King of Shadows

Pub date April 25, 2006
SectionArts & CultureSectionTrash

TRIBUTE Days of Our Lives had Patch and Kayla; Passions had Precious, Timmy, and Zombie Charity (don’t ask). But Dark Shadows had werewolves, time travel, ghosts, a vampire protagonist (Jonathan Frid), and plots that revolved around such curious objects as the severed hand of one Count Petofi (much sought after for its mystical powers). Dark Shadows — the original version of which ran from 1966 to 1971; it also spawned multiple films and revivals — was clearly a singular sensation, and much of the credit goes to its beloved creator-producer, Dan Curtis.

Curtis, who passed away March 27 at the age of 78, was also noted for his many 1970s TV films. Most contained gothic elements, includingThe Night Stalker and the Karen Black tastic Trilogy of Terror, plus versions of Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dracula (the latter two starring Jack Palance). On the big screen he directed Black in the haunted-house tale Burnt Offerings; he also helmed the anthology tale Dead of Night, written by frequent collaborator Richard Matheson.

These days, The Montel Williams Show tapes in Dark Shadows’ old New York City studio (not among Dark Shadows’ horrors, as far as I can tell, are unexpected paternity test results). But the soap’s cult lives on, much like lovelorn vamp Barnabas Collins, with multiple DVD collections from MPI Home Video ( — endearing flubs from the show’s live tapings intact. For more information on Curtis, visit the frighteningly complete, operated by European fanzine Dark Shadows Journal. (Cheryl Eddy)

Kill-er dude

Kill the Moonlight


PRESS PLAY It coulda been Slacker, and instead, true to "Loser" form, it got lost. That was the fate of Steve Hanft’s 1994 "underground classic" feature Kill the Moonlight.

Kill has a rep for being rarely seen but, weirdly, widely disseminated — due to the fact that its title character, would-be race car driver, fish hatchery feeder, and toxic waste cleaner Chance, provided the direct inspiration for Beck’s first Gen X–Rosetta stone single, "Loser." Samples from the movie ("I’m a driver/ I’m a winner/ Things are gonna change/ I can feel it," drones the never-say-die, ultimately unkillable Chance) popped up in the sleeper pop hit itself, and clips of the movie surfaced in the song’s video, directed by Hanft (who also played with Beck in a band called Liquor Cabinet).

Alterna-strippers, Kiss revivalism, and bitchin’ Camaros — how much more ’90s can you get? With the release of this DVD — which includes a bonus soundtrack CD of music by Beck, the Raunch Hands, and Go to Blazes — you can finally bask in the low-budget, occasionally funny, often stiff, yet extremely atmospheric lo-fi glory of this 76-minute feature, which Hanft seems to have spun off with his bigger-budget 2001 feature,Southlander, starring a goofy musician named Chance and, well, Beck. (Kimberly Chun)