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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hit or miss series--more hits than misses
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...
Published on January 23, 2007 by Kenneth Williams

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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. I suffered through all six stories because I had paid for the DVD, and I had hoped the stories would get better. They didn't. Ghost stories should be spooky. These stories definitely were not and I'm 64 years old.
Published on December 9, 2007 by P. Harwell


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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
By 
Kenneth Williams (Richmond, Virginia United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
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." Not the strongest of the tales, but very atmospheric. As the first on the lineup it provides a nice prolog to the others, establishing mood and tone. And I enjoyed the ambiguous ending.

As stated in another review, the pacing of these six mini-movies is rather slow, but not too slow. We're allowed to absorb and contemplate the environments, and get the sense that the characters are moving through actual time, not skipping from one jarringly edited scene to the next. If you long for the days when you first read Poe, if you remember most fondly not Halloween itself but the bleak quiet weeks leading up to it, when you explored that old barn in the meadow or made up ghost stories around the fire, believing every word, these DVDs are for you.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understated Creepiness, May 17, 2007
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This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars "Shades of Darkness (1983) ... Granada Television... Koch Vision (2006)", February 11, 2007
This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
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. Shannon as the quintessential late Victorian couple, living in Wisconsin, they have just come into a huge cash windfall on a stock deal, they retire early to England, buying an antiquated country estate which is supposed to have strange goings on, a visit by a mysterious stranger that the husband seems to recognize but afterward denies it, the wife is left with a growing dread that eventually culminates in tragedy, what dark secret is about to be uncovered? ------ [suspenseful story with an above average cast and performance]

3. "The Maze" (1985) ... Under Peter Hammond (Director), C.H.B. Kitchin (short story), Kenneth Taylor (screenplay) --- the cast includes Francesca Annis (Catherine Frode), James Bolam (Arthur Frode), Sky Macaskill (Daisy Frode), Amanda Boxer (Mrs. Levett), Nellie Hanham (Mrs. Wright), Duncan Preston (Fred Harston), Philip Sayer (Mervyn Barbet), Daniel Selby ------ the story line a slightly repressed housewife during the post-war years in England, with a secret she has kept from her daughter, the house, a large old Victorian place with rambling gardens, has a hedge maze on the grounds, the daughter is drawn to the maze, and we slowly see what secret the mother is hiding ------ [please note, this is the best of the six stories]

4. "Bewitched" (1985) ... Under John Gorrie (Director), Edmund Oboler (Director), Edith Wharton (story), Alan Plater (screenplay) --- the cast includes Eileen Atkins (Mrs. Rutledge), Alfred Burke (Reverend Hibben), Mary Healey (Loretta Bosworth), Martyn Hesford (Andrew), Alfred Lynch (Saul Rutledge), Mary Jo Randle (The Girl), Ray Smith (Sylvester Brand), Gareth Thomas (Owen Bosworth) --- the story line has a young girl who was thought to be a witch dancing around the beach, the funny thing is she's dead ... a minster from the village is looking into her and the villagers past to come up with the answer ... will he find out and let her soul and spirit have a final resting place?

5. "The Intercessor" (1983) ... Under Peter Smith (Director), May Sinclair (story), Alan Plater (script) --- the cast includes Chrissie Cotterill (Rachel), John Duttine (Garvin), Maggie Ford (Mrs. Falshaw), David Hargreaves (Mr. Falshaw), Peter Hughes (MacKinnon), Annette Wilkie-Miller (Child) --- the story line has a writer who needs peace and quiet for his writing ... a room in the country at a local farmhouse is the place or is it, a small child who is a ghost cries in the night and awakens him ... the ghost appears each night trying to tell him something, what dark secrets lay beyond this tale?

6. "The Demon Lover" (1986) ... Under Peter Hammond (Director), Elizabeth Bowen (story), Derek Mahon (screenplay) --- the cast includes Adrienne Corri (Delia Graham), John Fortune (Eric Farnham), Hugh Grant (Robert Drover), Robert Hardy (William Drover), Miranda Richardson (Gina), Angela Thorne (Mary Dash), Dorothy Tutin (Kathleen Drover), Amanda Waring (Young Kathleen), Arabella Weir (Anne Page) --- the story line is set in London during World War II, it revolves around the haunting of a married middle aged woman by the ghost of a sweetheart from her youth, a man presumed to have been killed in the First World War twenty five years earlier, .guest starring a very young Hugh Grant ... there Mrs. Drover discovers a letter, dated the present day, composed by a lover from the past who was presumed to have been killed in the previous world war ... will the past meet the future, only the final scene will tell.

