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Dark Shadows DVD Collection 4

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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(Feb 25, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

With its alluring tales of Gothic mystery and supernatural intrigue, Dark Shadows became one of the most popular daytime series of all time. Since first airing on ABC-TV from 1966-71, Dark Shadows has earned the reputation as being one of the most unusual and enduring programs in television history. The character of Barnabas Collins, a guilt-ridden 175 year-old vampire, brought the show tremendous success.

Barnabas' secret is threatened by David Collins' curiosity. Anxious to become human again, Barnabas orders Dr. Julia Hoffman to accelerate her treatments to cure him, but the experiment backfires, causing Barnabas to age rapidly and assume the appearance of a 200-year-old man. During a seance at Collinwood to contact the spirit of Barnabas' young sister Sarah, Victoria Winters mysteriously disappears and finds that she has traveled back in time to the year 1795.

Bonuses: Exclusive interviews with series producer Robert Costello, writer Sam Hall, special make-up artist Dick Smith and actress Lara Parker.

Starring: Joan Bennett, Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Louis Edmonds, Nancy Barrett, David Henesy, Clarice Blackburn, Anthony George, Grayson Hall, Joel Crothers, David Ford, Robert Gerringer, Jerry Lacy, Lara Parker, Sharon Smyth, Peter Turgeon, Vince O' Brien, Angus Cairns, Peter Murphy, William Shust, Dorrie Kavanaugh and Alexandra Moltke

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, Alexandra Isles, Nancy Barrett, Joan Bennett
  • Writers: Dan Curtis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Mpi Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 25, 2003
  • Run Time: 900 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007G1WQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,442 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dark Shadows DVD Collection 4" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Hornaday on April 11, 2005
Verified Purchase
For pure Dark Shadows at its classic best, this box set presents 40 episodes that portend the core brilliance of what has made this supernatural daytime series endure these past 38 years: Love, death, fear, longing, revenge, obsession, lies, secrets, loyalty and betrayal all played out against a compelling backdrop of Gothic sensibilities that include a 175-year-old guilt-ridden and love-lorn vampire, seances, time travel, ghosts, mystery, murder, intrigue and a constant dose of the unexpected.

This "soap opera" managed to transcend its genre by bringing a taste of Gothic horror and science-fiction fantasy to the hum-drum world of the afternoon drama, and DVD Collection 4 underscores that more than any of the previous Dark Shadows DVD releases. In fact, almost every important recurring Dark Shadows theme that was to take the series through its entire five-year run and into TV immortality is represented somewhere within the episodes of this amazing box set.

The vampire Barnabas Collins, portrayed brilliantly by the classically trained actor Jonathan Frid, was to be a temporary character that would be killed off following a reign of terror, but Frid's compelling characterization caused Barnabas to remain throughout the series as ratings sored and Frid became a national phenomenon among viewers.

In this box set, the "human side" of Barnabas is about to be revealed for the first time when governess Victoria Winters is transported back in time via a seance. The seance is an attempt by the Collins family to reach the ghost of a little girl named "Sarah," who has being appearing to aid those in Collinwood. Sarah is actually the 10-year-old sister of Barnabas, whom he loves deeply, and who died tragically.
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Beginning with Collection 3 of Dark Shadows on DVD, we start some of the earlier color episodes. Although the black & white episodes hold an atmospheric moodiness that goes with the show, nothing is lost here in the color episodes. Instead, the color adds to the richness of the backdrop and sets and adds to the eerieness of the program. In Collection 4 the story of Barnabas further unfolds as the then evil vampire becomes impatient with Dr. Hoffman's experiment and orders her to accelerate his cure to human form. Desperate because his secret is ever increasingly being threatened by the curiosity of young David Collins and his anxiousness to be with Victoria Winters, the experiment backfires causing Barnabas to age rapidly to his true age of 200+ years! Carolyn, unwittingly stumbles upon the aged Barnabas who falls upon her for her much needed blood. Meanwhile a seance is performed to contact the spirit of Barnabas' sister,Sarah, but something goes wrong and Victoria Winters is mysteriously thrust back to the year the Collins estate, to relive the fateful days that lead up to Barnabas' fateful curse! This is a great volume filled with awesome storylines, an incredible way to outline Barnabas' back history! The picture quality on the DVDs is breathtaking for a show as old as this! Kudos to MPI for such an enormously popular undertaking! Worth the price of admission!
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Dark Shadows Collection 4 delivers forty more episodes of involving, effective gothic melodrama, made more potent by the inclusion of a couple of especially dramatic developments: Barnabas moving beyond his frequent empty threats of violence and actually killing someone to keep the truth of his existence a secret, and, later in the set, a sudden and unexpected trip to the past to show us the origin of the undead Barnabas. All great stuff.

But first, a playful, minor quibble. It's actually kind of cheesy that when we shift to the past, members of the 18th century Collins family are played by the same actors who perform in the present-day storylines. In actuality, only Jonathan Frid as Barnabas should have appeared in both time frames, due to the fact that he's playing the same (ultimately immortal) character in both storylines! But I guess budget limitations prevented the use of a fresh batch of actors for the earlier sequences. At least Victoria Winters, after she goes back in time, DOES think it is curious that everyone looks the same as their 20th century descendents, but then no further explanation is given as to why they look the same. Oh, well.

In any event, viewers quickly get caught up in the colonial-era proceedings as we meet a much more innocent and likable Barnabas and the love of his life, Josette. We also see the memorable introduction of Angelique, a servant of Josette's who Barnabas briefly had a dalliance with in the past but who isn't interested in just quietly stepping aside now that he's involved with the much more "proper" Josette. So, we learn that the pre-vampiric Barnabas wasn't COMPLETELY innocent, as we actually feel a little bad for the jilted Angelique, even though she turns out to be truly diabolical in her revenge.
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DARK SHADOWS is the only daytime soap opera in TV GUIDE's "25 Top Cult Shows Ever." (1) DS made it into that list because of the 175-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins, played by Shakespearean actor Jonathan Frid, introduced a year into DS to save it from cancellation.

The first fifteen episodes in this set eliminate all traces of DS's original plan -- abandoned partly to satisfy the viewers -- to destroy Barnabas. For me, the most effective part of this segment is the murder of Dr. Woodard, in which DS's modern-day, female Van Helsing, Julia Hoffman, is forced to assist. This puts Dr. Hoffman in the position Barnabas has been in since he became a vampire -- that of needing to suppress one's conscience in order to do what's necessary to survive.

In contrast, I'm unimpressed by Burke Devlin's offscreen demise. I question whether a vampire could cause a plane crash -- a warlock, yes, but a vampire? -- and I feel Burke's an important enough character to deserve a nice shocking onscreen death. To be fair, though, Burke was significant in the pre-Barnabas episodes, which many viewers probably hadn't seen.

I'm ambivalent about Barnabas's discrediting of young David Collins. I'm glad Barnabas decides against killing David, and I feel David's growing horror, desperation, and frustration is effective. But I have trouble believing Barnabas could make his coffin disappear and sabotage the door to the secret room, especially on such short notice. Furthermore, the deliberate avoidance of the word "vampire" seems contrived in episode #335. I agree overall that avoiding the word adds verisimilitude and prevents campiness. However, I feel it would have come up in David's session with Dr. Fisher.

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