTMENT. VERY BOREING AND KIND OF SILLY. DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY. I DIDNT EVEN FINISH WATCHING IT I WAS SO BOARD.
Published 15 months ago by MISSYGIRL
1.0 out of 5 stars A let down
All these rave reviews, and I can't fathom why.

Pros:
The sets were nice and creepy. the acting was very solid.

Cons:
The stories were very dull. Read more
Published on April 11, 2011 by NateMonroe
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite DVD's
I bought this a year ago and I've watched it many times since then and I enjoy it each time as much as the first. The Lady's Maid's Bell is my favorite on this DVD. Read more
Published on February 3, 2009 by L Flores
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE THE BRITISH
I bought this DVD because I was scrambling for any British production to watch on television. British productions always have excellent writing and production values. Read more
Published on January 15, 2008 by P. Harvey
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointed
I ordered this DVD because I saw it described in a PBS catalog. Some of the stories are suspenseful but most are not. It was a huge letdown. Read more
Published on December 9, 2007 by P. Harwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Very spooky
Just the thing for a cold winter night in front of the fire. The acting is superb and it's fun to see some well-known names when they were younger.
Published on November 21, 2007 by N. King
1.0 out of 5 stars Yuk
We ordered this DVD because we saw it described in a PBS catalog as having ghost stores with intricate, twisted plots. Read more
Published on October 24, 2007 by I. Kenney
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