Great job by Koch Vision for releasing "Shades of Darkness" (1983) - PBS Mystery, the digital transfere with a clean, clear and crisp print...looking forward to more high quality releases from the BBC mini-series film market...order your copy now from Amazon or Koch Vision where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch drama mixed with an outstanding cast and director --- Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal.

Total Time: 318 mins on DVD ~ Koch Vision KOCV6430 ~ (12/05/2006)
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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 
This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great collection of wierd tales, April 2, 2007
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This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
We bought two copies, one for someone who had seen "The Maze" long ago and is still talking about it, and one for ourselves. I had never seen any of these before. They are all good, and some are even better than "The Maze" -- excellent cast and a distinguished list of authors too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE THE BRITISH, January 15, 2008
By 
P. Harvey "Mystery Writer" (College Park, Georgia United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
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. And then I found "Shades of Darkness' I love ghost stories, especially British ghost stories and this DVD set certainly delivers. The stories deal with the human soul and its complexities and the price one has to pay if you betray it. Great casting as well. The British have a way of putting the spectator right in the middle of the drama as though you are there as well. I reccommend this DVD to anyone who appreciates great story telling.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointed, December 9, 2007
By 
P. Harwell (Richton park, Il) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
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. I suffered through all six stories because I had paid for the DVD, and I had hoped the stories would get better. They didn't. Ghost stories should be spooky. These stories definitely were not and I'm 64 years old.
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2.0 out of 5 stars But had good stories., July 5, 2014
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This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
Shades of Darkness was okay. A little too soap opera for me though. But had good stories.
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2.0 out of 5 stars NOT REALLY SCARY, July 24, 2013
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This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A slow-moving but highly atmospheric horror anthology, January 21, 2007
This review is from: Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal (DVD)
Shades of Darkness is a 1980s British production centering on tales of the supernatural. It was produced by June Wyndham Davies and is an ITV production. Initially there were seven hour-long episodes produced in 1983 and there were an additional two hour-long episodes produced in 1984 and screened in 1986. This DVD collection only has six episodes.

Here is a listing of the episodes:
The Lady's Maid's Bell
The wonderful Joanna David stars in this creepy episode as Miss Hartley who is hired as a lady's maid for Mrs. Brympton. Initially Miss Hartley finds her employer and the other staff to be quite amiable, and learns that the prior lady's maid, Emma Saxon, had died after serving Mrs. Brympton for 20 years. Miss Hartley then begins to experience strange encounters with a ghostly figure. Who or what is this entity and what does it want of Miss Hartley?

The Intercessor
Mr. Garvin (John Duttine) is a writer who seeks a quiet place to write his book. He goes to live with the Falshaw family who have no children, so that he can have some peace and quiet. Instead he hears a crying child at night and encounters the spirit of a dead girl and this moves him to uncover the sad tragedy that unfolded at the Falshaw farm in the past.

Afterward
A rich American and his wife move into an old English manor reputed to be haunted, although the nature of the haunting is a little strange - those who see the ghost are not aware that it is a ghost they see until some time has passed since the encounter. The American's wife is soon to have a similar experience under tragic circumstances.

The Maze
At the end of WW II, Catherine Frode (Francesca Annis) and her family move back into Catherine's childhood home, a place that holds unhappy memories for Catherine. She insists that her daughter Daisy not venture out into the maze near the home but of course Daisy breaks this rule and tells her mother she had met a man in the maze. Who is this strange man and what are his intentions?

Bewitched
Set in a little hamlet along the English coast, the story centers on a young woman who is presumed by the local villagers to be a witch. After her death, villagers see her walking along the shore. Eileen Atkins plays a local housewife who believes her husband is wasting away due to his affair with the ghost of the dead woman. This prompts the village minister (Alfred Burke) to probe into the circumstances of her death in the hope of freeing the troubled spirit.

The Demon Lover
A creepy tale of long-lost love. It is 1941 and Kathleen Drover (Dorothy Tutin) has just packed her family up from London and moved to the country. Watching her son and his girlfriend makes her think back to her younger days when she was in love with an RAF pilot who was killed in 1916. She also inadvertently finds a note which mentions the promise made, that no matter what happens, she and her pilot lover will be reunited 25 years later.

Final thoughts - I bought this DVD used from a second hand bookstore, but it plays well and the audio and picture quality are good, despite the dated production details. I'd recommend this anthology for fans of atmospheric supernatural dramas.
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Shades of Darkness - Six Mysterious Tales of the Paranormal
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